Holi Celebrations In Kolkata
Times For Cultural Extravaganza
Anybody who wishes to see the real culture of West Bengal in its exuberant best, be in West Bengal during all the major festivals of the state. In fact, it does not matter which time of the year you are visiting the state, you will always be close to a festival as the entire year is filled with festivals. Some of the festivals are celebrated throughout the state with same passion and devotion, whereas some are area oriented and are seen celebrated only in some places. In all festivals, one gets to experience the famous traditions and rituals that have hung on to the culture of West Bengal since the beginning, and the mythological aspect that are mesmerizing for people from different religion and beliefs The main festival of all undoubtedly is Durga Puja which is celebrated during the Navaratris. Such is the passion for this festival that, as soon as the festival is completed, planning for the next year's Durga Puja begins. The soul of Durga Puja celebrations and many other festival are the people of the state who devote their entire time and energy in making the festive moments as grand as possible.
Major Festivals in West Bengal
Durga Puja is the most important and most widely celebrated festival in West Bengal. It is celebrated during the Navaratris which fall close to the months of September or October. The tradition of Durga Puja celebrations has been prevalent since 16th century. Since then the festival is celebrated with magnificence seldom seen anywhere else. The puja goes on for five consecutive days starting the 6th day of Navaratri and ending on the 10th day. During the five days, huge and grand pandals are set up in all parts of the state where cultural events are organized throughout the day. Every day of the festival people dress themselves in new and traditional clothes. It is also the time when the range and variety of exotic dishes is at its widest. On the tenth day, the idol of Goddess Durga is taken to River Ganges for the most important ritual of the festival, the immersion of idol of Goddess Durga. This marks the end of Durga Puja Festival.
Other Festivals in West Bengal
Although Holi is celebrated in all parts of West Bengal, there is none better place than Shantiniketan to experience this festival of color. Holi is known as 'Dol' in West Bengal and is celebrated during the full moon day in early spring. Watching the people celebrate this wonderful festival it sometimes feel that Holi is just an excuse to live the moment to the fullest. Men and women drench each other in water, color all with different natural colors, get high by drinking Bhaang (Opium drink) and dance to the tunes of peppy Bollywood numbers themed on Holi. In Shantiniketan University, the same celebrations give out a totally different ambiance, a far quitter atmosphere and laid back celebrations makes it feel like a different festival all together. Here, Holi is called 'Basant Utsav' which means the festival of spring. A procession is taken out in Shantiniketan which is called 'Dol Jatra' and is the main point of the celebrations here.
Naba Barsho is the Bengali New year that falls in the month of April according to Gregorian calendar. The date is generally 13th or 14th of the month every year. To ride into the New Year, people clean and decorate their houses by making elaborate and colorful rangolis or alpanas in front of their houses. Rangolis are generally made using flour put around earthenware pot decorated with auspicious swastika. Some people also use flowers to design these Rangolis at the facade of their homes. For the new year to be prosperous, people offer pujas to Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi. You will see most of the people clad in traditional dresses, women in white saris with red borders and men in dhotis and kurta in the morning and attending parties in the evening in all glamor and modernity.
Jagaddhatri Puja is a Hindu Festival that is a celebration of reincarnation of Goddess Durga as Goddess Jagaddhatri. The puja does not a long history and was started only in 1713 during the reign of Maharaj Krishna Chandra of Nadia. The festival falls on the ninth lunar day of month of Karthik. Jagaddhatri Puja is most religiously and passionately celebrated in Chandannagar in Hoogly district. The celebrations are a lot like Durga Puja and goes on for five consecutive days.
Festivals of West Bengal makes one forget all the tensions and immerses himself in celebrating the moment. This is the best time to indulge in shopping as one gets to see the entire culture during the time and can choose what to buy from a wide range of variety and also the best time to enjoy West Bengal cuisine as the number of dishes increases manifolds.