Pohela Boishakh is the Bengali New Year and is celebrated in the Indian state of West Bengal and the country of Bangladesh. The festival usually falls on April 14th or 15th every year, according to the Bengali calendar.
Pohela Boishakh is a time of joy, renewal, and hope. The celebration of the Bengali New Year begins with the cleaning of homes and the decoration of streets with colorful ribbons, balloons, and traditional motifs like alpana or rangoli. People wear new clothes and gather in large numbers to participate in various cultural programs and traditional activities.
One of the most important events of Pohela Boishakh is the procession or “Prabhat Pheri” which is led by musicians and dancers. People participate in this procession, singing traditional songs and dancing to the beats of the dhol and dhak (traditional drums).
Another important tradition of Pohela Boishakh is the preparation of special dishes like Panta Bhat (a dish of leftover rice soaked in water), Ilish Bhaja (fried hilsa fish), and Chomchom (a popular sweet made with chhena or cottage cheese). These dishes are usually prepared and shared among family and friends to celebrate the occasion.
Many cultural programs and fairs are organized in West Bengal and Bangladesh during Pohela Boishakh. These programs feature traditional dance forms like Jatra, Baul, and Rabindra Sangeet. People also visit temples and offer prayers to seek blessings for the New Year.
Here are some popular dishes that are made for Pohela Boishakh:
Panta Bhat: This is a traditional Bengali dish made with leftover rice that is soaked overnight in water. It is typically served with fried fish, pickles, and green chilies.
Ilish Bhaja: This is a popular Bengali dish made with fried hilsa fish. The fish is marinated with spices and then fried until crispy.
Shorshe Ilish: This is another popular Bengali dish made with hilsa fish. The fish is cooked in a mustard sauce with green chilies and served with rice.
Chomchom: This is a popular Bengali sweet made with chhena or cottage cheese, dipped in sugar syrup and flavored with cardamom.
Mishti Doi: This is a sweetened yogurt dessert that is popular in West Bengal. It is made by boiling milk and then adding a culture of yogurt and sugar.
Sandesh: This is another popular Bengali sweet made with chhena or cottage cheese, sugar, and flavored with cardamom or saffron.
Luchi and Cholar Dal: This is a traditional Bengali breakfast dish made with deep-fried flatbread called Luchi and a spicy lentil curry called Cholar Dal.
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How is Ugadi celebrated?
On this day, people wake up early in the morning, take a bath, and decorate their houses with mango leaves and rangolis.
It is believed that Lord Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, started the creation of the universe on this day.They also offer prayers to Lord Brahma, and seek his blessings for a happy and prosperous new year.
People prepare special dishes like Ugadi pachadi (a mixture of six different tastes -to remind us of the qualities of LIFE itself – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy, and tangy), pulihora (tamarind rice), bobbatlu (sweet stuffed bread), and other traditional delicacies.
People also exchange gifts and sweets with each other and visit temples to offer their prayers.
The significance of Ugadi festival is both religious and cultural.
It marks the beginning of a new year and is considered an auspicious day to start new ventures and make important decisions.
It also signifies the onset of spring and the harvest season, and people pray for a good crop and prosperity. On the religious front, the festival marks the beginning of the Vasant ritu (spring season) and is considered an auspicious time to start new ventures, such as business, education, and marriage.
In Karnataka, Ugadi is also known as “Yugadi” and it holds great significance in the state’s cultural and traditional heritage. On this day, people clean their houses and decorate them with fresh flowers and mango leaves, which are considered auspicious.
In some parts of Karnataka, people also perform the ritual of “Panchanga Shravana” where they listen to the predictions for the upcoming year according to the Hindu lunar calendar. The predictions are based on astrological calculations and are believed to give an insight into the future.
Panchangam is an astrological almanac used in South India to calculate auspicious timings and events according to the Hindu lunar calendar. (In the north it’s called Panchang)
Panchangam is closely related to the study of astronomical positions of stars, constellations, and planets. It is based on the positions of the moon and other planets in the solar system, as well as the 27 constellations or Nakshatras that the moon travels through during its revolution cycle around the earth.
The calculation of the Tithi, Nakshatra, Yoga, Karana, and Var (Panchangam means five limbs in Sanskrit) are all based on the positions of the moon, sun, and other celestial bodies in the solar system.
Read More about Panchangam
Let’s take a look at the five parts of the Panchangam in more detail:
Tithi – A Tithi is a lunar day, which is calculated based on the position of the moon in relation to the sun. There are 30 Tithis in a lunar month, each lasting for approximately 24 hours. The Tithi is used to determine auspicious and inauspicious timings for various events, such as weddings, business deals, and other important activities.
Nakshatra – The Nakshatras are the 27 constellations that the moon travels through during its cycle. Each Nakshatra is associated with a specific set of characteristics and is believed to have a particular impact on human life. The Nakshatra is used to determine the most auspicious time for starting a new venture or undertaking a new project.
Yoga – The Yoga is the combination of the positions of the sun and the moon, and it is used to determine the auspicious and inauspicious timings for various activities, such as traveling, starting a new job, or buying a new home.
Karana – The Karana is a half Tithi, which is used to determine the most auspicious time for certain activities, such as cutting hair, trimming nails, and other personal grooming activities.
Var – The Var refers to the day of the week and is used to determine the auspicious and inauspicious timings for various activities, such as starting a new business, getting married, or signing a new contract.
The Panchangam is used by astrologers, priests, and individuals to determine the most auspicious timings for various activities and events in their lives. For example, if someone is planning to start a new business, they may consult the Panchangam to determine the most auspicious date and time for launching their venture.
It takes into account the day, time, and location to create a personalized calendar for a specific region or individual.
Another popular tradition on Ugadi in Karnataka is the “Huli Vesha” or the Tiger Dance, where people dress up in tiger costumes and dance to the beats of drums and other musical instruments.
The dance is believed to bring prosperity and good luck to the community.
In Karnataka it’s celebrated on the same day as in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.