|Poila Baishakh ( new year)||Krisi (agricultural) Mela||Paus Mela (winter fair)|
|Nauka Baich (rowing) Mela||Ghora Daur (horse race) Mela||Garu Daur ( bull race) Mela|
|Lathi Khela ( stick fight)||Legendary Fairs||Animal Exibition Fair|
|Baul Mela||Bride Selection Fair||Friendship Fair|
|Kite Fair||Cottage Industries Fair||Fair of Jaminder (Feudal Lord)|
|Chaitra Sankranti||Rath Jatra||Gajon|
|Dashara||Shib Ratri||Buddha Purnima|
|Fair of Gazi||Fair of local god||Fair of Dervish|
|Fair of Peer||Fair of Sage||Baro Din (Xmas)|
is the first month of Bengali calendar. It ushers the beginning of agricultural
production of Bengal. Though over the years English calendar has gained
precedence, most of the events in the villages take place according to the
Bengali calendar. It is also considered to be the most auspicious month for
marriages and new business ventures.
first day of Baishakh is commonly referred as 'Poila Baishakh'. This day people
wear new dresses and go about socializing. Chaitra the last month of the
previous year is the month of hectic activities and frantic purchases. Garment
traders organize a Chaitra sale and sell the garments with heavy discounts.
is the day for cultural programs. All over Bangla, across the border, men, women
and children take part in cultural programs. Prayers are offered for the
well-being and prosperity of the families. Young ladies clad in white saris with
red borders and men clad in either dhoti and kurta (Bangalee Hindus) or pajamas
and panjabis (Bangalee Muslims) take part in the processions (Prabhat Pheri)
early in the morning to welcome the first day of the year.
day being auspicious, new business and new ventures are started. The 'Mahurat'
is performed, marking the beginning of new ventures. The day of 'Poila Baishakh'
is the beginning of all business activities in Bangla. The traders purchase new
accounting books called 'Halkhata'. The accounting in the 'Halkhata' begins only
after offering puja. Mantras are chanted and swastikas are drawn on the
accounting book by the priests.
queues of devotees are seen in front of the Kalighat temple (in Kolkata) from
late night. Devotees offer puja to receive the blessings of the almighty. Poila
Baishakh bears immense significance in the life of all Bangalees. It marks as a
new beginning, a new hope, a year full of joy, well-being and prosperity.
Rath Jatra is one of the most holy as well as one of the hugely attended Hindu
long ago, King Indradumna Deb of Kalinga (Orissa), had a spectacular dream one
night. He dreamt of the gods telling him to worship Jagannatha Deb, an
incarnation of Lord Bishnu. The idol, as the dream showed, was to be built with neem
wood, which would be found on the seashore.
king being very pious, decided to follow the heavenly orders and as predicted by
the dream the wood was found on the seashore. The mason of the gods, Lord
Bishwakarma was requested to carry out the modeling and he agreed on one
condition – that nobody should disturb him or take a peek at his works until
he has finished. The king made the promise and the Lord started his works. But
one day, the curious king made the mistake of peeking into the room, which the
Lord was using as his studio. At that time all except the arms of the deities
were finished. Lord Bishwakarma was furious and left without completing the
statues. So the deities of Lord Jagannatha, his brother Lord Balarama
and their sister Debi Shubhadra are worshiped in the same form as Lord
Bishwakarma had left them. Every 12 years, as the custom goes, Lord Jagannatha,
Lord Balarama and Debi Shubhadra has a “Naba Kalebar” or a new body made of
neem wood, which is washed to the shore, by the sea.
Rath Jatra is a festival held at Puri, Orissa, to commemorate the visit of Lord
Jagannatha, his brother Lord Balarama and their sister Debi Shubhadra to the
house of their aunt Debi Gundicha, where they spent a fortnight every year. The
actual festival begins with the "Snanjatra". The deities are bathed
with water from an old well which is in the temple complex. Then the deities are
put on huge ornamented chariots and are pulled to their destination by millions
of devotees. In the procession, the first chariot on line is Taladhyaj, which
belong to Lord Balaram. 13.5 meters high, this bold blue structure stands on a
platform of fourteen wheels. The chariot Darpadalan, belonging to Debi Shuvadra
follows next. Crimson red in colour, this chariot is around 13 meters high and
moves on 12 wheels. Lord Jagannatha Deb's chariot Nandighosh is the last on the
line. Bright yellow in colour, this chariot is roughly 14 meters high and stands
on 16 wheels. There are 4 wooden horses in front of each chariot. The same is
done on the day of “UltoRath” when the deities return home, at the Puri
temple after the visit. The Rathjatra is one of the most holy as well as one of
the most hugely attended Hindu festivals. Not only the natives but also the
overseas tourists find this festival an intriguing affair.
is often said that after the Snan Jatra of Puri, 'Nilkantha' bird is seen
sitting on the Jagannath temple of Mahesh, in Sreerampur only 23 km from Howrah.
