Here you get inside view of Festivals in Kolkata :
Saraswati puja is an eminent festival and is celebrated all around India. Saraswati who is referred to as the “Goddess of knowledge” is valued and revered amongst learned and students. During this puja rituals are very strictly followed in several institutions where special prayers and worship take place.
The festivities that come along with Saraswati puja is one of the flavors of this festival and part of social celebrations. Young girls especially dress up in yellow saris and are seen offering ‘pushpanjali’ (bright flowers) to the Goddess. Cultural programmes are also staged during the day. The Goddess who is believed to be a patron of culture, music and knowledge, is revered by musicians and singers with utmost devotion.
Saraswati is depicted in the form of a graceful and poised woman in adorning white sari. She is a sign of tranquility and purity. She is regarded as the deity who denotes art, knowledge, culture and learning. She is also portrayed as the symbol of peace and is seen generally adorning moon right on the brow. She rides on a white swan or, at times, is also seated on lotus flower. This festival is celebrated every year to pay adherence to Saraswati, who is known as the epitome of learning.
Goddess Saraswati is also referred to as the goddess of water in the Vedas and is venerated for her elevating and purifying powers.
Eid ul Fitr
Eid, which is as quite prevalently referred to as “Eid-ul-Fitr”, is the celebration observed all around the world by the Muslim community. This festival is to celebrate the termination of the holy month of Ramadan.
Eid literally signifies the ‘festival of breaking the fast’. This festival like several other festivals of the Muslims greatly symbolizes ‘faith’. This festival is chiefly celebrated on the basis of Islamic belief and is celebrated after a whole month of fasting.
Eid is celebrated on the very first date of Shawwal, which, as per the Hijra calendar, is the tenth month. During this auspicious festival, Muslims greet each other and their neighbors as a sign of brotherhood and solidarity and exchange gifts too.
As per the Islamic tradition, every year there are two festivals that Muslims celebrate every year- Eid-ul-Fitr, which is celebrated right after the end of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Zuha, which is celebrated in the month of Haj.
The month of fasting, that is Ramadan, symbolizes several beliefs and practices of the Muslim community. During this month of fasting drinking water and having food are restrained. At the same time, one also has to control and refrain from every kind of evil and illicit practices, both from inside and the outside. On the day of Eid, Muslims wear new clothes and also offer ‘namaz’ at the mosques in congregation.
Rakhi, which is also referred to as Raksha Bandhan as per the Hindu calendar in the month of Shravan (August), is celebrated on a full-moon day. On this special day, sisters and brothers reaffirm their warm and loving bond. Even though it is typically a festival that is celebrated by the Hindus, today many people from different faiths also come in and celebrate it.
On this auspicious day, sisters tie a special knot or thread of a colorful special band which is known to be the ‘Rakhi’ on the wrist of their brothers. This is a special mark of warmth, fondness, sublime sentiments and sisterly love. Brothers in return take a special pledge to guard their sisters in good and bad times and also shower them with gifts.
The word ‘Raksha’ signifies protection while the word ‘Bandhan’ signifies binding. As from the Indian mythology there are several reasons why this festival is celebrated. It has been especially been mentioned in the Indian epics and is trailed back during the Indian epic times. As per the Indian tradition every sister prepares a ‘Puja Thali’ for her brother. The thali or the plate comprises of Roli, Diya, Rice and Rakhis for the brothers. She makes a special prayer to God to protect her brother in every phase of life and pays for his overall wellbeing. The brother in return, accepts the unending love of his sister, and takes a pledge to protect her.
Poila Baisakh or better off known as the ‘Bengali New Year’ is celebrated as the first day of a year as per Bengali calendar. This is one auspicious day which links Bengalis from all over, irrespective of regional and religious differences.
Bengalis from all around the globe, bond on this day to celebrate this Universal Festival of Bengalis as it is the time to welcome a fresh New Year. This is the occasion to start a new year with hope of prosperity, unity, tranquility and utmost goodwill. 15th April is regarded as Poila Baisakh day.
