Pohela Boishakh 2017
New years’ day is often a festive time of year in many cultures around the world. All around the globe, people celebrate the passage of an old year and the welcoming of a new one by colorful exchanges of gifts, food, prayers and festivities. Since there is more than one calendar in use around the world, people in different countries celebrate more than one New Year. Apart from the Gregorian New year celebrated on January 1st, there are other New years around the world such as the Chinese New Year and Islamic New Year. The Bengali people found in Bangladesh and parts of India celebrate a unique festival known as “Pohela Boisakh”, often translated into English as the Bengali New year Bengalis all around the world, regardless of faith often come together with family and friends to celebrate this special holiday.
When the festival began cannot be said with complete accuracy. The origins of this festival go back longer than can be reliably recorded. It is said Pohela Boishakh has been celebrated as far as the days of the Mughal Emperors who ruled large parts of the Indian subcontinent in the 16th Century. Celebrations dating back to the time of Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar have been recorded and it is believed to have been celebrated long before that time Regardless its origin in time, Pohela Boishakh is celebrated at the beginning of summer. It coincides with the beginning of the new solar cycle in the Hindu Vedic calendar which often falls on or around April 14th in the Gregorian calendar. The date is also celebrated by Hindus as the start of a new year but it goes by different names such as Vishu, Puthandu, and Vaisakhl.
Despite its Hindu origin, the festival is unique in that it is celebrated by Bengali regardless of their religious identity. It is celebrated by Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and Muslims. Because of this, it has been identified as one of the powerful unifiers of diverse communities so much so that UNESCO has declared the Bengali New year as a Festival of humanity. Even across the ocean in places as far away as Canada, Bengali people find ways to celebrate the New Year keeping alive their cultural heritage and sharing the spirit of fraternity and family with their host communities.
Celebrations on Pohela Boisakh begin very early on the day. At dawn, people take a bath to cleanse themselves before proceeding to local temples to make offerings to patron deities. It is important to be clean both physically and spiritually before the start of the New year. The offerings are considered a very important part of the festivity as people seek blessings, good fortune, and protection for themselves and family members in the New Year Early morning devotional processions designed to provide good luck are also carried out in the morning. After the offerings and processions, the rest of the day is spent singing, dancing and feasting. Everyone wears new clothes and exchange special dishes prepared solely for that day.
Traditions Followed on Pohela Boishakh 2017
Buying Panjika A panjika is an almanac, similar to the horoscopes familiar to people in the western world. On Pohela Boisakh, people rush to bookshops to purchase copies of the panjika. This purchase is an important tradition of the New Year as the panjika is consulted before choosing dates for important events such as weddings, moving to a new house or traveling. Auspicious dates when the stars align are marked out while inauspicious dates where the omens are unfavourable are avoided.
Pohela Boishakh 2017 Fairs
To mark the passage of the old year, Bengalis celebrate a fair known as 5111Charak.’ In a very colorful display meant to evoke the passage of an old year and the welcoming of a new one, people celebrating Pohela Boishakh 2017 get to dance round a pole to delight and amusement of observers. The fairs are also an opportunity for local craftsmen and artisans to sell their wares. They make traditional toys, instruments, sweets, and foods to be sold to people on that day thereby celebrating rural Bengali life as well
Pohela Boishakh 2017 Haal Khata
The Bengali New year also coincides with another important day for traders, shopkeepers, and merchants. The 5111Haal Khata’ which also falls on Pohela Boisakh is an auspicious time of the day during which old ledgers from the previous year are closed and new ledgers for a new year opened. It is also considered a good time to pay old debts and settle any unfinished commercial transactions to avoid bad luck from the old year following one into the New Year.
Pohela Boishakh Cuisine
No New Year celebration would be complete without the people dining on their favorite meals. It is customary to prepare special foods and snacks to be shared with family, friends and well-wishers on this day. Traditional sweets called “Rosogola” are often prepared and given to children on this day. A special dish called “Panta Ilsh” is also served on platters. This dish is made of rice, fried fish, lentils, onions and other vegetables specially prepared for the new year Pohela Boisakh is a very important cultural event in Bengali speaking and other Hindu parts of India. In recognition of its important, April 14th is a National public holiday in these countries to allow the people celebrate the new year at home with family and friends.
Prayer chants are often shown on tv and the processions also documented and shown. It is customary for Government officials to give a speech wishing the people a happy new year The correct form of greeting for the day is “Shubho Nabobarsho.” This greeting roughly translates to “Happy new year” in English. It is truly a colorful celebration filled with music, dancing, laughter and food sharing. There are plenty of cultural programs shown on tv on Pohela Boisakah. For many people, the day is an opportunity for all to come together regardless of religious differences.
With the advent of mobile phones, it has become customary to send a special SMS message to family and loved ones on Pohela Boisakh. These messages are often designed to be special and sent in multiple languages. With the advent of social media platforms such as facebook and Whatsapp, it has also become common to send images. A typical SMS message send on the Bengali New year will read something like: “May you come up as bright as the sun, as cool as water and as sweet as honey. Hope coming new year fulfill all your desires and wishes. Happy Bangla New Year!!” Happy Bangali new year 2017
If you are in the region on April 14th, 2017. Be sure to take part in the festivities of Pohela Boishakh 2017. You will find it a colorful display of culture and celebration. You will also be treated to amazing food and have the chance to pick up mementos and souvenirs. It may have begun as a rural celebration to mark the New Year in the region but it has now become an integral part of the culture in many countries bringing together people of different religious, cultural and economic backgrounds. In the world where differences keep being highlighted and ethnic tensions remain high, perhaps festivals like the Bengali New year hold the key to uniting more people across the globe.