Lord Jagannath on his way to Snan Yatra had rested on the banks of river Ganga
in Mahesh. From then it acquired the status of a holy place. Even today
thousands of pilgrims who undertake Snan Jatra (pilgrimage) flock to Mahesh for
their holy dip.
acquired its importance when Drubananda Brahmachari started the Snan Jatra.
Around 500 years ago he had gone to the Jagannath temple of Puri to offer the
Lord offerings (bhog) with his own hands but the seboks (the attendants) did not
allow him to make such offerings. Anguished he went without food and almost
killed himself but it is told that in his dreams the Lord directed him to
Mahesh. Drubananda Brahmachari went to Mahesh. One rainy night he found 3 wooden
trunks of neem tree floating near the banks of river Ganga. With these
wooden planks he sculptured them into the Lord Jagannatha, his brother Lord
Balarama and their sister Debi Shubhadra. These wooden sculptures are still
worshiped today unlike the Puri's idols, which are changed every 12 years.
the Snan Jatra it takes 2 weeks to re-varnish and polish the idols is known as
"Angorag or Rupankan". A jagna (ritual) is then performed and the
deities are then kept on the alter and the temple door is re-opened for the
devotees. This is known as "Nabajauban Utsab". On the second day or
"dwitia"is the Rath Jatra. Unlike the three raths(chariots) of Puri,
Mahesh's Rath Jatra is graced with only one chariot but it is a four storied
chariot. Earlier this rath was made of wood but because of its deteriorating
condition, in the year 1292, the Dewan of Shyambazar, Krishnaram Basu made the
present rath. It is made of iron and wrapped up with wood and was built
by Martinbarn company. It is 50 feet high with nine temple tops and weighing 125
tonnes. England's Joy Engineering company built the 12 wheels of the chariot. In
front of the chariot are 2 copper horses and wooden swans. It was worth
Rs.20,000 then. The idol of Lord Jagannath is placed on the top most part of the
chariot. From Mahesh the Rath goes to Kunjobati, Lord Jagannath's aunt's place.
For nine days with Balarama and Shubhadra Lord Jagannath stays there and returns
on Skukla Dashami which is known as Ulta (upside down) Rath.
Nadiya, Mayapur, is the establishment of ISKCON, International society of
Krishna Consciousness. ISKCON establishments are also in Hyderabad, Brindavan
and Mumbai. Every year devotees of Krishna and Chaitanya from all over the world
visit these places to participate in the festivities of Rath Jatra. The "Hare
Ram Utsab" is also very famous. Kolkata’s
ISKCON's Rath Jatra started in the year 1972 and for three decades it has
gained great popularity among the devotees of other countries. There are 35
other countries that celebrate Rath Jatra in their own homeland.
Puja, the festival of Bangalees is the worship of 'Shakti' or the divine power.
Most of the religious celebrations in the world have legends surrounding them.
The fables are generally the fight between the forces of good and evil, the dark
forces eventually succumbing to the divine. Worship of goddess Durga is based on
myths where Durga symbolizes the divine power.
to Indian mythology Mahishasura, the king of Asuras (titans), through years of
austerities, was once granted a boon by Lord Bramha (the supreme god), that no
man or deity would be able to kill him. The immense power filled in him the urge
to rule over the world. He started to terrorize the inhabitants of both heaven
and earth. He pervaded the world with his battalion of Asuras and plundered and
ruthlessly killed the humans. Chaos and anarchy reigned. Gods were driven from
heaven and Mahishasura usurped the throne.
Gods terrified and unable to combat him, appealed to Lord Shib, Lord Bramha and
Lord Bishnu to stop Mahishasura's tyranny. In reply, the three gods combined
their divine energy and created a nymph so beautiful that it illuminated the
heavens. From the glow emerged Debi Durga, a beautiful yellow woman with ten
arms riding a lion. Despite her grace she bore a menacing expression, for Durga
was born to kill.
grown and beautiful Durga was immediately armed by the gods and sent forth
against Mahishasura bearing in each of her ten hands, symbols of their divine
power. Bishnu's discus; Shiva's trident; Barun's conch-shell; Agni's flaming
dart; Bayu's bow; Surya's quiver and arrow; Jom's iron rod; Indra's thunderbolt;
Kubera's club and a garland of snakes from Shesha and a lion as a charger from
Himalayas. A fierce battle took place. Finally when Mahishasura in the guise of
a buffalo charged against Durga, the Debi beheaded the buffalo and from it
emerged Mahishasura in his original form. Durga pierced his chest with the
trident and relieved the world from the evil power. That is why she is 'Durgatinashini
Durga', our mother goddess who destroys the evil, protects her devotees and
establishes peace and prosperity on earth.
