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Culture of West Bengal

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The state of West Bengal on the eastern fringes of India has been blessed with a very rich cultural heritage. This place is home to some of the richest cultures of entire India and contains a blend of modernity with tradition. Since history Bengal had been ruled by various rulers who carried with them their legacies and culture. Starting from the Hindu Rajas to the Muslim influence along with the foreign colonizations, Bengal had been exposed to variety of cultural authority. This is reflected in the art, culture, food, music, dance, architecture, attire, religion and festivals of the state.

Traditional Attire of West Bengal

Culture of BengalThe rich tradition of West Bengal is reflected in the attire of the locals. During old times, men in Bengal used to wear free flowing cotton Panjabi generally of white colour along with white Dhuti, with a special Bengali knot in front known as “Geele”. Women were allowed to wear only saris during those times. These saris were in general of cotton material and were worn in a special Bengali fashion with a front Aanchal. Time has changed and modern men and women have moved on to western dresses which include shirt and trouser for men and salwar kameez, jeans, tops, skirts and many more for women. West Bengal has become more and more cosmopolitan with time, but the traditional dresses are still preferred by residents during any family occasion or any festival. Murshidabad, Nadia, Malda, Bankura, Hoogly and Birbhum are some of the districts which are famous for their exquisite fabrics woven by traditional Tantis or weavers. The saris and dress materials woven here of silk and cotton are of world wide reputation.

Some of the traditional ornaments of the region are ‘Kaan’ a form of earring made of thin sheets of gold or silver which covers the entire ear, ‘Choker of Chik’ a fitted jewellery band of gold carvings worn around the neck, ‘Tikli’ an ornament for the forehead which is generally worn during one’s marriage, ‘Ratanchur’ a bangle attached to five strings which go along five fingers and are attached to 5 rings generally made of gold or diamond and ‘Sapta Lahiri’ a necklace made of five strands of precious metals along with beads. Silver Filigree work of Maukhali region of Bengal, Mantasha made of precious stones and Kundan set jeweleries are also popular among the ladies of West Bengal. Hansuli, Baju, Tabiz and Tagaa are some of the traditional ornaments generally worn by the village ladies of both Hindu and Muslim origin.

Literary Culture of West Bengal

Quick Facts:
The origin of Bengali literature dates back to the 10th and the 11th century when ‘Charyapada’ a compilation of Buddhist mystical songs written in the ancient Bengali language. Since then the literary works of Bengal continues in various forms.
Literature of Bengal can be divided into two periods the Medieval period (1360-1800 AD) and Modern period (after 1800 AD). During the medieval period, Bengali literature was mostly based on the life time of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as Bengal was under the influence of ‘Gauriya Vaishnavism’. The literature period can be timelined into three stages, Early Chaitanya Era, Chaitnya Era, and Later Middle Age. The early Chaitanya era is the time before Mahaprabhu, when the lyrical poems related to Sri Krishna was the flavour of that era. The ‘Vaishnava Padavali’ written by Vidyapati and Chandidas, the translation of Bhagavata Purana in Bengali named ‘Sri Krishna Vijaya’ by Maladhar Basu, Sri Krishna Kritana by Boru Chandidas and Krittivasi Ramayana by Krittivas Ojha are some of the most renowned books of Indian history. The ‘Mangal-Kavya’ (Poems of Benediction), is a book which depicted the socio economic condition of Bengal region during that phase in the form of Hindu narrative poetry. These Kavyas were divided into three parts namely, Manasa Mangal, Chandi Mangal and Dharma Mangal. Mukundaram Chakrabarty, Bijay Gupta, Rupram Chakrabarty were some of the renowned poets of the medieval times.

Then came the time of the modern literature which started post 19th century, when Bengal got some ofLiterary Culture of West Bengal its best writers and poets. In 1814 Raja Ram Mohan Roy was one of the pioneers in promotion of Bengali literature. He translated many ancient scripts from Sanskrit to Bengali. He started a Bengali cultural group named 'Atmiya Sabha' in 1815 who were involved in various cultural and societal activities. Another renowned literary was Dinabandhu Mitra who wrote the famous ‘Nil Darpan’, a drama based on the Indigo Revolution in 1859 and 1860. Another legendary write and reformer of Bengal was Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar who paved the way for Bengal Renaissance. He started the widow marriage system and wrote many eminent books like ‘Borno Porichoy’, ‘Betaal Panchabinsati’, ‘Bidhaba Bibaha Bishayak Prostab’, ‘Kotha Mala’, ‘Bodhadoy’ and many more.

