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Festivals of West Bengal
Holi (March)
Holi by the name of Basant Utsav is celebrated with fervour in the state of West Bengal. The tradition of Vasantotsav, meaning Spring Festival was started by poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan, the University he founded. What is appreciated is the grace and diginified manner in which Vasant Utsav is celebrated in West Bengal as compared to boisterous Holi witnessed in most parts of India. Boys and girls joyfully welcome Spring, the season of hope not just with colours but with songs, dance, chanting of hymns in the serene ambiance of Shantiniketan. Anybody who got a chance to witness this elegant way of celebrating Holi in Bengal remembers it with fond memory for the rest of his life.
Birthday of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (February)
Ramakrishna was born in a poor Brahmin Vaishnava family in rural Bengal. He became a priest of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, dedicated to the goddess Kali, which had the influence of the main strands of Bengali bhakti tradition. His first spiritual teacher was an ascetic woman skilled in Tantra and Vaishnava bhakti. Later an Advaita Vedantin ascetic taught him non-dual meditation, and according to Ramakrishna, he experienced nirvikalpa samadhi under his guidance. Ramakrishna also experimented with other religions, notably Islam and Christianity, and said that they all lead to the same God. Though conventionally uneducated, he attracted the attention of the middle class and numerous Bengali intellectuals.
Birthday of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (January)
Subhas Chandra Bose, affectionately called as Netaji, was one of the most prominent leaders of Indian freedom struggle. Though Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru have garnered much of the credit for successful culmination of Indian freedom struggle, the contribution of Subash Chandra Bose is no less. He has been denied his rightful place in the annals of Indian history. He founded Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) to overthrow British Empire from India and came to acquire legendary status among Indian masses.
Rabindra Jayanti (May)
Rabindra Jayanti is celebrated with great enthusiasm throughout West Bengal, especially in Kolkata. The festival provides a platform for the literary personalities and budding artists. Various literary workshops are conducted. Several cultural shows are organized. Music, dramas, skits, traditional dances and songs are performed in theaters and institutes. The most popular of it is Rabindra Sangeeth which is a mixture of Indian classical music and popular folklore of Bengal. The festival is celebrated both as a test and the celebrations of results.
Durga Puja (October)
Durga Puja, the most happening festival of the Bengalis can be sensed with its spurt of fanfare on all the four days of the festival. This autumnal festival recalls the power of female Shakti symbolized by the Goddess Durga who slays asura to reestablish peace and sanctity on earth again. Bengalis all over the world during these days of Durga Puja rejoice to their heart's content reconnecting with friends and relatives. Durga Puja is an occasion when the familiar sound of Dhak, Dhunuchi nachh,the mild fragrance of Shiuli, gives a familiar tug to every Bengali heart.
Basant Panchami (January/February)
On this day Goddess Saraswati is worshipped in various names and fames - the Goddess of Learning, the deity of Gayatri, the fountain of fine arts and science, and the symbol of supreme vedantic knowledge. The image of Goddess Saraswati depicts her sitting on a vehicle that symbolizes her supreme power. The white swan of Saraswati symbolizes Satwa Guna (purity and discrimination), the lotus of Lakshmi the Rajas Guna and the tiger of Durga the Tamas Guna. Saraswati is shown possessing four hands and plays "Veena", an Indian string musical instrument.
Dushera (October)
In the eastern state of West Bengal, Vijayadashmi is celebrated as the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura, the demon who ruled the swarglok and the earth with his invincible power. It is the last day of the ten-day festival - Durga Puja. On Vijayadashmi, the idol of Ma Durga is immersed in the nearby river or lake ceremoniously, by the devotees. This is called visarjan (submersion of diety). The idol is preceded by a huge procession of devotees.
Bhai Dooj (November)
Bhai Phota is a prominent Hindu festival celebrated in the state of West Bengal on the Dvitya or the second day after the Kali Puja. Bhai Phota is a festival that strengthens the beautiful bond of love and affection between a brother and his sister. It is celebrated with lot of gusto and euphoria all over West Bengal and sisters and brothers eagerly await the arrival of the joyful Bhai Fota.
Mahavir Jayanti (March/April)
Bhagwan Mahavira is an ideal in Jainism who taught the world the essence of life. He taught all of us the right way of living the life. The day of his birth is celebrated in a massive procession around the cities. The jains make offerings of milk, rice, fruit, incense, lamps and water to the poor people that day. All sections of the community participate in a grand procession. Lectures are held to preach the path of virtue. People meditate and offer prayers. Donations are collected to save the cows from slaughter and to help poor people by providing them food. Pilgrims from all parts of the country visit the ancient Jain Temples at Pawapuri, Kundalpur and Parsvanath on this day.
Buddha Jayanti (May)
Buddha Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha is also celebrated in West Bengal. This festival is celebrated in the month of May. This festival is colourfully celebrated at various Buddhist monasteries in Kalimpong and Darjeeling.
Rathyatra (June/July)
Rath Yatra, which involves taking out of the procession of Lord Jagganath's Chariot, is one of the oldest traditions in Hindu Society. It is celebrated with great effervescence and immense devotion in Orissa and Bengal. Being celebrated since 1397, this Rath Yatra of West Bengal is the second oldest chariot festival in India, after the Rath Yatra of Puri. This grand fiesta of the state is attended by lacs of people from all the parts of the countries. This celebration mainly takes place in the months of June or July.
Rakhi (August)
Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan in Kolkata is celebrated with charm and joy. Although Rakhi it is not the most important festival in Calcutta city yet people make it a point to celebrate the jolly occasion in the traditional manner and spirit. Here too, sisters' tie sacred thread of Rakhi on the wrist of their brother and pray for their well being and happiness. Yet, there is something that makes Raksha Bandhan celebrations in Kolkata beautifully different from the Rakhi celebrations seen in rest of country and that is the magical influence of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
Christmas (December)
The Christmas festival is also celebrated on a large scale like the Durga Puja. On this day, the various churches hold special prayers, including the Midnight mass. All the markets start preparing for this festival as the Bara Din (Big Day) or the Christmas arrives. Various stalls are put up in the market that sells the Christmas trees, pre-packed traditional stockings, baubles, streamers and glitter.
Bera Utsav (September)
Bera Utsav is mainly celebrated on the bank of river Bhagirathi near the palace of nawabs in Murshidabad. The major attraction of the Bera Utsav is splendid fire works on the bank of river Bhagirathi near the palace. The multihued fire works of different types and sizes add to the jauntiness of the festival. The festival is the major tourist attraction from distant places in the country.
Kolkata Festival (January)
The festival of Calcutta is full of fun and frolic; the festival attracts the local crowd, as well as people from neighboring districts. It is held every year in the centrally located maidan area of the city of Calcutta. Ethnic food stalls displaying Bengali cuisine and cultural events make this a lively occasion. There is lot of amusement games and enchanting gadgets, which brings the much desire gaiety for one and all. Held every year in the centrally located maidan area of the city of Calcutta. Ethnic food stalls displaying Bengali cuisine and cultural events make this a lively occasion.
Forthcoming events
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