(IBNS): The social networking sites are already abuzz with greetings while the inbox of mobile phones have nearly choked with good wishes as Bengalis across the globe gear up to celebrate Bengali New Year or ‘Poila Boisakh’ on Saturday.
The day holds special significance in the hearts of innumerable Bengalis who relish the customs and traditions of their culture on this date.
This time it is even United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who has wished the Bengali community across the world on the eve of Poila Baishak.
Kolkata, where thunder storms disrupted the normal flow of the city for the past couple of days, witnessed the markets buzzing with buyers on Friday afternoon as they engaged themselves in making last rounds of shopping.
From Hatibagan in north to Gariahat in south the picture remained unaltered in every busy marketing hub of the city.
Buyers were seen bargaining hard to squeeze the last drop of discount on the penultimate day of ‘Chaitra Sale’.
‘Chaitra Sale’ is a traditional Bengali custom when Bengali businessmen try to clear old stocks of products at exceptional discounts to the buyers in the last month of Bengali calendar -Chaitra.
‘Poila Baisakh’ is considered to be an auspicious day for business and new endeavors.
Bengali Hindu traders purchase new accounting book before the Poila baisakh.
The accounting in the “halkhata” begins only after offering a special puja at the dawn of the first day of the Bengali New Year.
Devotees assemble at Kolkata’s Kalighat temple to seek the blessings of Hindu deity Kali and thus herald the first transaction of the year.
They also worship Hindu deities- Laxmi and Ganesh- on this auspicious day.
Food plays a pivotal role in any celebration and Poila Boisakh has no exceptions.
Keeping parallel to gourmet spirit of Bengalis, they prepare traditional foods like Polao, Mangsho (meat), Macher Kalia (fish) and payesh (sweet dish) on the occasion.
“I love cooking foods. I still remember that my mother used to cook innumerable Bengali cuisines on this day and we were busy cleaning our room right from the morning. Now I have grown older, I prepare some payesh (popular dessert of Bengal made of milk and rice) for my grandson on Poila Boisakh,” said 80-year-old Dipali Sen of Kolkata.
Some like fish and prawns on this day.
Bengalis are mostly sold on traditional cuisine on this day.
Several restaurants in Kolkata have announced food festivals where they will be serving traditional Bengali cuisines to the visitors.
Bengalis are known for their love for sweet dishes and one can find a long rush in front of the sweet shops on Poila Boisakh.
Even the day holds special significance as far as fashion is concerned.
While the Bengali men and women prefer to wear jeans and t-shirts on every other day of the year, they love to explore themselves in ethnic wears ranging from Punjabis to saris on special occasions like Poila Boisakh.
“Being a Bengali woman I would prefer a sari over any other dresses on Poila Baisakh. I believe a Bengali lady can never look prettier in any other outfit,“ said Sarbari Sen, a instructional designer from Kolkata.
“I have to wear western outfits for the entire year but it is only on special occasions like this one that I get an opportunity to reinvent myself in a sari. How can I miss it?” one Oindrilla Chatterjee said.
“I love wearing Panjabi and on traditional days there is no other option but rediscovering myself in ethnic wears,” said Arjun Sen, an IT professional from Bhubaneswar.
The Hindu calendar is always buzzing with several religious festivals and occasions.
Right after Poila Boisakh, Hindu’s will celebrate ‘Akshaya Tritiya’ that falls on the third Tithi (Lunar day).
This year Akshaya Tritiya will be celebrated on April 24. It is also celebrated by Jains.
As per Hindus, this day is ruled by god Vishnu, the preserver-god in the Hindu Trinity. It is also traditionally celebrated as the birthday of the Hindu sage Parashurama, the sixth Avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu.
According to Hindu mythology, on this day the Treta Yuga began and the river Ganges, the most sacred river of India, descended to the earth from the heaven.
The word “Akshaya” means the never diminishing in Sanskrit and the day is believed to bring good luck and success.
It is believed that if one does charity on this day he will be blessed.
The day is considered auspicious for starting new ventures. The legend is that any venture initiated on the auspicious day of ‘Akshaya Tritiya’ continues to grow and bring prosperity.
Keeping the occasion in mind, various companies have introduced special packages on different items for the buyers.
Gitanjali Group announced the “Swarna Mudrika” offer by which one can get the opportunity to receive silver coins absolutely free on purchase of gold coins (999 purity) in varied denominations.
Jewellery brand Tanishq introduced special offer by which one can get a free gold coin with every jewellery purchase.
The company is also offering flat 10 percent off on the purchase of diamond jewelry worth Rs 2 lakhs and above.
Watch maker Titan is offering its customers a free gold coin with the purchase of Nebula – 18KT solid gold watches.
Titan is 22kt giving a 2 grams gold coin on purchase of a Nebula watch priced below Rs. 60,000 and a 4gm gold coin on purchases above Rs. 60,000.
The Bengali festival calendar will start from Poila Boisakh and will continue for the entire year as the community will celebrate events in their own traditional fashions.