Michael Madhusudan Dutt was one of the greatest Bengali writers of all times. He introduced the ‘Amitrakshar Chhanda’ or blank verse by which he created many legendary sonnets of his times. Some of the epic novels written by him are, ‘Tilottama Sambhab Kabya’, based on Hindu Puranas, ‘Meghnad Badh Kabya’ based on the valour son of Ravana in Ramayana, ‘Brajangana Kavya’- a story about the valiant ladies of the Braj dynasty, Chaturdashpadi Kabitabali a collection of 102 sonnets. He wrote some important socio-economic plays namely, ‘Sharmishtha’ in 1859, ‘Padmavati’ in 1860, ‘Krishnakumari’ in 1861 and ‘Maya-Kanan’ (The Magical Forest) in 1874 and two slapstick dramas ‘Ekei Ki Bole Sabhyata’ (Is That What You Call Good Manners) in 1860 and ‘Buro Shalikher Ghare Ro’ (Old Man Rejuvenated) in 1860.

Did You Know?
Michael Madhushudan Dutt was a polyglot and knew ten languages! He composed poems in English, Italian and French. In the Ramayana, Ravana is the villain. Madhushudan's opus raises Meghnad (Ravana's son) to a hero in the proportion of Hector in the "Iliad". "Meghnad Bodh" was published in 1861.


literary culture of West Bengal



Another distinguished author of the 19th century was Bankim
Chandra Chattopadhyay
, whose novels are still considered as the benchmarks of Indian literature. ‘Durgeshnandini’ in 1865, ‘Anandamath’ in 1882, ‘Kapalkundala’, ‘Krishnakanter Will’, ‘Bishabriksha’, ‘Devi Chaudhurani’ and ‘Rajsingha’ were the prominent novels of his. Many films both in Bengali and Hindi had been scripted based on these novels of Bankim Chandra. He wrote a satire named ‘Kamalakanter Daptar’ in 1875. The Indian national song “Vande Mataram” was one of his creations.

The most distinct writer of Bengali literature till today is Rabindranath Tagore, who is considered as the Bengali polymath who had reshaped the culture of Bengal. He was the first non European and the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 for his versatile literary work of 157 poems in the book ‘Gitanjali’. This book was so famous that Macmillan & Co. translated and published 103 of these Bengali poems in English. His works include the entire range of literature which starts from novels to long stories, short stories, poetry, paintings, music, theatre scripts and many more. He was simultaneously a poet, short story writer, song composer, playwright, novelist, essayist and painter. The national anthem of both India ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and Bangladesh ‘Amar Shonar Bangla’ are his composition. Affectionately called as ‘Kabiguru' or 'Gurudeb’, Tagore is considered as the father of Bengali literature. He was the pioneer of Rabindra Sangeet and modern Bengali drama.

Literature of West Bengal
Gurudeb Rabindranath Tagore with Sir Albert Einstein, Source: OldIndianPhotos

West Bengal had seen many other prominent literary personnel who had shaped the culture of the state in many good ways. Some of these well known writers were, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, Manik Bandopadhyay, Ritwik Ghatak Jibanananda Das, Sukanta Bhattacharya, Bishnu Dey, Premendra Mitra, Buddhadeb Guha and Satyajit Ray. With the passage of time this state has seen many new writers and poets who have brought a revolution in the literature world of the state. The writing pattern has also changed in the 21st century and of recent times Bengali literature has become more influenced by colloquial dialects. Sunil Gangopadhyay, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, Mahasweta Devi, Leela Majumdar, Samaresh Majumdar, Shankha Ghosh, Amitav Ghosh, Nirad Chaudhuri, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Joy Goswami, Mani Shankar Mukherjee are some of the noted writers of the present century.

Traditional Music of West Bengal

The Bengali culture is incomplete without the different genre of music present over here. The origin of music had been pretty early in this region and due to various influences West Bengal is a repository of different styles of music. Rabindra Sangeet a form of music based on the songs written by the great poet Rabindranath Tagore, is the most renowned form of Bengali music. Tagore wrote songs on various seasons, puja, love and many more which are segregated into different ‘Parjays’. These songs have created a new genus of educated and cultured audience.

