Cultures, Fairs and Festivals Of Bengal...

West Bengal with eighteen districts and Kolkata, the city holding more than 13 million souls, comes to life during festival days. It is party time and everyone is invited. The festivals celebrated in Kolkata are characterized by fanfare, food, noise, processions and religious hymns. During festive days the city markets reflect the glitz and the glamour, streets choke as more and more people pump out of their homes, kitchens exude ravishing flavors and worshipping places present the sanctity of spiritual being. In Kolkata one can see the festivals, hear the festivals, smell the festivals, taste the festivals and truly feel the difference. Kolkata, the land of varied cultures and tradition, grace numerous festivals. Be it cultural or religious, it gives everyone an opportunity to enjoy and embrace ones roots. Festival in Kolkata is the time to rejoice and have fun.


 It was the 1st of January 1886 when Thakur Sri Ramakrishna Paramahmsa performed the Kalpataru Utsav. Now the Kalpataru Utsav is held at the Kakurgachi Yogaydyan under a mango tree. The sage is remembered through his teachings and philosophy.


 It is celebrated in the last day of the Bengali month of Poush. In Bengal, this day is one of the most auspicious times of the year. Thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the country gather at Gangasagar, the point where the holy river Ganges meets the sea, to take a dip and wash away all the earthly sins. Sweet dishes such as pitha, puli and payesh are made in every mother’s household kitchen from new jaggery of that year.


Calcutta Book Fair:
 Held every year from the end of January till early February, this 12-day long Book Fair was held over a large chunk of the Maidan near the crossing of Chowringhee and Park Street. Now it is held near Salt Lake.



The Sahajiya section has its biggest festival in the middle of January at Kenduli in Birbhum district. The district is the birth place of Jayadeva, the poet of Gita Govindam. Here, Sahajiyas from all parts of Bengal assemble in a week long festival, hold long sessions of highly exoteric songs and ecstatic dance and go through their characteristic forms of worship. The village and the environs are transformed into a vast fair ground, where every article of use and inexpensive finery are brought and sold and popular entertainments do brisk business. A similar mela is held at Ghosepara, near Kalyani on the day following Holi.


Dover Lane Music Conference:
 The largest Indian Classical musical event in Calcutta, the Dover Lane Music Conference has been taking place for the last 25 years. The festival is presented at Nazrul Mancha every year nearly between January 22 and 26.
Saraswati Puja
 Basant Panchami, the festival of goddess of learning, is celebrated by Students, artists and professors. This 'Panchami' is also known as Saraswati Day, because it is believed that on this day, goddess Saraswati was born.
Rabindranath Tagore, the famous saint-poet and the Indian Noble laureate, revived the spirit of Holi in India as the Spring festival or Vasant Utsav at Shanti Niketan. The students of Bishwabharati University here dress in yellow-colored dresses on this day and celebrate Holi by performing special cultural programmes such as group choreography, songs and dances. They welcome the Spring by staging various aspects of this joyous festival in an artistic manner. Later, all the students and teachers play Holi with 'abeer' and 'gulal', the colored powders and smear each other's faces with red, yellows and greens.
On the thirteenth day of the waning moon in the month of Phagun fall the festivals of Mahashivratri, symbolising the wedding day of Shiva and Parvati. This auspicious festival comes sometime in February and March according to English calendar.


'Neel Shasthi'
is the day in the Bengali month of Chaitra when Bengalis celebrate the marriage of Lord Shiva with Devi Parvati by offering Puja to the Lord.


 It is one of the most celebrated Bengali festivals. The local people of Calcutta call it Batri Charak. Mainly in the rural areas, members of agricultural communities widely celebrate this festival. Charak Puja is devoted to Lord Shiva and Sakti.
Poila Baisakh
It is a major celebration and the first day of Baisakh remains a holiday in Kolkata. The first month of the Bengali calendar, Baisakh, marks the beginning of the crop cycle in Bengal. The first day of this month is called Poila Baisakh is celebrated as the Bengali new year. Chances are, if you step into a shop in Calcutta on this day, you'll be offered sweets and maybe the odd gift or two. Traders start the New Year by inaugurating new accounting books.


Rabindra Jayanti
Poncheeshe Baisakh is celebrated to pay the homage to the great scholar of Kolkata, Rabindra Nath Tagore. Rabindra Jayanti is one of the most locally popular festivals of Kolkata. The festival is celebrated on 8th or 9th day of the month May every year. The festival is marked by a number of cultural shows and performances throughout the city of Kolkata.


Buddha Purnima
The birth anniversary of Lord Buddha is celebrated all over India both by the Mahayana and the Hinayana Buddhists as the Buddha Purnima


The flavour of family bonding finds expression through its social customs. Bengal's son-in-laws get a day to come closer with their other family in a very traditional way. A treat for the son-in-law waits every year from his in-laws or 'Shoshur Bari'- as they say in Bengal. Held in the Bengali month of 'Jaistha', Jamaishasthi is a social custom.