Hindus worship Durga as the mother goddess, the epitome of 'Shakti' (divine
power), to deliver us from the evil and bring peace and prosperity in our lives.
But the most interesting part of Durga Puja is that, instead of placing Durga on
a high alter and worshiping her from a distance the Bangalees embrace her in
their hearts and make her an inseparable member of the family. Bangalees welcome
Durga to the earth as our daughter who comes at her parents' home for her annual
visits. Durga stays for four days-Shashti (6th), Saptami (7th),
Ashtami (8th) and Nabami (9th) along with her children,
Ganesh, Laxmi, Kartik and Saraswati and sets for her husband's abode on Bijoy
mode of journey to the earth is detailed in scriptures. The modes, an elephant,
a horse, palanquin, boat all signify luck or omen which influence the life on
earth. The elephant signifies prosperity and good harvest while journey on a
horseback indicates drought, a palanquin spells wide spread epidemic and the
boat suggests flood and misery.
worship of Debi Durga however owes its origin to Sree Raam. He hastily worships
Durga, the goddess of 'Shakti', just before he sets for Lanka to rescue Sita
from Raban. According to Puranas, King Suratha, used to worship the goddess
Durga in spring. Thus Durga Puja was also known as Basanti Puja. But Raam set
the tradition of worshipping Debi Durga in autumn and that is why it is known as
'Akal Bodhon' or untimely worship. Over the years, this Akal Bodhon has become
the tradition among Bangalees and in Bangla.
Puja is performed on a new moon night. As Kali is associated with dark rites and
demon worship, the rituals performed are austere and offered with great
devotion. Terrifying than Durga is Kali, the black earth-mother, whose rites
involve sacrificial killings (even human sacrifice in the past). Kali is
associated with bllod rites and necromancy.
has dark skin and hideous tusked face, smeared with blood, the brow bearing a
third eye, like Shib's. She has four arms. She holds in one a weapon, in another
the head of an asura (titan), dripping blood; the other two are raised to
bless the worshipers. Her body is naked except for her 'ornaments', which
include necklace of snakes, skulls and heads of her sons and a belt from which
hangs demon's hands, which signify Karma or action.
developed her blood lust after killing the demon Raktabera. Lord Brahma had
granted a boon to Raktabera that every drop of blood that fell from his body
would be able to produce thousands more like him. The only way Kali could kill
him was to hold him high, pierce him with a spear and drink all his blood as it
gushed out. Kali is often portrayed with her tongue hanging out and her mouth
dripping blood. This is said to signify the force that gives impetus to all
once gave free rein to her blind lust for destruction. On one occasion Shib
himself had to mingle among the demons whom she was slaughtering and allowed
himself to be trampled underfoot in her dance of victory, as it was the only way
to bring her to her senses and save the world from collapse. She acquired her
name Kali meaning 'conqueror of time' as she subdued her husband by trampling
way Debi Kali the symbol of fertility conquered Shib, the inexorable destroyer,
who was equated with time. Aspects of Kali are Chandi, the fierce and Bhairabi,
the terrible in which she is the counterpart to Shib's aspect of Bhairaba, when
he takes pleasure in destruction. Another name of this form is Chamunda.
Puja is performed on a new moon night. As Kali is associated with dark rites and
demon worship, the rituals performed are austere and offered with great
Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth is worshipped just after Durga Puja. Lakshmi is
one of the daughters of Durga who symbolizes wealth, peace and prosperity. On a
full moon night people worship her at their homes and pray for her blessings. It
is considered that Lakshmi visits those homes and replenishes their homes with
is generally represented as a beautiful golden woman, usually sitting or
standing on a lotus, her symbol. She is also known as Sri and attained
importance as the consort of Bishnu.
is generally believed to exist first as the daughter of the sage Bhrigu and to
have taken refuge in the ocean of milk during a period when the gods were exiled
from their kingdom as a result of a rishi's (sage) curse. She was reborn during
the churning of the milk ocean as Lakshmi, one of the fourteen precious things.
