14 April: Pohela Boishakh and its Significance

OV Digital Desk

Pohela Boishakh, also known as “Noboborsho,” is the traditional Bengali New Year celebrated in Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, as well as among Bengali communities around the world. It falls on 14 April or 15 April each year, marking the beginning of the Bengali calendar year.

Pohela Boishakh is a festive and colorful occasion, celebrated with much enthusiasm and joy. It is a time when people come together to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new year with new hopes, aspirations, and festivities. The celebration of Pohela Boishakh is deeply rooted in Bengali culture, and it is considered a significant cultural and social event in Bangladesh and West Bengal.

History of Pohela Boishakh

The history of Pohela Boishakh can be traced back to ancient Bengal, where it originated as a traditional harvest festival marking the beginning of the new agricultural year. The celebration of the Bengali New Year has its roots in the Hindu solar calendar, which was later influenced by the Mughal calendar during the Mughal rule in Bengal.

The festival of Pohela Boishakh has been celebrated for centuries in the region, but it gained prominence as a cultural event during the Bengali Renaissance in the 19th century. During this period, there was a renewed interest in Bengali language, literature, and culture, and Pohela Boishakh became an occasion to showcase and celebrate Bengali identity and heritage.

Pohela Boishakh as a modern cultural festival gained popularity in the 20th century, particularly in the early 20th century, when prominent Bengali intellectuals, artists, and poets started organizing cultural programs and events to mark the occasion. The festival became more inclusive, encompassing people from all walks of life, irrespective of religion, caste, or creed, and it became a symbol of Bengali cultural unity and pride.

In 1965, the students of Dhaka University in Bangladesh played a pivotal role in reviving and popularizing the celebration of Pohela Boishakh as a cultural event. They organized a cultural procession called “Mangal Shobhajatra,” which featured colorful masks, banners, and other festive items, and it became a defining feature of Pohela Boishakh celebrations in Bangladesh. Over the years, Pohela Boishakh has become a significant cultural event in Bangladesh, celebrated by people of all religions and ethnicities as a symbol of national unity and cultural identity.

Today, Pohela Boishakh is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm in Bangladesh and West Bengal, and it has become an important part of the cultural fabric of the Bengali community. It is a time for people to come together, celebrate their culture, indulge in traditional festivities, and express their joy and optimism for the coming year. The history of Pohela Boishakh reflects the rich cultural heritage of Bengal and the enduring spirit of Bengali culture and identity.

Celebration and Significance

The celebrations of Pohela Boishakh typically include various cultural programs, musical performances, traditional dances, and processions known as “Mangal Shobhajatra,” which is a colorful and lively parade with people dressed in traditional Bengali attire, carrying colorful masks, banners, and other festive items. The day is also marked with traditional food, especially sweets like “Panta Bhat” (fermented rice) and “Hilsa” (a type of fish), which are considered auspicious for the occasion.

Pohela Boishakh is not only a celebration of the New Year but also a celebration of Bengali culture, heritage, and identity. It is a time when people come together to embrace their cultural roots, showcase traditional arts and crafts, and partake in various cultural activities that highlight the richness of Bengali culture.

In recent years, Pohela Boishakh has also become a platform for social and cultural movements, with people using the occasion to express their social and political messages through various creative forms, such as street plays, art exhibitions, and cultural performances.

Overall, Pohela Boishakh is a significant cultural event in Bangladesh and West Bengal, symbolizing the spirit of unity, joy, and cultural pride among the Bengali community, and it continues to be celebrated with great fervor and enthusiasm each year.