The Bengalees are fond of festivals. The proverb ‘baro mase tero parban’ which means thirteen festivals in twelve months indicates the mood of the people. The Bengali year starts with the New Year’s Day or ‘Halkhata’ in Baisakh (2nd half of April) and ends with ‘Charak’ in the month of Chaitra (2nd half of March) with the advent of the summer heat.
In the rainy season, there is Rathajatra or Festival of Chariot of the Hindus. In autumn Durga Puja is observed with pomp and splendour. All are dressed in new garments. Distant relatives get together on this occasion. In fact, it is the national festival in West Bengal. It is soon followed by Lakshmi Puja, Kali Puja and Dewali, the festival of lamps. The Muslims have their great festivals—Muharram, Id-Ul-Fitter, and Iduzzoha—during the period. In winter the Bengalees celebrate ‘Nabanna’ or the festival of new harvest and Saraswati Puja, the worship of the Goddess of Learning. The Christians celebrate X-mas and Easter tide days which have become festivals of universal love and brotherhood. In spring there is ‘Doljatra’ or ‘Holi’ which is the festival of colours. It is especially the festival of youths though it has got a religious touch of Radha-Krishna, the deities of divine love.
There are many other festivals in West Bengal. Rabindra Jayanti in May, in memory of the great poet Rabindranath Tagore, has now become the people’s cultural festival in the State. May Day is observed all over the world and here also. It is the day to express the solidarity of the working class of people. All the firms and factories remain closed on this day and the workers get together to observe the day. The latest festival is, perhaps, the Book Fair or Boi Mela. Here the bibliophiles (book-lovers) get books as their best friends or never-failing companions to enlarge their vision and make life more meaningful.
The Bengalees have many wants, but they have no want of festivals. And each is unique, in it’s our place.