Posted by: motso | December 14, 2006

Bengali Festival

Bengali festival

Being the land of varied cultures and tradition, Bengal is a state that graces festivals both on the cultural and religious grounds. Baro maashey Tero Parbon (13 festivals in 12 months) is a phrase that developed on this ground; Bengal’s festivals literally exceed the number of months in the calendar. Let’s start with the biggest among the big; Durga Puja, what signifies the worship of ‘Shakti’ or the divine power has now changed into a celebration of lights and unbound revelry over four continuous days, either in the last part of September or in October (Autumn), namely Shashthi (6th), Saptami (7th), Ashtami (8th) and Nabami (9th). The festival ends on Bijoy Dashami (10th). However, one thing does require a mention here; the festival has its origins in the period of Sree Raam, who hastily worshipped the Goddess Durga before setting for Lanka to rescue Sita from Raban. According to Puranas, King Suratha, used to worship the goddess Durga in spring. Another name for the festival is Akal Bodhon or untimely worship since Durga Puja was originally celebrated in Spring, but over the years, Akal Bodhon has become the tradition among the Bengali people. Next comes Lakshmipuja, or the festival that worships Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and one of the daughters of Durga. Usually performed a week after Durga puja on a full moon night. The other form of worshipping the Divine Power is Kalipuja, which is performed towards the end of Autumn or at the onset of winter in Bengal specifically on a new moon night. The rituals performed in Kalipuja are quite Spartan in nature and the offerings are made with great devotion. Sacrificial killings used to be a part of the ritual until last year (2005); however, the government has put a ban on it as of now. Kalipuja also marks the end of all Hindu religious festivals of that year. The onset of every new-year is marked by Saraswati Puja, the goddess of wisdom. Performed every February, it is a day that prohibits everyone from studying and it is a must for the youngest girl in the family to wear yellow-coloured saree. Celebrated in every educational institution as well as in every locality, Saraswati Puja is a custom that can truly be said the festival of the learned. Among the non-religious festivals, the one that holds the most significance among the Bengali people is Poyla Baishakh; it is equivalent to the first of January and is considered to be the most auspicious day for marriages and starting new business ventures. Cultural programs dominate a large part of the day; prayers are offered for the wellbeing and prosperity of the families. This is also the day when Bengalis flock to the temple of Goddess Kali apart from Kalipuja. But things do not end there. What we brought into the limelight are the accounts of the five major ones; Islam followers being an integral part of Bengal also have their share of festivals that stall the entire city and provide a chance to rejoice fully the very essence of it. But that’s another story and should appear within sometime on the same pages.

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