Pohela Boishakh: History, Celebration and Significance
Pohela Boisakh is an important festival for the Bengali community. This day is also known as Nobo Borso which means New Year. Like all traditional festivals, the Bengali New Year is considered to be an auspicious time for the community and is celebrated with great joy and exuberance.
This festival usually occurs on or around 14th April as per the Bangla calendar. People belonging to the Bengali community all over the world celebrate this festival with friends and family. A popular greeting for this day is Shubho Nabo Barsho which translates to ‘Happy New Year’.
In Bengali, Pohela means first and Boishakh is the initial month in the Bengali calendar. This festival also coincides with the first harvest of the season, making it an even bigger celebration in rural and agrarian parts of Bengal.
Pohela Boishakh 2023
While 14th April is typically considered to be the day for Pohela Boishakh celebrations, the day may change based on the sun’s movement in a year. Here are the details for the festival in 2023.
Pohela Boishakh Date: April 15, 2023 (Saturday)
Sankranti Time on Pohela Boishakh: 03:12 PM, April 14
This day will also mark the beginning of the Bengali Era 1430
Pohela Boishakh Significance
Pohela Baisakh is one of the most important festivals for the Bengali community and is a state holiday in Bengal. It is considered to be a highly auspicious day that brings with it peace and prosperity for the rest of the year.Offering prayers is an important ritual of this festival and several people flock to temples of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha to seek their blessings. From well-wishes for family and friends to prosperity for a business venture, prayers at this auspicious time are believed to bring goodwill for the year. The agrarian community offers prayers for a good harvest while people in commerce mark the start of this new fiscal year by opening new account books, also known as Haal Khaata.
Pohela Boishakh History
As per folklore, the origin of the Pohela Boisakh festival can be traced back to the Mughal era. It is believed that during the reign of Emperor Akbar, collecting taxes from pheasants was difficult the Islamic calendar, followed by the Mughals, did not coincide with the harvest season. To enable better tax collection, Akbar ordered the Islamic lunar calendar and Hindu solar calendar to be merged giving rise to this festival as well as ensuring taxes were collected after the harvest.
While this is one theory, some legends believe a 7th-century king, Shashanka was responsible for the Bengali calendar while Bengali Hindus attribute this occasion to emperor Vikramaditya and believe the Bengali calendar has its roots in 593 CE.
In 1987, April 14 was fixed as the official date of Pohela Boisakh which may vary based on the Bangla Calendar. This year the festival falls on 15th April.
Pohela Boishakh Importance
The festival of Pohela Boishakh holds a lot of importance for Bengalis. On this day, people from this community unite and come together regardless of caste and religious differences. Since it has its roots in agriculture, the festival is celebrated with a lot more reverence in rural parts of Bengal. People clean their homes, wake up early and visit temples to seek blessings from the Divine for peace and prosperity.
A lot of people also purchase gold and silver on this day. It is believed purchasing these metals on this auspicious day will bring prosperity and goodwill throughout the year. .
Pohela Boishakh Festival Celebration
This Bengali festival is celebrated with a lot of colour and enthusiasm. People draw an ‘alpona’ outside their homes in colourful designs, which is similar to a rangoli. They clean their homes and wear new clothes after their shower. While some people go to the temples to offer prayers, others choose to conduct certain rituals in their homes. People also engage with their community and meet friends and family to celebrate this occasion.The community also celebrates with processions, music, and good food. The Boishakhi Mela is a popular attraction of this day. This fair starts on Pohela Boishakh and carries on for a few days. It consists of rides for children, stalls for food agricultural goods, cosmetics, jewellery and cultural-rich programmes.
Traditional Attires on Pohela Boishakh
To celebrate this holy festival, Bengalis prefer to opt for traditional attires in their regional colours of red and white. Women can be seen wearing white sarees white a red border or a salwar-kameez in this colour scheme. Men typically wear kurta pyjama or lungi to celebrate this occasion.Children also wear traditional attire in bright colours to celebrate this festival. Additionally, women and children also use colourful accessories such as flowers in their hair, bangles, and other ornaments to dress up on this day.
Food for the Festival
Indian festivals are known for their food and the Bangla Noboborsho is no exception. One can find the best traditional foods of the Bengali cuisine in every home and community gathering. Several restaurants also come up with a special menu for this occasion with traditional Bengali dishes.
Some of the popular dishes on Pohela Boishakh include Fish Curry (deep-fried fish in mustard gravy), Aloo Dum (potatoes cooked in Bengali-style curry), Mishti Pulao (fragrant rice with vegetables and dry fruits), Bengali Mutton Jhol (mutton cooked in Bengali yoghurt curry), Luchi (fried Bengali bread), and Bengali Kasha Mangsho (traditional Bengali dish with potatoes, chicken, and spices).
When it comes to a Bengali celebration, it cannot be complete without a choice of traditional desserts. The most popular options include Rasgulla, Sandesh, Payesh, and more.
Regional Variations Of Pohela Boishakh
Pohela Boishakh is also known as Pahela Boishakh and Poila Baishak. Along with being a major Bengali festival, this auspicious time also coincides with other celebrations in India. People in different parts of the country celebrate this day as the harvest festival as well as the Solar New Year.In Punjab, it coincides with Baisakhi, a major harvest festival for the agrarian sectors. Other celebrations include Vishu in Kerala, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and Bihu in Assam. It is a public holiday in several states and is celebrated with prayers, music, food, and traditional festivities of each culture.
Contemporary Relevance of the Festival
Though the festival of Pohela Boishakh may have started with the agrarian community, it has evolved to unite people of all classes and religions. Not only Bengalis, but people from other religions also celebrate this festival with great joy. This day is celebrated to honour past traditions while also working towards a prosperous future. Scroll Down to read more
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