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Bengali New Year History

The Bengali New Year celebration is popularly known as 'Poila Baisakh'. It's the first day of the Bengali New Year, which usually falls in mid-April every year.

Naba Barsha (Poila Baisakh) is a famous occasion for Bengalis. It is the first day of the first month of Bengali year. Naba Barsha ushers a new opening, a new anticipation, filled with delight, happiness and wealth. To greet the New Year, Bengalis beautify their homes by drawing attractive and colorful rangolis on the doorway with minced rice, which is identified in Bengal as "Alpana". In the center of the drawing, a red clay pot with a white 'Swastika' is placed. The pot is full with holy water and mango leaves and it is identified as a blessed one by the Bengalis. They offer puja to lord Ganesha and goddess Laxmi for the welfare and affluence of the families. Ladies wear conventional sari and decorate their hair with colourful flowers and men wear dhoti kurta. They all participate in the processions named 'Prabhat Pheri' early in the morning to welcome the first day of the year.The day is celebrated with feast and cultural activities. Naba-Barsha is also popular among the tribal people in the Hilly regions. New Year is especially colorful in the villages, with a day of sweets and special foods, music, dance and enjoyment.

The grass, the skies, trees - every natural object seems beautiful and glows with delight and cheerfulness. To each and every Bengali, it is an occasion of joviality to be enjoyed with immense merriment, in all possible way. Special dishes are prepared on this day.

For Bengali traders and shop owners, Poila Baisakh is Haal Khata time - an auspicious day to 'open' the ledger. Ganesh and Lakshmi Puja are solemnized in almost all shops and business centers, and regular customers are formally invited to attend the evening party. To consumers, it may not always be something to look forward to, for Haal Khata also means settling of all outstanding dues of the preceding year.

The sales and discounts offered in the Chaitra sales fairs make it easier for bengalis to buy a lots of gifts and clothes to celebrate their Nobo Borsho. All the people wear new clothes on Poila Boishakh and exchange sweets and gifts among friends and acquaintances. Young ones touch the feet of elders to get their blessings for the coming new year. People of same age group wish each other 'Shubho Nobo Borsho' (May the New Year be Auspicious for You).

The modern Bengali segment even use e-cards to greet their friends 'Shuvo Naba Borsho'. They also send SMS messages to their friends and acquaintances to wish Poila Boishakh. Music and cultural programmes including traditional dances are held in the evening of Poila Boishakh. One can hear Rabindranath Tagore’s famous song, 'Esho, hey Boishakh, Esho Esho (Come, O Boishakh, Come, Come) playing here and there in Kolkata along with other songs to welcome the new year.

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