All over the world if there is a Bengali community, a festive mood will be all around for sure. Mainly they never fail to celebrate the main festivals like Poila Baishak, Durga Puja, Dol (Holi), Pous Parbon etc.“Baro mashe Tero Parbon” (13 festivals in 12 months)- That is how the Bengalis are known as. Each festival has its own essence and dictum. When it comes to celebrating Bengali New Year 'Poila Boishakh' I have some distinct memory to share.
During my student life, I used to celebrate Nababarsha in a different way. If wearing new clothes is a ritual in Bengali tradition during the festive seasons, we used to buy blank cards to draw and gift to the friends and teacher on the auspicious day of Poila Baishak in Santiniketan . When Bengalis will be seen wrangling around the shops buying new clothes, giggling and gulping on roadside puchka's almost covered with shopping bags, we used to be found engrossed in drawing greeting cards and writing small poems all by ourselves. Our childhood in Santiniketan missed all the humdrum of the "Chatra Sale" offers where the huge discounts are like receiving lottery all of a sudden. I miss those days.
In Santiniketan we used to celebrate Rabindranath Tagore's Birthday on Poila Baishak. A musical journey used to start a week ahead, when we rehearsed on one of Tagore's dance dramas making the atmosphere all melodious and orchestral to celebrate his birthday and Poila Baishak both together. The rhythmic atmosphere still rings in my mind.
Poila Baishak celebration makes the atmosphere all bright and spirited to welcome a brand new Bengali new year with the resolutions to deliver in the coming days. And giggling and chatting over some delicious and sumptuous foods with friends and family can't be completed without that. I was grown up celebrating each festival with Food. Polishing of a sumptuous meal and then taking big burps over hajmola are still so fresh and alive. Yes, I try to replicate the same way my mother does.
I can’t think that a Poila Baishak got missed without having Chingri machher malaikari or Koksha Mansho along with Pulao and doi mach. After getting married I continued the food journey in the same way like my mother used to do. Even I always try to follow my mother’s footsteps the way she reigns over the household.
I have seen my mother very particular about always keeping the kitchen and rooms very clean and hygienic so that we should not get any contact with the germs carried by the insects. For my mother cleaning the household is like a ritual before Poila Baishak and Durga puja. I have often seen her holding the Godrej Lal hit at the end of the day spraying around the corners of the drainage pipes. Again I followed my mother’s footsteps. Godrej Lal Hit has become a part and parcel of my/our life when it comes to maintaining hygiene and cleanliness.