When it comes to devouring gourmet food and celebrating festivals, Bengalis surely top the list. Their vibrant festivals are one of the many things that accentuate Kolkata, making it one of the most happening places in East India. The residents of this region stay busy preparing for the festivals throughout the year. Swathed in lively colours, the city witnesses a lot of commotion and rush all around owing to the festive mood.
The Bengalis celebrate a plethora of festivals that take place throughout the year, like Durga Puja, Kali Puja, Saraswati Puja, etc. Further, many lesser known ones are celebrated as well which assume different forms in different regions of the country. Mentioned below are four Kolkata festivals you ought to celebrate at least once in your life:
Goddess Saraswati is the Hindu Goddess of learning and celebrating her homecoming is one of the biggest celebrations of Kolkata. Usually, it is known as Vasant Panchami in Northern parts of the country and Saraswati Puja in West Bengal. On the fifth day of Hindu month of Magha, people dedicate their devotion to the Goddess of learning. All study related things are left near the idol as the Bengalis reckon that it will help them to ace the exams.
On this day, most institutes and universities host a small ceremony. Teen and young adults celebrate by wearing colourful and ethnic clothes and visiting richly decorated pandals of Goddess Saraswati.
While talking about festivals of Bengal, how can you possibly miss out on ‘Durga Puja’. It is the biggest festival of the Bengalis that continues for four days at a stretch. The homecoming of Goddess Durga is celebrated in the month of September-October mostly. Every year, during this time of the year, the entire city is adorned like a bride and swathed in colourful lights. For these four days, the city comes alive with the perpetual commotion and sound of dhakis in the backdrop. A common practice among Bengalis is pandal-hopping during the night and having a grand dinner at a nice restaurant in Kolkata. So, whether it is the day time or night time, Bengal does not sleep for these four days.
In the month of April, comes the Bengali New year and the Bengalis leave no efforts to enjoy the day to the fullest. This day is significant because it marks the beginning of a new year for a Bengali household. People make special arrangements to make the day special like buying new clothes and preparing extensive Bengali dishes for the whole family. Traders and businessmen start their new accounting books and offer their prayers to Gods and Goddesses. The ceremony is commonly called ‘Hal Khata’. Offering sweets to friends and other family members is a common practice in many Bengali households.
Known as Diwali in most parts of the country, Kali Puja is surely one of the most exciting festivals of the Bengalis. Approximately, 20 days after the Durga Puja, Kali Puja is celebrated which is the second biggest Bengali festival. The idol of the Deity is adorned with garlands of hibiscuses and jewels, and offered sweets, rice and even animal sacrifices. Similar to Diwali, it is a festival of lights as well.
The aforementioned festivals are some of the biggest festivals in Kolkata. If you visit during the festive time, make sure to book a hotel in Kolkata beforehand. Mostly, premium hotels like The LaLiT Great Eastern do not have rooms available during these times.