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Festivals and Events

Festivals and Events of West Bengal carry a distinct charm of their own. Expressing the cultural dynamism of the state, the Events and Festivals are celebrated throughout the year. Durga Puja, Eid, Diwali, Kali Puja, Christmas, Doljatra and Poila Baishakh are only a few Festivals among many others.

West Bengal is regarded as the pulsating ground of traditional richness. A thriving place of cross-cultural celebrations, the state becomes a bustling platform of exultation and merriment during the various local Festivals.

Be it the pious and popular Festivals of Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Doljatra or be it the glorious Events of Poila Baisakh, Ganga Sagar Mela and Shivaratri, the store of fiestas seems infinite in West Bengal.

The customary tradition of celebrating Durga Puja is followed by the people of West Bengal from ancient periods. Today, the Festival has crossed not only the local boundaries of the state but also has successfully spread its magical spell beyond the national boundaries. The celebrations of Durga Puja are cherished through four whole days. Saptami being the first day, is followed by ashtami, navami and bijaya dashami.

Eid is another major Festival which is celebrated by the Muslim communities of West Bengal as well as Islamic sects of other parts of the world.

While the Diwali Festival is celebrated by the people of North India, Kali Puja is followed to worship Goddess Kali in West Bengal.

Christmas is the biggest Festival of Christian people who celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on this day.

Doljatra is a major Event of West Bengal as on this occasion people splash each other with colors. Poila Boisakh is yet another significant Event in the calendar of Bengalis as on this day they welcome the New Year.

There is no denying the fact that Festivals and Events provide a charismatic effect to the entire identity of West Bengal.

The link to various Festivals and Events of West Bengal is given below:
  • Durga Puja

    Celebrating the triumphant victory of Devi Durga over the devil of devils Mahisashura, the people of Bengal engross themselves in the jubilant aura of Durga Puja during the autumnal season. Saptami, ashtami, navami and vijaya dashami are the four main days of the festival when the idol of the Goddess is worshipped.

    The myths surrounding the history of Durga Puja in Bengal tell a very interesting story. Once the demon Mahisasura succeeded to please Lord Shiva through his sincere meditation. As a result, Lord Shiva blessed him with an immortal life. After this incident Mahisasura turned into his true self and started killing people without a second thought.

  • Eid

    West Bengal, the gateway to eastern India abounds in colorful and exuberant festivities. Colloquially, it is said that the Bengali calendar of 12 months celebrates 13 festivals. The secular state not only celebrates the Bengali festivals, Id and Christmas are also celebrated with great fervor.

    Id is the largest Muslim festival that is celebrated with pomp and grandeur throughout West Bengal. Id-ul-Fitr is celebrated after the culmination of the Ramzan month that involves a grueling period of prayers and fasting until sundown. The last ten nights of the Ramzan month are the sacred days of Lailut-ul-Kadar or "the nights of power". The holy Koran supposedly descended from heaven during the days of Lailut-ul-Kadar. However the actual origin of this auspicious moment is a secret shared between Allah and the Prophet.

  • Diwali

    West Bengal's pride lies in its glorious Bengali culture and cuisine. The Bengalis are warm and friendly who love to celebrate every occasion with pomp and grandeur. Diwali, the festival of light and sound is one of the state's eminent festivals.

    West Bengal's biggest festival, Durga Puja is a grand affair that witnesses hordes of people from the state and outside, flooding the streets to get a glimpse of the spectacle at the numerous pandals.

    The festival of lights, Diwali or Deepawali, follows Durga Puja.

  • Kali Puja

    West Bengal, with its cultural extravaganzas and festive celebrations is a popular tourist hub. The colorful Bengali culture and the city's vivacious citizens love to celebrate every joyous occasion with gaiety. Kali Puja, a quintessential Bengali festival is celebrated opulence and splendor in the state.

    West Bengal's largest festival, Durga Puja is celebrated with pomp and grandeur throughout the state. Five days hence on a beautiful full moon or Purnima night when the silky moonlight whitewashes the entire universe, the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi is worshipped on Lakshmi Puja.

    The next dark and sinister new moon or Amavasya night in autumn commences with the celebrations of Diwali and Kali Puja in West Bengal. The idols of Goddess Kali, the dangerous incarnation of Goddess Durga look terrifying with her dark and glowering skin, blood smeared appearance and petrifying third eye, as she stands tall in her fiery temper clad only in serpentine garlands of snakes and skulls.

  • Rasajatra

    Among the numerous Bengali festivals, the Rasajatra is a popular one. Rasajatra is a religious festival celebrated all over the state of West Bengal. It is held every year usually in the winters around the month of December.

    This festival of Rasajatra, also known as Rash Jatra, is observed in different parts of West Bengal in order to honor and venerate Lord Krishna. The festival specially brings into one's mind the countless activities and deeds that are marvelous and miraculous. It emphasizes the period when the Lord was in Brindaban, always surrounded by His cowboy friends.