Devi Ganga, the Hindu goddess of rivers, is worshipped in the Bengali month of Jaistha with pomp & splendor through out the Gangetic Bengal.


Lord Krishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu spent his youth in the pastures of Vrindavana. He was the uncrowned prince of the shepherds and was loved and respected by all.


The incident of his birth and his transportation to Brindaban is celebrated all over Bengal, the scenes being depicted with clay models.


 Rath Yatra
The Rath Yatra festival falls on the late of June or early July. It is celebrated in the honour of Lord Jagannath an avatar of Vishnu.



Kartick Puja
Kartick month is a fortunate month and on the eleventh day from no-moon women on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi carry out an exclusive festival called Kartick Puja.


Anna Purna Puja
“Anna’ means foods and grains. ‘Purna’ means full, absolute and perfect. Annapurna is respected, supreme goddess, who is complete and perfect in food and grains and is worshipped in the month of Kartick



Devi Manosha, the patron saint of serpents and snake catchers, is supposed to be the daughter of Lord Shiva. Her popularity is somewhat restricted to Bengal but even then she holds a high position in the Hindu belief.


Biswakarma Puja
The month of September brings with it an essence of the forthcoming festivities. The pleasant weather of early autumn, with cloud scattered across the sky looks more colourful with the numerous kites floating side by side on this festive day. The festival of the God of Architecture and engineering, Biswakarma, is celebrated in September by industrial houses, artists, craftsmen, and weavers.


The traditional six day countdown to Maha Saptami starts from Mahalaya. Goddess Durga visits the earth for only four days but seven days prior to the Pujas, starts the Mahalaya.



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 Sakti 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 aspect.
Kojagari Lakshmi Puja is an important puja and worship of Goddess Lakshmi on the full moon day in the month of Ashwin in Bengal and eastern parts of India.


Kali Puja
After nineteen days of the completion of the Durga Puja  After nineteen days of the completion of the Durga Puja, the city get geared up to celebrate another popular festival, the Kali Puja Kali is worshipped as the Mother Goddess who protects from evil.


Bhai Phonta
It is an event especially among Bengalis when the sister prays for her brother's safety, success and well being.


Jagaddhatri Puja
She is the savior of the universe is the Goddess who comes to save the people from the demonic reign of the asuras.


Rash Yatra
is one of the many festivals in the busy Bengali calendar, held in the month of December every year. It is a festival to commemorate the feats of Lord Krishna and is more acclaimed due to the fairs held in different parts of Bengal. Orthodox Vishnava festivals like Ras Purnima celebrated in the late autumn; Jhulan Purnima and Janmashtami celebrated in mid-monsoon, Dhulat Purnima in late winter are held at Nabadiwip and all seats of Vaishnava saints. These festivals draw a large assembly of the devout. The programmes include ceremonial worship of Krishna-Radha, Kirtan, Sankirtan (choral incantation of the names of Hari, Krishna, Rama, Sri Chaitanya and his immediate disciples) and communal feeding.


Calcutta Film Festival:
Every November between 10 and 17, the Calcutta Film Festival is a gala event, showing films in various theaters, holding seminars, exhibitions and book bazars, attracting large crowds of film-lovers. The hub of all activities is Nandan.



Poush Mela
 It has its origin in the year 1843. Maharishi Debendranath Tagore got converted and was formally announced as a Brahmo, towards the end of the year 1843. The years that followed saw more conversions, from Hindu to Brahmo faith. The Maharishi realized the grave problem of disintegration in the community and it was to organize this very particular community that a congregation was held on 7th December in the year 1845. The trust founded by the Maharishi carried on the mission and on 21st December, 1895 the first Poush Mela was held at Santiniketan.


It marks the conclusion of a month of fasts (Ramzan) and is comparable in the splendour of celebrations to the Durga Puja of the Hindus. Wearing of New clothes is a must and after the special Morning Prayer which is joined by every male in front of a mosque or in an open space, there is a general round of embracing. It is a day of feasting and quiet merriment, assembles for religious discourses being a main part of the days observances.
It is the time to rejoice. The sleigh bells remind us of the generous Santa who makes his appearance every winter month with a sack full of goodies. People all over the world reconnect with friends and family on Christmas Day. Prayers to Jesus Christ are offered on chapels and churches. Owing to its colonial legacy, Kolkata has a nostalgic relationship with Christmas. Christmas, although a festival of Christians, gets an entirely cosmopolitan dimension in here. For Kolkata, Christmas is synonymous with yummy cakes and pastries from Flurry’s, Nahoum’s or Kathleen, Santa Claus replicas in New Market and glittering decorations along Park Street. Park Street, the sunset boulevard of Kolkata, was awake the whole night as the eastern metropolis threw a big Christmas party with cakes, carols and a chorus of prayer in the churches and Mother House, the global headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity (MoC) founded by Nobel peace prize winner Mother Teresa.