I was really in a dilemma whether to write this in Bangla or not.
Bangla is an emotion and is THE language to write in, when it comes to write about the Bangla New Year or Noboborsho. But then I thought that there just might be some non- Bongs who, if we are lucky enough; might just be following or reading our blog!
Bolstered with that ego boosting thought, I sat to pen down my two cents on Nobo Borsho. In Bangla we have a proverb – Baro Mash e Tero Parbon, broadly translated as too many festivities in a dozen months. Amongst all these Nobo Borsho or Poila Baisakh is an extremely important one. The Bangla New Year starts from the Poila or the 1 st of the Baisakh Month which is 14 th or 15 th of April. I will of course not go to the historical when’s and how’s of Noboborsho, but just ramble about our earliest memories of Poila Baisakh.
When we were young, and when the families hadn’t really become nuclear; the day would be preceded by almost a month long activity. It was an occasion which required new clothes for every member of the family. So shopping would be done meticulously and for the whole family. The day would begin with everyone waking early and having a bath to wear the new clothes. Us, the younger lot would touch the elders’ feet and seek blessings.
This was a day when the menu would be elaborate at home. The 80s and the early 90s had not seen this tremendous influx of eating out on Poila Baisakh and neither the Restaurants also laying out special Poila Baisakh Menus. Thus, it would still be the Ma and the Thakumas toiling at the kitchen and producing some lip smacking Bangali khabar.
Apart from the excitement of new clothes and Basanti Pulao and Ilish Maach and Mangsho; another highlight of Noboborsho was the Halkhata. Anyone who remembers what a Halkhata is? This was the auspicious day when the shops would usher in their new financial year and invite their regular patrons and a new account would open. It was almost a tradition for the Ginnis or the matriarchs of the house to go out for Halkhata in the evening and come back with a lot of Bengali calenders, tightly rolled up and packets of complimentary sweets. The calendars would mostly have Ma Durga, Radha- Krishna, Ganesh, Kali or Swami Bibekananda, Paramhansa and other eminent personalities and the small squares would have symbols such as half moon, full moon etc signifying Purnima, Amabashya and so on and so forth.
Noboborsho also meant Prabhat Feris. The minstrels would start the day musically, singing songs such as ‘Esho He Baisakh” and other songs. Gone are those days when the Para clubs and the Kakimas or the Didis proficient in Rabindrasangeet would teach us songs such as Phoole Phoole dhole dhole and make us walk through our locality singing these, while that boy would look on!!!.
The times kept changing and the years went by and we grew up. We still buy new clothes, but from the swanky malls. We still eat a lavish Bangali spread, but from the Bengali specialty restaurants. We still listen to Esho He Baisakh; but in TV channels like Tara, Channel 7 etc and hum to ourselves to satiate our cultural propensity.
Tomorrow is the beginning of another New Year. Tomorrow is the beginning of another 365 days. Tomorrow is Noboborsho. Tomorrow we usher in 1424.
Let this Noboborsho be a year of new beginnings. May this year be one of fulfillments, one of contentment. May all that you aspire for come true. Shubho Noboborsho. Bochor bhalo katuk.
Love and Light
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