Here's a perfect example of Rabindra Sangeet:



There is the Bishnupur Gharana based on the ancient Hindustani classical music. This music form was originated by the court musicians of Malla kingdom which existed in the Bishnupur and Bankura district. Ramesh Bandhopadhyay, Gyanchandra Prasad Goswami and Amiya Bandhopadhyay are few of the prominent musicians of this gharana. Folk or country music in the form of Baul, Sari and Bhatiali songs are also age old. These songs were primarily composed and sung by the wandering tribes, boatmen and fishermen who composed songs of spiritualism and eternal philosophy. But the folk genre has become so popular that many current songs are based on folk music.

‘Shyama Sangeet’ is a genre of devotional music dedicated to Devi Kali or Shyama, who is another form of Goddess Durga. ‘Kirtan’ is another style of devotional Bengali music written on the early life of Lord Krishna. These are written by Vaishnavi poets and are a part of Dhrupad music. Tanpura and Khol are some of the main instruments required to sing Kirtan.

Many eminent musicians have come to Bengal enriching the Bengali culture with their form of music. These genres have been named after the musicians. These are like, ‘Nazrul Geeti’ which are songs written by the eminent poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, ‘Dwijendrageeti’ which are based on songs written by Dwijendralal Ray, ‘Probhat Shongit’ composed by Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, who used a combination of 8 different languages in his songs and ‘Atulprasadi’ which are the compositions of Atul Prasad Sen. The Atulprasadi songs are typically patriotic ones and are sung in the ‘Thumri’ style.

Finally came the era of the ‘Adhunik’ genre or the modern songs. These songs are still in vogue and there are many sub genres of this form. One of the sub genre is the ‘Jeevanmukhi gaan’ which are based on topics like the life of a common man, the daily struggle he faces, the relationships he or she shares etc. Dr. Bhupen Hazarika pioneered this type of music followed by singers like Suman, Nachiketa, Anjan Dutt, Shilajit Majumdar and many more. Another sub genre is the Bengali Rock music. During 1990s West Bengal started getting influenced by the rock music and fusion of the Western culture. Currently a lot of ‘Bangla Bands’ are present in the state who create music on variety of international genres like, Pop, Rock, Hard Rock, Grunge and Heavy Metal. Folk music has also got its influence on the Bengali band culture. Moheener Ghoraguli, Chandrabindoo, Cactus, Fossils, Bhoomi, Calcutta Blues, Band A5 etc. are some of the popular bands of West Bengal.

Try out some amazing modern Bangla numbers, here's one amazing composition:




Traditional Dance Forms of West Bengal

Since the historic times, the Bengal region had seen many regal influences which have in turn influenced the Bengali culture. Dance was a popular art form during those times when ladies and gents were trained in various 'Natysastra'. Dance in Bengal have grown over time and two specific categories can be observed, the traditional form and the modern form. The traditional forms include variety of classical, modern and ancient tribal dance types.

A form of Bengali classical dance form is the ‘Gaudiya Nritya’. This form originated during the rule of the Palas over Bengal in the 12th century A.D, when Gaur was the capital of the region. This historic dance form had eventually given rise to various present day dance forms like, Odissi, Manipuri and Kuchipudi. On a visit to the temples of West Bengal, one can view sculptures of this classical dance on the walls. Students interested in this can take up vocational courses taught in the Rabindra Bharati University.

The ‘Raibense Dance’ is an ancient dance form of the Burdwan and Birbhum district, which are based on martial art techniques. This is a dynamic form of art where dancers have to hop, jump in circles while carrying Shield, Spear and Trishul in their hand. ‘Chhau Dance’ is a form of tribal martial dance which is immensely popular in Purulia and Jhargram of West Midnapore District of West Bengal.     The specialty of this dance is the costume which is of a grand stature and is made by the villagers of the Charida village of Purulia. Based on this dance form a festival occurs during March or April, known as the Sun Festival, where tourists come from various parts of the World. Generally stories of Gods and Demons from Ramayana and Mahabharata are performed in a Chhau.

Chhau dance performance by the students of Gurukul Chhau Dance Sangam:



Modern dance form originated with the start of ‘Rabindra Nritya’ where performances are done on Rabindra Sangeet written by Tagore. With the beginning of the 19th century, this dance form began in Bengal where a mix of classical and folk dance techniques is used. This new concept fusion dancing style has made West Bengal prominent in the global arena of art and culture. Shantiniketan in West Bengal is the place, where till today enthusiasts can take up courses on dance, music, drama and many more art forms. Many tutorials are present across the state where one can learn Rabindra Nritya.