    In Rasajatra, Lord Krishna is worshipped and fairs that are held all over the state of West Bengal during Rasajatra are extremely famous and people throng the fairs. Lord Krishna is worshipped at a stretch for seven days. The life of Lord Sri Krishna and his several miraculous deeds are all depicted in these fairs. The fairs that are held in the time are popularly known as Rasa Mela or Rash Mela.

  • Navanna

    Navanna is a harvest festival, not much unlike the Tamil festival Pongal, celebrated in West bengal. Navanna is celebrated in the eastern region of the Indian Subcontinent. Nava means new and Anna means grain. It is celebrated when the 'aman' paddy is harvested. Harvest festivals are an integral part of India. India is primarily an agricultural nation, and much of the harvest output depends on timely rainfall. So, the festivals are organized with huge grandeur to appease the gods so that the yields remain high all year long.

    In Bangladesh, Navanna was primarily a Hindu festival. This used to be celebrated after the autumn harvest. Like Mahalaya, a vital rite of this festival was to propitiate the ancestors with new rice. Thereafter, offerings would be made to deities, the sacred fire, animals and Brahmins. Rice is an important part in this festival. Rice paste is used to decorate courtyards and rice cakes are exchanged with neighbors.

  • Christmas

    The state of West Bengal abounds in cultural extravaganzas and fairs and festivities. The secular state finds an occasion to celebrate every joy that life offers and rejoices in the festive celebrations of every caste and creed. Christmas, a traditional Christian festival is also celebrated with grandeur.

    Kolkata as well as the suburbs of West Bengal comprises of a sizable Christian populace. Hence Christmas, the annual festival that is celebrated on 25th December to mark the birth of Jesus Christ, is celebrated in West Bengal with great splendor. Colloquially referred to as Bara Din by the Bengalis, West Bengal celebrates Christmas in traditional style with Christmas trees, gifts and the conventional meal of stuffed turkey and roast pudding.

  • Ganga Sagar Mela

    The state of West Bengal is opulent in cultural extravaganzas and festive celebrations and has plenty to speak for itself. The exuberant citizens indulge in colorful festivities throughout the year and zealously celebrate all occasions. Gangasagar Mela is possibly the state's largest fair.

    As the name suggests, Gangasagar Mela is held in South 24 Pargana district's, Gangasagar or the shores of the voluminous Bay of Bengal. The festival commences on Makar Sankranti when hordes of pilgrims and devotees flock to the picturesque Sagar Dwip islands.

    The annual fair is hosted during the winter months of January and February. Chilly sea breeze and wisps of salt water sting people's faces as they arrive here to take a dip in the holy waters and be absolved of their sins.

    The three day long affair is a gala occasion in the state. Pilgrims from all nooks and crannies of the country arrive to take a bath in the freezing seawater to seek penance and the lord's benediction.

  • Poush Mela

    West Bengal, a state noted for its scenic beauty, cultural legacy and age-old history abounds in fairs and festivities. Poush Mela is one such gala fair, held in Shantiniketan that depicts the quintessential Bengali culture.

    Early winter in Shantiniketan, the scenic paradise in West Bengal's Birbhum Dsitrict commences with the annual Poush Mela. The fair is hosted between 7th and 9th of the month of Poush, near about the time when the present year is bid farewell and preparations are made to welcome the New Year, with its new hopes and new promises.

    Shantiniketan, the famed land from where the renowned Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore drew his inspiration abounds in cultural and intellectual festivities throughout the year. Poush Mela is possibly the most significant festival hosted in the fair grounds of Shantiniketan.

  • Joydev Mela

    West Bengal, the hot seat of Bengali culture is noted for its age-old history and traditional culture. The people are warm and friendly and love to celebrate life through fairs and festivals. Among the various fairs, Joydev Mela is a traditional cultural festival that is celebrated with religious fervor.

    It is said that the twelve months of the Bengali calendar are teeming with thirteen festivals. The enthusiastic and exuberant Bengalis just need a reason to celebrate every little occasion. Joydev Mela is hosted every year in the fair grounds at Burdwan's Kenduli.

    A tiny, picturesque hamlet located on the outskirts of Kolkata, not too far away from Tagore's haunt, the legendary Shantiniketan gets all decked up in festive spirit as winter approaches. The fair is hosted in early January to pay a tribute to the genius of the Bhakti cult poet Jaydev. The fair is alive with folk traditions and religious zeal as tourists and pilgrims from all corners of the country flock to the fair's premises.

  • Saraswati Puja

    Saraswati Puja is one such festival that almost all the Bengali homes in West Bengal celebrate. On this day, the Goddess of knowledge and fine arts is worshipped with great fervor. The Bengali community considers knowledge and fine arts as an integral part of its life. People of all age participate in Saraswati Puja with unparallel intensity.