During this day festivities and celebrations take place to reflect the life in rural Bengal. On this particular day, everything gets cleaned and washed. Bengalis take bath quite early in the morning and wear fresh clothes, generally traditional Bengali outfit and then visit families and friends.
At different places special all around Bengal Boishakhi Fairs are specially organized. Here the rural Bengal lifestyle is depicted and traditional toys, handicrafts, cosmetics and agricultural products are displayed and sold. These fairs also organize traditional plays (jatra) together with singers and dancers coming up and performing on stage. Narrative plays together with special folk songs such as bhatiali, marfati, baul and murshidi are sung during the day.
Have you ever been wished Shubo Nabo Barsho by any friend who hails from Bengal? If so, then you are actually being wished a happy new year. Nabobarsho is celebrated around mid of April, on 15th April each year, to commemorate the Bengali New Year as well as bring in the beginning of summer months.
Nabobarsho is celebrated with great fanfare by all Bengali households as they draw rangolis in front of the house and decorate with flowers. The rangoli is known as Alpana and is made of coloured rice and in the middle of the rangoli an earthen pot is placed with a Swastika symbol to symbolize a prosperous New Year and to bring in wealth.
Men dress in dhoti kurta and women wear red and white sari and take part in processions early in the morning and this is called as prabhat pheries. They even go to a nearby river and take a holy dip believing that the river washes off all their sins.
Post this early morning ritual Lord Ganesha and Goddess Laxmi idols are worshipped for longevity and well being of the family members. Another ritual comprises praying to the clouds for water. Bengalis businessmen also pay-off all their loans and settle previous dues with customers. New account books are also purchased by Bengali businessmen and new accounts called Haalkhata are also prepared.
Rathayatra is a Hindu festival celebrated mainly in Puri in the state of Odisha. It is also referred to as Chariot festival or Shri Gundicha yatra which involves transporting deities of Lord Jagannath on a chariot.
Rathayatra literally means journey on a chariot and refers to the moving of three deities, namely, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra from their temple to and to their aunt’s home. On the first day the deities undertake a prolonged bath on an open platform and retire for a period of 15 days which is known as Anabsara and are kept in isolation for that period. Public is not allowed to worship the deities during that time. Ending the 15 days of isolation the deities come out of the temple in a colourful procession aboard their respective chariots and their journey or Rathayatra begins.
This colourful journey attracts thousands of devotees as well as visitors from all parts of the country and the world as well. The chariots are approximately 45 feet high and weigh a lot and take 2 months to construct. Painters and artists decorate cars and paint with flower petals and designs of horses and charioteer, and lotuses painted inverted behind the throne.
Diwali is a festive occasion celebrated all over India with much aplomb and is a festival of lights, celebrating the triumph of good over the evil. An auspicious puja performed during the third day of diwali is the laxmi puja. This puja is to worship the Goddess Laxmi, Lord Vishnu’s wife and the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Laxmi puja is more prevalent in North and West India.
On the day of Laxmi puja the goddess is invited into the homes of the devotees with much pomp and ceremony such as preparing and offering sweet treats, cleaning houses free of dust and negativity and decorating it with finery and lots of lights in the form lamps and diyas. It is believed that the happier the goddess with her visit the more she blesses the house and its devotees with wealth and health. Goddess Laxmi likes cleanliness and a broom is worshipped on the day of Laxmi puja with turmeric and vermilion.
It is believed that Laxmi is connected to Lakshya or goal. And the goddess provides shakti or strength to direct us towards our goals and bestows upon us with blessings to progress in life and abundance of knowledge, talent and skills.
India is a country of diverse cultures and festivals, and one such festival dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Kali is Kali Puja. The festival is celebrated on the new moon day of the Hindu calendar month of Karthik, especially in Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Assam. The puja signifies the diminishing of negativities which hinder progress in spiritual and material aspects and to seek happiness, health, wealth and peace. Destruction of the evil and victory of the Good is the major meaning of this festival.
