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Pohela Boishakh


Information

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Pohela Boishakh Greeting Cards

Celebration            Ritual               Pictures



Pahela Boisakh falls on April 14 or 15,which is the first day of the Bangla year.It is celebrated in a festive manner in both Bangladesh,West Bengal and the Bengali communities in Asam and Tripura.THis day coincides with various other new years in South Asia.In West Bengal,Bangladesh and Asam Pahela Boishakh is declared as a national holiday.

Similar to many other variants of the Hindu solar calendar,the Bengali calendar commences in mid-April of the Gregorian year.The first day of the Bengali year therefore coincides with the mid-April new year in Assam, Burma, Cambodia, Kerala, Manipur, Nepal, Orissa, Punjab, Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu and Thailand.

For the regulation of the tax collection,King Akbar,the Mughal Emperor,ordered a reform of the calendar. Accordingly, Fatehullah Shirazi,a renowned scholar and astronomer, formulated the Bangla year on the basis of the lunar Hijri and Bangla solar calendars.The new agricultural year was introduced in March 1584,which was dated from Akbar's tenure as a king, in 1556.Later on,the new year became popular by the names 'Bangabda' or Bengali year.

As per the King Akbars directive,all the dues were to be settled on the last day of Chaitra.The next day, that is the first day of the new year,the landlords would entertain their tenants with sweets.The traders and businessmen closed their old account books and on this auspicious day.

The traders invited their customers to share sweets and renew their business relationship with them.Nowdays,this practise is seen in the lobby of jewellers.On this occasion there used to be fairs and other festivities. In due course the occasion became part of domestic and social life, and turned into a day of celebration.
 



 

 Celebration


Celebrations of Pohela Boishakh started from Akbar's reign.On this day everything is washedand cleaned. People bathe early in the morning and dress in fine clothes and then go to visit relatives and friends. The guestd are treated with special food dishes.

In Dhaka,Kite flying and bull racing in Munshiganj are very popular events.Other popular village games and sports are horse races, bullfights, cockfights, flying pigeons and boat racing.Some festivals,like bali or wrestling in Chittagong and gambhira in Rajshahi still continue.

In Kolkata, Pohela Boishakh is considered to be an auspicious time for matrimonial affairs.This day people wear new clothes and go about socialising. Choitro, the last month of the previous year, is the month of hectic activities and purchases.Garment traders organise a Choitro sale and heavy discounts are offered.

In many parts of the country,Boishakhi fairs are organised, where various traditional handicrafts,toys, agricultural products,cosmetics as well as many kinds of food and sweets are sold.There is a musical entertainment,with singers and dancers staging jatra, pala gaan, kavigan, jarigan, gambhira gaan, gazir gaan and alkap gaan.Also folk songs as well as baul, marfati, murshidi and bhatiali songs are performed. Narrative plays like laily-majnu, yusuf-zulekha and Radha-Krishna are staged.In the fair,Merry-go-round and Giant wheels are also installed.Puppet shows are also enjoyed by the children.

In England this festival is celebrated on the road and is marked as the largest Asian festival of Europe and most celebrated Bengali festival out side West Bengal.

In Australia,the Pohela Boishakhr is celebrated in various cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra when people gather to celebrate the Bengali culture through songs,dances, fashion shows, music, clothing, food etc. However the largest celebration for the Bangla new year in Australia is the Sydney Boishakhi Mela which was traditionally held at the Burwood Girls High School but from 2006 has been held at the Sydney Olympic park.Large crowd gather here and is a very anticipated event for the Australian Bengali community.

Now days all the new festivals have come up and the old type is become absolete.With the abolition of the zamindari system, the punya connected with the closing of land revenue accounts has disappeared.


Rituals

The accounting of the new books ie halkhata begins only after performing puja.Mantras are chanted and 'Hindu swastika' is drawn on the accounting book by the priests. Devotees are seen in front of the Kalighat temple,in long queues, from late night.Devotees offer puja to receive the blessings of the almighty.

On this popular festival,people gather early in the morning ,under a big tree or on the bank of a lake to witness the sunrise.Songs are rendered to welcome the new year.People wear traditional Bengali dresses,young women wear white sarees with red borders and adorn themselves with bangles, flowers, and tips and the men wear white pyjamas or dhoti and kurta.In many places,the people start with the traditional breakfast of panta bhat (cooked rice soaked with water), green chillies, onion, and fried hilsa fish.

In Dhaka. large numbers of people gather early in the morning under the banyan tree at Ramna Park where chhayanat artistes open the day with Tagore's famous song, Eso he Boishakh eso eso (Come O Boishakh, come), welcoming Boishakh. A similar ceremony welcoming the new year is also held at the Institute of Fine Arts, university of dhaka. Students and teachers of the institute take out a colourful procession and parade round the campus. Social and cultural organisations celebrate the day with cultural programmes. Newspapers bring out special supplements. There are also special programmes on radio and television.


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