She emerged from the ocean like Venus, luscious and radiant, bearing a lotus in
her hand. Lakshmi was then married to Bishnu and has a clear share in Bishnu's
activities as preserver, and this reinforces her earlier character as goddess of
fortune and giver of wealth.
the Vedas, Saraswati was a water deity and was revered for purifying,
fertilizing and enriching powers. The next stage in Saraswati's
mythological history was her identification with the holy rituals performed on
the banks of river Saraswati. She is said to have invented Sanskrit, the
language of the Brahmins, of scriptures and scholarship. It is also believed
that it was her who discovered soma or amrita (elixir) in the Himalayas and
brought it to the other gods. Later myths diminished the powers of Saraswati.
She was said to be identical with Biraj, the female half or being created out of
the substance of Purusha or Prajapati and thus the instrument of creation. As
Brahma's wife, she provides the power to execute what Brahma has conceived with
his creative intelligence. She is the goddess of all the creative arts and in
particular of poetry and music, learning and science.
Celebration of Saraswati Puja is a big occasion in greater Bangla. The day has
been declared a state holiday. The pujas are held in every locality and in a few
homes as well. Since Saraswati is the goddess of learning, the students are the
most enthusiastic. They give 'Anjali' to the goddess and pray for their future.
The youngest girl of the family has to wear a yellow ('Basanti') coloured sari
as a custom. An essential requirement for the Saraswati puja is the 'Palash'
flowers without which the puja is considered to be incomplete. All the young
people living in the locality gather in the “pandal” (pavilion) to celebrate
the occasion. Music blares in the pandals and the children enjoy themselves. The
puja is performed by the 'Pujari' or pundit. After the puja is over, the 'prasad'
(food) is distributed among all the people present. In some places, they make it
a point to feed all the poor living in the locality.
both Hindus and Muslims, celebrate the more secular cultural festivals such as
Poila Baishakh, Paus Sankranti. In the past before the military backed rise of
Islamic fundamentalism, Babgale Muslims used to share (at least food) the
festivity of the Hindu religious festivals. Predominance of meat (specially beef
which the Hindus hold sacred) and the festivity consisting only of eating (Islam
prohibits dance, music and drinking) it has always been difficult for the Hindus
to participate in Muslim festivals. But many Muslims, despite the Mullah’s
fatwah used to participate in Hindu festivals (although the number is rapidly
diminishing in Bangladesh as more Hindus are forced to migrate to India) at
least for the innate festive nature of Hindu festivals (dance, colourful
presentation, food, drink etc).
Festivals of Bangalee Muslims are typical Arabian festivals grafted in Bangalee ethos, and hence little more improvised, as cultural imports from the arid Middle East. There are two Eids, Fitr and Ajha which consists only of praying in the mosque, hugging each other, wearing new clothes, and eating, as much as physiology permits and sometimes even ignoring physiological limitations as the Mullahs and gluttons often do, for the remaining two days.
Eid of Ramjan
EID prayer: Bangladeshi Muslims prostrating and praying before an Arabian God: Allah
Spree of feasts as
a month of austere fasting. As the Muslims
rely on lunar calendar,
eid of Ramjan rarely falls on the same day in all the Muslim countries around
In Bangladesh eid is observed on three different days. The Saudi lovers to it
when the Saudis do it. Paki lovers do it when the moon is seen in Islamabad not
in Dhaka and the rest follow the government dates.
In Bangladesh eid is observed on three different days. The Saudi lovers to it when the Saudis do it. Paki lovers do it when the moon is seen in Islamabad not in Dhaka and the rest follow the government dates.
as soon as the government appointed Mullah for the sight of the new moon determines
the day, the Muslims of all levels cheer up (fasting is over) and rush into a
shopping spree for food and clothes.
On the eve of eid women folk wake
past midnight to prepare for
feasts to eat and to entertain visitors with the following day. The men and the
kids wake up early in the morning, bathe, eat sweets and then the men folk head
up to the mosque to attend special Eid prayer.
The mosques are often overcrowded with people. The cleric read out, in
Arabic, the scriptures, which the Banglaee
audience don't understand. After hours
while the audience only look to the ground, the cleric then set out for the formal prayer. In the prayer the
cleric prays to Allah for the solidarity and prosperity of all Muslims around
After the prayer, the people start hugging (it's not mardi gra although looks like one) each other causing major traffic in the locality. Once the hugging is over they start giving coins to the swarmed beggars outside the mosque. As soon as the coins are finished, they head home with kids and enjoy the second course of meal (normally rich food with abundance of beef from cows smuggled from India). When the meals at home have been relished they head to their neighbours’, relatives and friends’ homes and keep eating. Eating is vigorously celebrated and reciprocated with the same zeal for the next two days.
Eid of Sacrifice
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