At the puja, clay sculptures of the Goddess Kali are worshipped with offerings of red hibiscus flowers, sweets, rice, lentils, and sweets. The goddess Kali is depicted with one foot on the chest of Lord Shiva wearing a garland of decapitated heads of demons.
The mythological story tells that there were two demons, Shambhu and Nishambhu, who were destroying the peace for Lord Indra and Gods had to seek the help of Goddess Durga to regain peace in their abode. To restore peace Goddess Kali was born out of Goddess Durga’s forehead and she killed the demons and wore a garland of their slain heads but in her rage she lost control and started killing anyone who came in her way. When Lord Shiva came to stop her she unknowingly stepped on him but recovered immediately and pulled out her tongue in regret for her actions.
Bhai Phota – the festival of brothers and sisters
Bhait phota is a festival celebrated all throughout the Bengal after Diwali or Kali Puja. Interestingly, this festival is not only limited to the Bengalis but this is also celebrated in many parts of India and is known in three different names such as Bhai Dooj, Bhai Tika and Bhau-Beej.
In this ritual, sisters mark the forehead of their brothers with snadalwood paste. They pray for longer lives, safety and prosperity of their brothers.
It is a social practice that involves myths as its origin. As per the Rig Veda, God Surya has twins, Yama and Yamuna. When they took their earthly incarnations, Yama visited the house of Yamuna, who longed to see him. And when Yama, visited Yamuna’s house, she prayed for the well being and success of her brother. There are other legends too that relate to the origin of this practice, and those legends involved the stories of Krishna, Mahavira, Vishnu.
The origin of Bhai Phota is regarded as an outcome of different changes in the society and agricultural advent as per Shailendra Haldar, a social historian and a folklorist.
Whatever be the origin, this practice focuses on the betterment of relation between sisters and brothers.
Durga Puja – the festival of all
Durga Puja is one of the major festivals of the Hindus, celebrated throughout the Bengal, and other parts of India. This festival of worshipping the Mother Goddess, Maa Durga, is also celebrated in different parts of the world by the Bengalis settled out there. It is not only limited to any particular race or society, but it is a festival of all.
The five-day festival is noted for its pomp and grandeur
During this festival Kolkata and its adjourning areas are heavily decorated. It offers a spectacular vision to explore the liveliness of Kolkata in its pomp and grandeur. Owing to the heavy competition among the organizers of this festival, visitors of Kolkata can treat their eyes with awe-inspiring, heavenly beautiful idols and the decorations of the pandals or manadabas and the streets.
Durga Puja celebrates the victory of good over evil
This festival highlights the victory of good over evil, the triumph of the God over devil. It epitomizes the concept that evil cannot sustain for long and the Good always gets victory over the evil.
Durga Puja has great social impact
Durga Puja has its own way of evolution. From an age-old traditional festival it has now emerged as a festival to bond, create harmony and purify self. Minds meet with minds and people find a new and friendly way to harmonize with each other.
Dol Purnima – The festival of color
Dol Purnima is the festival of color. It is a festival that celebrates the advent of the colorful spring. It has crossed its boundary of being a religious festival but it is now an occasion that offers the scope to create harmony and bondage in the society.
Religious essence of Dol Purnima
Dol Purnima has deep religious essence attached with it. This is a festival that is dedicated to Lord Krishna. Bhaisnavas worshipped the images or idols of Radha Krishna with colored powders and new clothes, fruits, flowers and utmost devotion. For the Bengalis this is the festival that celebrates the birth of Sri Chaitanya.
Dol Purnima – Holi
The next day of Dol Purnima is Holi. It is also celebrated with joy and enthusiasm and all over the India. This festival is also to highlight the victory of the Good over the Evil. Holi has different legendary tales associated with it.
Dol Purnima and Holi have great social, religious, mythological, and biological significances. Visiting Kolkata and other parts of India during this time of Dol Purnima and Holi will give you the chance to explore the mood and spirit of celebrating festivities of the people out there.