It’s that time of the year again, when amidst scorching days, stuffy nights and occasional bouts of soothing ‘kalboishakhi’ downpours, Bengalees gear up to welcome their new year in all its glory. With the advent of the month of Baisakh, by mid-April, the Bengali New Year officially starts. The name itself literally signifies the first day of the month of Baisakh, with ‘poila’ meaning first. This is a festival that has managed to uphold its charm even to the generation of mall-lovers and coffee-shop frequenters. On this day, Bengalees round the globe follow some simple rituals like adorning brand new traditional clothes, decorating their homes with garlands and ‘alpona’ and doing ‘puja’.
‘Haalkhata’ is another one of the rituals that hold utmost importance. This is mainly followed by traders – who consider first day of the new year to be an auspicious day to ‘open’ the ledger. Puja is offered to Ganesha and Lakshmi in all shops and business centers. Puja is also offered at Kalighat, one of the most important temples to Hindus. Regular customers are invited for meals and packets of sweets are sent to their families.
Exchanging poila baisakh gifts is another important aspect of this festival. Besides clothes, other pleasantries like home décor items and flowers, are also gifted to near and dear ones. In the last few years, the trend of availing online cake delivery has also gained much popularity, especially among the younger generations. Those who stay abroad or even in other states of the country send flowers online to their friends and family back home in Bengal.
However, no Bengalee celebration is complete without gourmet dishes. Bengalees are foodies by nature and this is one of those occasions when they make sure to stick that reputation fairly well. The sweet shops are crowded round the clock during poila boisakh and various restaurants offer Bengalee food festival discounts and deals to clients to help them celebrate. Various delicacies are also made at homes and traditional sweets Rosogolla, Payesh, Sandesh, Kalakand and Ras Malai are there to satisfy the sweet tooth. It is believed by one and all, that a sweet start to the New Year paves the way for sweeter days all through it.