West Bengal, an incredible land of India, is famous for its festival, culture, attire, and lifestyle. This beautiful state has gained more fame and popularity in print and cinematic media. Apart from this, the festivals are another highlight of this state and make it a worth visit. West Bengal celebrates a plethora of festivals in a single year. There is a saying in Bengali that ‘baaro mash e tero parbon’ – thirteen festivals in twelve months, which is probably the most appropriate description of festivals of West Bengal. So, through this blog, let’s gain a better understanding and knowledge about the festivals of West Bengal. Moreover, to help you know better, here is a list of the most popular festivals of West Bengal.
One of the unique celebrations held in West Bengal is Saraswati Puja. The people of West Bengal celebrate this festival as the homecoming of the Goddess of learning, Goddess Saraswati. This festival usually falls on the fifth day of the Hindu month Magha, and the people also know this as Vasant Panchami. This occasion has a special significance for Bengalis. They consider this day as an auspicious occasion to start all the study related things for their children. Moreover, small girls wear colorful sarees and go out on the streets to take darshan of nicely decorated Saraswati puja pandals.
Pohela Boishakh is the traditional Bengali New Year day that is celebrated on the 14th of April every year in West Bengal. The people of West Bengal celebrate this festival with processions, fairs, and traditional Bong food. They start the new year by wearing new clothes and preparing extensive dishes at home. They also visit the temples for seeking blessings for the rest of the year. Apart from this, Bengalis also gather to offer prayers to the rising sun. On this special day, the traders also start their new accounting books, and the Bengalis call this ceremony Hal Khata.
Charak Puja is a unique folk festival of West Bengal that the tribal people celebrate in the month of April. During this festival, people dress up like Shiva, Parvati, Krishna, and other Hindu deities. In this festival, the devotees worship the Charak tree and perform several penance activities. They hurt themselves with several devious weapons with a belief that the blessing of God keeps them safe from the pain they inflict on themselves to display their devotion.
Jamai Shoshti is one of the unique festivals of West Bengal that personifies the beautiful relation of mother in law and her son in law. The term Jamai refers to the son in law, and shoshti means the sixth day. That’s why it is celebrated on the sixth day of Shukla paksha in Jyestha month (May or June). This day the son-in-law visits his in-laws’ home, and they welcome him with a grand celebration. On this special day, a phota (teeka) of curd is applied on the son in law’s forehead, and a yellow thread, called Shasti Suto is tied around his wrist. On this occasion, the mother in law prepares extensive mouth-watering and delectable traditional Bengali dishes for her son in law. The in-laws also bless their son in law with a long and prosperous life ahead.
Rath Jatra is the most popular annual chariot festival of Lord Jagannath that usually falls in June or July. Like Odisha, West Bengal also celebrates the auspicious Rath Jatra with great reverence and joy. This cult Hindu festival is followed in West Bengal since 1936. In West Bengal, Rath Jatra is held at Kolkata, Mayapur in Nadia, Mahesh in Hooghly, and Mahisadal in East Midnapore districts. The chariot festival of Mahesh is the second oldest, next only to the Rath Jatra of Puri, Odisha.
On the day of Rath Jatra, the idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra make a journey to their aunt’s house (Kunja Baati) on the 50 feet high chariot that weighs about 125 tonnes. They reside there for the next seven days, and on the eighth day, they return to the temple. Above all, every year millions of people congregate from different parts of the country to enjoy Rath Jatra in West Bengal.
One of the biggest Hindu festivals for the people of West Bengal is Durga Puja. Kolkata is famous worldwide to celebrate Durga Puja hugely. West Bengal celebrates this auspicious festival in the month of Ashwin or Kartik (September and October) with great joy and enthusiasm. During Puja, the dazzling street lights, gigantic gates, and decorations of the puja mandap illuminate the whole city. The people of West Bengal celebrate this festival of victory of good over evil with great reverence and joy. During Durga Puja, people from all over India and the world visit Kolkata to enjoy this festival. This festival lasts for five days, and the chants of Mantras at the Puja Mandap, the morning and evening Aarti, make the environment very sacred and enchanting.
Feasts, rejoicing, dance, drama, and music are the main attraction of this festival. Durga Puja has special significance for every Bengali. On this day, they wear new clothes and visit puja pandals of different communities and worship the Goddess Durga. Along with the idol of Goddess Durga, the puja pandals are beautifully ornated and decorated with the idols of Goddess Saraswati, Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha, and Kartikeya. If you are in Kolkata during Durga Puja, then you shouldn’t miss this festival at any cost.
One of the grandest celebrations of the homecoming for the Goddess Laxmi is Laxmi Puja. Goddess Laxmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Lakshmi Puja is another very significant Hindu festival that the Bengalis celebrate with great enthusiasm and passion. This auspicious day falls on the full moon day in the lunar month of Ashwin. Laxmi Puja on Purnima Tithi in the month of Ashwin is known as Kojagari Puja, and it is also known as Bengal Laxmi Puja.
Kali Puja is another significant festival of West Bengal that holds in October or November. Apart from Durga Puja, it is perhaps the other largest festival in Kolkata. During this festival, mantras are chanted in the nighttime that goes up till dawn. Moreover, in this festival, Goddess Kali is ornated with the beautiful garlands of hibiscuses, and sweets, rice, and lentils are offered to the deity.
Bhai Phota is an important festival of West Bengal that falls in the month of November. This festival celebrates the love and affection between the brother and the sister. It is similar to the Hindu festival Raksha Bandhan. We can also say that Bhai Phota is the Bengali version of Raksha Bandhan. In this festival, the sister puts kumkum tika on the forehead of the brother while muttering incantations. Then she also feeds him some sweets. Moreover, the sister prays for the long life and prosperity of her brother.
People in West Bengal celebrate Makar Sankranti as Poush Sankranti with a unique style. Poush Sankranti falls in the Hindu month of Poush. In this festival, Bengalis prepare a variety of traditional Bengali sweets with rice flour, coconut, milk, and khejur gur, known as pitha. On the day of Sankranti, people usually worship Goddess Laxmi. In the Himalayan region of Darjeeling, this festival is known as Magey Sankranti. During this festival, a large number of people congregate at Gangasagar to take a holy dip at the confluence and purge themselves of sins.
These are some of the important and famous festivals that the people of West Bengal celebrate with great pomp and ecstasy. West Bengal also boasts ancient history and rich culture through its festivals. Learning about these festivals helps in realizing their significance in a Bengali household. Apart from the above list, West Bengal also celebrates Holi, Diwali, Christmas, Eid, Muharram, and other popular festivals in India. So, if you want to enjoy the culture and tradition of West Bengal, make sure to visit during one of these festivals.
I hope this blog will help you to know about some of the famous and important festivals of West Bengal. If you find this blog interesting and helpful, then don’t forget to share your experience by commenting below.
Also read: 27 Most Famous Festivals of Odisha