Pahela Baishakh

Hi all, took a bit long time to come…Sorry. But, now I am here.

Today we are talking about Pahela Baishakh.

There are many calendars prevails around the world. There are Chinese calendar, Julian calendar, Solar, lunar calendar so on and so forth. Similarly, there is also a Bengali calendar. And like all other calendars, it also has a first day of its year and this new day of the year is celebrated among Bengali as Pahela Baishakh.

It is celebrated on 14 April as a national holiday in Bangladesh, and on 14 or 15 April in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and part of Assam by people of Bengali heritage.
The festival is celebrated with processions, fairs and family time. The traditional greeting for Bengali New Year is শুভ নববর্ষ “Shubho Nabobarsho” which is literally “Happy New Year”. The Mangal Shobhajatra is organized in Bangladesh on this day. In 2016, the UNESCO declared this festivity organized by the Dhaka University as a cultural heritage of humanity.

The word Pahela (Bengali: পহেলা) stands for ‘first’ and Baishakh (Bengali: বৈশাখ) is the first month of the Bengali calendar.

Mughal Origin

According to some sources, the festival was a tradition introduced in Bengal during the rule of Mughal Emperor Akbar to time the tax year to the harvest. The Bangla year was known as Bangabda at that time. Akbar asked the royal astronomer Fathullah Shirazi to create a new calendar by combining the lunar Islamic calendar and solar Hindu calendar (already in use) and this was known as Fasholi shan or the harvest calendar. It is also said, this started the Bengali calendar.

Hindu Origin

The Bengali festival of Pahela Baishakh is related to the traditional Hindu New Year festival called Vaisakhi. This is an ancient harvest festival of India, particularly in the Punjab region. Vaisakhi, also spelled Baisakhi.
Hindu traditions and customs continue among Bengali people regardless of their current faith. It has been found that many Muslim Bengali women wear saris, bindi (a mark on their forehead, religious to Hindu women), celebrate pujo (prayers) to Hindu goddess Durga, and usher in Poyla Baisakh to celebrate Bengali new year. This is a part of the tolerance and borrowing of mutual cultural traditions amongst Bengali.

Celebration in India and Bangladesh

Bengali people of India have historically celebrated Pahela Baishakh, and it is an official regional holiday in its states of West Bengal and Tripura. The day is also called Naba Barsha.
Bengali families clean their house and decorate them with alpana (rangoli). In the center of the alpana color pattern, they place an earthen pot, filled with water, capped with mango leaves and marked with auspicious Hindu red and white swastika sign. Ganesha – the god of auspicious beginnings, and Lakshmi – the goddess of prosperity and wealth are remembered. Many people visit the nearby river to say their prayers and take a ritual bath.

Notable events of West Bengal include the early morning cultural processions called Prabhat Pheri. These processions see dance troupes and children dressed up with floats, displaying their performance arts to songs of Rabindra Nath Tagore.

In Tripura and North East India, people wear new clothes and start the day by visiting Hindu temples. The Hindu Bengalis perform Kumari puja and Ganesha puja, youngsters visit elders to seek their blessings, and women put red sindoor (vermilion) on each other’s head as a mark of good wishes.

In West Bengal, Bengalis mark the day by taking a dip in rivers, then praying to Lakshmi and Ganesha. Traders start a new accounting year. Opening the accounting books is called Hal Khata. Some open the first page by drawing the Hindu symbol of auspiciousness called swastika. Some shopkeepers print goddess calendars with their address, and distribute them to their clients.


The Bengali New Year is observed as a public holiday in Bangladesh. It is celebrated across religious boundaries by its Muslim majority and Hindu minority.
The day is marked with singing, processions, and fairs. Traditionally, businesses start this day with a new ledger, clearing out the old. Singers perform traditional songs welcoming the new year.

The celebrations start in Dhaka at dawn with a rendition of Rabindranath Tagore‘s song “Esho he Baishakh” by Chhayanat under the banyan tree at Ramna (the Ramna Batamul). An integral part of the festivities is the Mangal Shobhajatra, a traditional colourful procession organised by the students of the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka (Charukala). They organized the festival to create masks and floats with at least three theme, one highlighting evil, another courage, and a third about peace. It also highlighted the pride of Bangladeshi people for their folk heritage irrespective of religion, creed, caste, gender or age.

In Chittagong, similar traditions of that in Dhaka. The students of the fine arts institute of Chittagong University brings the Mangal Shobhajatra procession in the city, followed by daylong cultural activities.

At DC hill & CRB, a range of cultural programmes held by different socio-cultural and educational organisations of the city. The Shammilito Pahela Boishakh Udjapon Parishad holds a two-day function at the hill premises to observe the festival, starting with Rabindra Sangeet recitations in the morning and in the late afternoon, Chaitra Sangkranti programme is held to bid a farewell to the previous year.

Let’s have a look on some alpona (rangoli) of this New Year

Now, it’s time for some food item of Pehela Baishakh

Main things of Pehela Baishakh
  • Punjabis and Red and White Saris – On Pehela Baishakh, women to wear simple traditional white saris rimmed with red and for men with the Punjabi.

  • Panta Bhat and Illish Maas – There’s no end to the delicious savory and sweet treats on this day but a simple dish of Panta Bhat (rice soaked in water and salt) and Illish Maas (fried Hilsa fish) are staple meals to share with the family. It goes really well with pickled Mango Achar!

  • Reading Rabindranath Tagore – Bengalis boast an array of writers, poets, artists, and performers, most notably poet Rabindranath Tagore, the first non- western author to be awarded the Nobel Prize. On this day, the Daiyan family revisits his timeless song, “Esho, he Boishakh”, by doing a reading as a family and reflecting on the words that pay tribute to the earth.

People forget their diversity, they immerged themselves on the waves of enjoyment. They Partake
on each and every ceremonies and rituals leaving behind their religious belief, they mingle among themselves and showers love among themselves.

2 thoughts on “Pahela Baishakh

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