West Bengal also has various forms of tribal dance varieties which are unique in their own ways. ‘Jhumur Dance’ of Purulia and its surrounding region is a specialized type of folk tribal dance, where girls hold each other by their waist and dance in one line. Boys play instruments like Dhol and Madol along with it. The ‘Santhali Tribal Dance’ of Bankura and Birbhum districts is a local tribal dance of the Santhals. The costumes wore during performances by both male and female are of vibrant colours. Men wear Dhoti with Turban and paint their body with different motifs. Female dancers use natural makeup with flowers and leaves. This dance is performed to show the unity inside the clan.

The northern part of the state which consists of the hilly terrain is popular for ‘Nepali Folk Dance’. This dance is a combination of singing and dancing, with the main theme generally being folklores of various Hindu and Buddhist Gods and Goddesses. There are various forms of the Nepali folk dance among which Maruni Nach, Dhan Naach, Jhankri Naach, Jatra Naach, Damphu Naach, Paschimay Chutki, Rodhighar Naach and Jhumara Naach are some worth mentioning.

Cinema and Theatre of West Bengal

When we talk about cinema and theatre so many eminent Bengali names come to our mind. Bengali theatres also known as ‘Jatra’ are an age old mode of entertainment. Early 19th century saw the advent of theatres in Bengal pioneered by Girish Chandra Ghosh, an eminent theatre personality. Sisir Bhaduri, Dinabandhu Mitra, Dwijendralal Ray, Rabindranath Tagore, Ajitesh Bandopadhyay are some of the notable playwrights of Bengal. Rabindra Sadan, Sisir Mancha and Girish Mancha are still considered as the hub of Bengal intellectual culture.

Cinema culture of West Bengal
A screen grab from "Raja Harishchandra" Source: Cinetext.Wordpress


Bengali cinemas date back to 1890, when movie making was a real challenge. The concept of ‘Bioscope’ started in Calcutta with the formation of Royal Bioscope Company by eminent theatre personality, Hiralal Sen. Between 1919 to 1930 was the era for silent films. ‘Raja Harish Chandra’ was the first full-length Indian feature film. Pramathesh Barua and Debaki Bose were one of the earliest actors of Bengal who reached the pinnacle of popularity during those times. Post 1930 came the time of the Talkies with ‘Jamai Shashthi’ being the first talkie in 1931.

Did You Know?
  • ‘Dena Pawna’ was the first feature film which got appreciation from all movie fraternities.
  • Wilford E. Deming an American Cinematographer who came to Kolkata to make the first sound film (Talkie) coined the name ‘Tollywood’. The Bombay film industry got inspired by the name and renamed them as “Bollywood”.









Post 1952 started the golden era of Bengali cinemas. This was the time when Bengal gave the best of the ‘Art Films’ or parallel cinemas of Indian cinema world. Bengal reached its epitome of glory with the renowned film makers like Bimal Roy, Ritwik Ghatak, Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen. Some of the classics of the period were Nagarik(1952), The Apu Trilogy (1955–1959), Jalsaghar (1958), Ajantrik (1958), Neel Akasher Neechey (1959), Devdas, Devi (1960), Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960) and The Calcutta Trilogies (1971–1976). These classics got the global recognition in the form of international prizes. Bengal saw movies based on the then society, poverty and economic condition of common man. Satyajit Ray was the first film maker of India who dealt with delicate film topics like science fiction, romance, divorce, marital issues and many more. He is the only Indian to get an Oscar for his outstanding contribution towards Indian Cinema.

cinema culture of West Bengal
Legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray during a shoot, source: Imgkid

Bengali film industry has grown over the years and big budget movies are now being made. Many foreign locations and advanced cinematography techniques are used in present day cinemas. Kolkata Film Festival (KFF) is the second oldest international film festival of India, hosted at Kolkata.

Fine Arts and Handicrafts of West Bengal

Art and craft are an integral part of Bengali culture. This state is a haven of many traditional artworks and artists who are of world renowned stature. The ancient masters of Indian art were mostly from this region, who had gifted the state with amazing artifacts. The Academy of Fine Arts is the finest art society and the oldest one present in India. It has eight separate galleries where artists from all parts of the world can exhibit their beautiful artworks for the public. The academy has a gallery dedicated to the old textiles of the bygone era.

art culture of West Bengal
Inside The Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, source: Wikimedia

There is a dedicated gallery for miniature paintings which contains a series of 18 paintings of Ram and Sita drown by the great painter of his time Prof. Phani Bhusan Adhikari, the Raag-Mala series of 33 paintings and many textile paintings. The carpet gallery displays old carpets of the Muslim and Persian artwork along with British artistry. The gallery of engraving is one of its kinds in the entire India with beautiful artworks by famous artists of the 18th and 19th century. The Academy also hosts a studio-cum-skeching-club for the budding artists, where regular workshops take place.