    The Puja of Goddess Saraswati is a must in most of the Bengali homes. Even the people who are atheist celebrate Saraswati Puja in their houses. It is probably because Goddess Saraswati is considered the epitome of knowledge and fine arts. People in West Bengal give a lot of importance to the erudition and cultural values. There is hardly any artiste in the West Bengal who does not perform Saraswati Puja. The Goddess of knowledge and fine arts is clad in white sari with a 'Beena' in her left hand.

  • Shivaratri

    The auspicious festival of Shivaratri is observed with a lot of dedication all across the country but with a little variation in different states, which is probably due to differences in the regions. Shivratri in West Bengal is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm.

    The devotees go for a day long fast on Shivratri. The Shiv puja is held at night and the ritual is to bathe the Shiv Linga in milk. In West Bengal, the tradition is to make four Shivlingas, which should ideally be made of a kind of fertile clay. In West Bengal, this kind of clay is found on the banks of the sacred river, Ganga. These four Shiv Lingas are offered one by one during the nightlong puja. The entire night is divided into four equal periods, which are called 'prahar'. In the first prahar, the Shivalinga is bathed in pure milk. In the second prahar it is dipped in curd, in the third period the Linga is bathed with ghee while in the fourth one it is immersed in honey. After the nightlong puja, the devotees finally break their fast by taking the 'prasad'.

  • Poila Baishakh

    The Bengali New Year is also known as Poila Baishakh in West Bengal. The first day of the annual Bengali Calendar, is marked with heartfelt festivities and celebration across the entire state. The first month of the Bengali Calendar is the month of Baishakh and the first day or the 'poila' of the month indicates the beginning of the New Year for the Bengalis. It is festive time for everybody.

    In the Bengali New Year, people hug each other with warmth-filled hearts and greet 'Subho Nabo Borsho', which in Bengali means Happy New Year. The whole of Bengal celebrates irrespective of any regional or religious differences in this event. Bengalis outside West Bengal also observe this happy occasion. It is usually in the middle of the English month of April when the Bengali New Year is celebrated.

  • Rathayatra

    West Bengal, a land of warm and exuberant people is known for its colorful festivals. It is said that the twelve months of the Bengali calendar are busy with thirteen festivals. One of Bengal's traditional festivals is Rathayatra, a colorful festival where people scramble to pull the chariots carrying Lord Jagganath.

    Rathayatra is mainly celebrated in West Bengal's Hoogly District in the early monsoon months of June-July when the rumbling over looming nimbus clouds explode to unfold a rich blue sky accompanied by heavy downpours. Mahesh, situated on the western banks of the Hoogly River near Serampore is globally renowned for its grand Rathayatra celebrations. The legendary Mahesh Rathayatra of the year 1875 was an inspiration behind the literary masterpiece Radharani written by the master creator Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya.

  • Vishnupur Festival

    ishnupur in West Bengal is famous for its wonderful Terracotta art, ancient temples, graceful silk sarees and rich musical tradition. All these specialties of the place are made prominent in the Vishnupur Festival in Vishnupur, Bankura. The Vishnupur Festival is organized every year in the month of December between the 27th and 31st. The venue is near the famous Madanmohana Temple in the town.

    The Vishnupur Festival has emerged as a very popular festival for the local people and for the tourists too. Numerous artists come in the festival to showcase and sale their magnificent Terracotta works, sculptors and carvings. Local handicrafts flock in the exhibition arena with their products. Handicrafts from other places of the state also attend the festival. Stalls displaying authentic silk sarees, seashell works, Chou masks, clothes and delicacies are set up. Vishnupur is a also a name in the Indian classical music circuit for its own school of music, the Vishnupur Gharana. Singers and musicians from far and near belonging to the Vishnupur Gharana and other classical styles enrich the festival. With the presence of so many eminent musicians, the place becomes a haven for the classical music lovers. This is where the Vishnupur Festival differs from other ordinary fairs and festivals. The festival is an unparallel blend of art, music, culture, history and tradition. No wonder it is being promoted as an important tourism attraction.

  • Rash Mela

    The Rash Mela is held every year to let the people indulge in the festivities involving the Rash Yatra Festival. Many fairs are organized around the state of West Bengal, including some in the capital, Kolkata but the greatest of them is the annual Rash Mela in Cooch Behar.

    One of the popular Bengali festivals, the Rash Yatra Festival is observed in the honor of Lord Krishna and his eternal love Sri Radhika. The Rash Yatra Festival is celebrated to remember the love story of Lord Krishna and his glorious days that he spent in Vrindyavan. Although the Rash Yatra Festival is celebrated all over the state but it is mostly popular in North Bengal. In the northern parts of Bengal it has been celebrated from ages. Once coordinated by the Rajahs and Maharajahs, the festival has emerged more as a public affair nowadays but the old significance and royal traditions have been retained with respect. The magnificent Rajbari or the palace of Cooch Behar gets decked up during the Rash Yatra Festival. The whole complex adorns a carnival look during the Rash Mela with colorful stalls, enthusiastic crowd, rich collection of handicrafts and other products.

Last Updated on 21 March 2013