Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bengali New Year, is celebrated all around the country with great enthusiasm and amusements. Pahela Baishakh not only marks the beginning of a year, but this day also manifests the traditional Bengali lifestyle and culture.
While people in the city area celebrate the day through remembering our indigenous culture and tradition, i.e., by wearing traditional dresses, eating panta-ilish, arranging events of traditional songs and dance, participating in Mangal Shobhajatra etc., the tradition of our eternal Bangla can still be found intact in rural people’s way of celebration.
New Year’s festivities are closely linked to rural life in Bengal. As the month of Chaitra comes to an end, people of all ages get enthusiastic about the arrival of the new year, cherishing new hope and a fresh beginning of their everyday life. The coming of Pahela Baishakh not only infuses the village people with new hopes but the vibrant day also removes the monotony of their life.
On the day of Pahela Baishakh, a happy mood prevails all around. Village people exchange greetings with each other by saying ‘Shuvo Nababarsha’ (Happy New Year). The ambience of the day of Pahela Baishakh also seems very beautiful. While trees wear the dress of new green leaves, the young boys and girls, men and women wear new, colorful and traditional dresses to celebrate the mirthful day. Men wear lungi and punjabi while women wear red and white sari. Moreover, in many places, roads and shops, houses and walls are decorated with different ‘Baishakhi’ designs and alponas of different attractive colors.
On the day of Pahela Baishakh, the young people usually take bath early in the morning and dress in traditional clothes. Although people eat traditional food like panta-ilish, many special dishes are also cooked in their homes. It is customary for the villagers that they invite their friends, relatives and neighbors on this day of celebration.
Traditionally, businessmen start this day with a new ledger, clearing out the old. This is known as ‘Halkhata’. The businessmen of all kinds open new account book note while the customers, most of whom are the farmers, try to pay off their old debt. In order to make the event more joyful and acceptable, the owners decorate their grocery shops with colorful papers, flowers and balloons and hold a party. Meanwhile, Baishakhi fairs are also arranged in many villages. Baishakhi fair is really a place of great amusement and delight for the villagers.
Besides, village people arrange many cultural events to celebrate Pahela Baishakh. In many areas people arrange football matches where even aged people take part in the game. At night, songs and dance events, stage dramas, etc. are arranged while the young boys sometimes love to arrange picnic.
People from all walks of life in the rural area celebrate Pahela Baishakh through many happy events and amusements, irrespective of their religion, creed or social class. This day really strengthens the bonding and brings a harmony among the people living in the village areas.