When it comes to handicrafts West Bengal is blessed with master artists from various districts, small villages and Kolkata. The handicrafts here depict the richness of fine art present in the region which varies from terracotta, Dokra work, wood and cane carvings, Shola arts to beautiful pottery making and handloom designs.

idol making in West Bengal
Artiste busy in idol preparation for Durga Puja, Source: Antikleidi

Handmade potteries are an important fine art found in West Bengal, especially in regions like Murshidabad, Bishnupur, Bankura, Midnapore and Chaurigacha-Katalia. A class of people known as the “Kumbhakars” live in these regions and make clay pottery items for their living. These categories of people are in general women and their handmade figurines, utensils, dolls and toys are made with perfection. Clay modelling is also popular in the region. The clay idols of various Gods and Goddesses are world renowned. The conch shell carvers or the Sankhari families of Bishnupur are famous for their intricate carvings.

Did You Know?
The Terracotta murals and sculptures of Birbhum, Murshidabad, Digha, Bishnupur and Hooghly are the finest of India. This artwork had been originated during the Mauryan age and the theme of these arts is folk in nature. The clay of the riverbed is burnt in firewood or dry twigs to form this Terracotta. Various shapes of animals and utensils are generally made.








The Dokra metal works of Bishnupur are one of the oldest forms of metal casting. This art is practiced by the Dokra Damar tribes of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa and the Dokra models are made of an unique process which involves wax. The artisans make small wax models with intricate designs on the body and put them in clay core. Then a typical metal casting is done on the models by which the wax melts while giving the model a shiny brass look. This artworks are popular in the Bankura, Budwan and Midnapore districts, from where the goods are sent to Kolkata and abroad stores. Small dancing Santhal dolls, animal figurines, Paikons, Pancha Pradeep are some of the popular Dokra arts.

The Chhau art of the Charida village of Purulia are world famous. These Chhau masks are a part of a traditional dance form of the state. The art is limited to the 250 artisans of the village but it has an immense international demand. Each mask costs approximately Rs 3000.00 to Rs 5000.00 depending on the design and grandeur. These masks are huge in size, made of clay, dried and covered with paper and cloth strips. After that they are painted with bright colours and decorated with Zari and Peacock feathers. Huge eyes and nose are drawn on them.  

‘Shola Pith’ is a form of natural Thermocol which is used in a form of artwork in Murshidabad district. It is a milky white coloured sponge wood used by artisans to make amazing complicated artefacts of gods and goddesses faces, flowery designs, garlands, small detailed figurines of gods and goddesses, elephant-howdahs, peacock-boats and palanquins.

Potua is another form of handicraft which is almost on the verge of extinction. Potua art is found in the small villages of Purulia. This art form is a mix of tradition and modern art and is a very distinct form of Indian art. This art is done on schrolls made up of ‘Jorapata' or 'Dighol Pat’ which s a form of leaf. Stories are drawn in the form of a series based on tribal lifestyles and other mythological stories. The paintings are done with bright colours and generally portray the culture of Bengal.

Some of the well known artists, sculptures and painters of the state are, Acharya Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Asit Kumar Haldar, Kshitin Mazumdar, Samar Gupta, Benod Behari Mukherjee, Sarada Ukil, Sudhir Khastagir and Ram Kinkar Beij.


Handloom

Murshidabad silk sarees of West BengalWest Bengal is rich in various handloom products and the legacy is being carried on till today by the master weavers and artisans, who put in their effort to produce master pieces everyday. The product range varies from exclusive sarees to normal dress materials. ‘Tangail’ and ‘Jamdani’ are the two forms of handloom sarees exclusively made in the state. Burdwan district is famous for Tangail sarees.

Silk in West Bengal has its own charm. The Baluchari Sarees of Bishnupur and Murshidabad Silk Sarees are some of the fashionable sarees produced in India. For Baluchari sarees, weavers have to first dye each silk strand separately, dry them up and put in a loom. The design on the body of the handloom has to be done through holes on a rectangular cardboard piece and it takes weeks to make one sari. The Murshidabad silks sarees are in general brocades with bright colour combinations. These silk sarees are generally handcrafted by a specific community of muslim artisans. The sarees have Kalka designs and Cone motifs with flowers at the borders.

Cuisine of West Bengal

food culture of west bengalWhen it comes to Bengali cuisine, the first thing that strikes is the sweets. People of Bengal cannot do away without sweets in any auspicious and social ceremony. Distribution of sweets among family and friends is considered holy in all parts of Bengal. Bengali sweets are generally made of ‘Chenna’ or sweetened cottage cheese with flour and specific pulses, which make the taste different from the north Indian sweets. Shondesh, Rasagolla, Roshomalai, Chum Chum, Mishti Doi, Rajbhog, Pantua and Kheer Kodombo are some of popular sweets of Bengal which have become world renowned. Various forms of ‘Pithe’ and ‘Puli’ are specialised sweets of the winter and they are mostly made using rice flour, coconut, jaggery and milk. Chandrapuli, Gokul Pithe, Pati Shapta, Dudh Puli etc. are some variants of the yummy Pithe of West Bengal.

For the main course, there are hundreds of traditional dishes present. The staple food is rice and fresh food of West Bengalwater fish. Rohu, Hisla, Pabda, Koi, Tengada, Magur, Shingi, Parshe and Katla are some of the commonly eaten fishes of the region. Unlike other parts of India, boiled rice varieties are mostly preferred by the residents of this state. Being an agrarian based economy, Bengal gets a lot of vegetables which are made with typical spice mix. Varieties of gourd, leafy vegetables, purple eggplant, banana stem, banana flower, stalks, green jackfruit and red pumpkins falls within the daily cuisine of each household. ‘Luchi’, ‘Porota’ and ‘Atta Roti’ are some of the wheat based foods which are made plain, as well as stuffed. Chicken, Goat and Lamb are also consumed and mustard oil is used for their cooking. Some of the popular traditional dishes of West Bengal are, ‘Ilish Mach Bhape, ‘Shukto’, ‘Panch Mishali Charchori’, ‘Alu Posto’, ‘Mochar Ghonto’ etc.

Contemporary Bengali cuisine has been influenced by Mughlai and Chinese preparations. Many restaurants inside the state serve these cuisine dishes. ‘Biryani’ of Bengal is considered to be the best after “Lucknowi” biryani in India. This is due to the prominence of many exiled Nawabs from the Tipu Sultan and Wajid Ali Shah family in Bengal.

Festivals of West Bengal

West Bengal is a state where people of diverse culture live in harmony. When in comes to festival, the state celebrates all the traditional Bengali festivals along with many occasions of other communities. Bengali year starts with the ‘Nabo Borsho’ or the Bengali New Year in the month of April, when the businessmen and shop owners welcome the Baishakh and start their new year financials. ‘Dol Punima’ or Holi is another festival, during which the town Shantiniketan celebrates a colourful ‘Vasant Utsav’, drawing culturally inclined tourists from around the world. Many cultural fairs take place at this time. ‘Rath Jatra’, ‘Janmashtami’, ‘Rakhi Purnima’, ‘Shivaratri’, ‘Kalpataru Utsab’ are ‘Jhulan Yatra’ are some of the most celebrated festivals of the state.

festivals in West Bengal
Devotees celebrating Durga Puja, source: RitamBanerjee

But the main festival of Bengal is the ‘Durga Puja’ which takes place in the month of September – October, to celebrate the homecoming of Goddess Durga to her father’s home on earth with her children, for her annual vacation. This is a 10 day event that sees the entire state decked up in the festive fervor. The capital city of Kolkata dons the festive finery in such humungous proportions that many have compared this festival to be even more grandiose than the world famous Brazil’s Rio Carnival.

The state of West Bengal is also very secular in celebrating the festivals of other religions due to its long history of influences from Muslim rulers and the Christian British colonists. There are also plethora of smaller annual events that have taken overtures of cultural festivals. Thus, the state of West Bengal sees festive celebrations big and small almost all though the year.

The state of West Bengal has been on the fore front of India’s cultural heritage. The capital city of Kolkata is also widely acknowledged as the “Cultural Capital of India”. The variety of the sociocultural spectrum that is evident in this state and the world famous personalities from this state still is pushing India in the world stage. Internationally awarded authors like Jhumpa Lahiri, sitarist like Pandit Ravi Shankar, economist like Amartya Sen are few names in the contemporary world that have showcased the rich culture of West Bengal to the world.
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