Saturday, April 14, 2012

Happy Bengali New Year! Pohela Boishakh!

Woot! Today -- April 14th -- is Pohela Boishakh, the Bengali new year and Bengalis all around the globe -- whether they live in Bangladesh, Calcutta or West Texas are celebrating in some way.

My mother wanted to throw a party. It's such a positive, joyous, life thing to do, that I couldn't say no. This is also the first time, since my dad's death, she's actually wanted to do something yay, it's a step toward embracing life and I'm going to celebate. Even though my schedule includes 2 soccer games, a chalk art festival, and a Girlscout event with the Humane Society at the mall, I went ahead and invited the few Bengali families living in my part of my West Texas.

Celebrating the Nobo Borsho (New Year in Bengali) is part of our culture, tradition and history and Spring is actually the perfect setting for it -- beautiful weather, nature displaying fresh foliage and blooms, vibrant new life all around. Even though historically, the April date was arrived at thanks to taxes & a wise emperor. According to Wikipedia:

Celebrations of Pohela Boishakh started from Akbar's reign. It was customary to clear up all dues on the last day of the year . On the next day, or the first day of the new year, landlords would entertain their tenants with sweets. On this occasion there used to be fairs and other festivities. In due course the occasion became part of domestic and social life, and turned into a day of merriment. The main event of the day was to open a halkhata or new book of accounts.

In Bangladesh, the day is marked with a parade featuring amazing artwork created by the students of Charukola (Fine Arts) Institute.

All the young people dress up: brightly colored sarees and flower garlands for the women and embroidered kurtas for the men. This is the time to attend fairs, frolic and flirt!

The fairs are a lot of fun-- and yes, Dhaka (the capital city where I grew up) had multiple fairs and events going on all day-- and featured food stalls, knick-knacks & pretties, but also stages for song, dance and drama performanaces. Bengalis are very artistic souls (heh, now you know where my  djinn stories come from!).

(all pictures are foraged from the web since I haven't attended a Pohela Boishak celebration in Bangladesh in too many years...if anyone wants credit or for me to remove them, please contact me! Meanwhile, thank you for their use)

(A traditional feast of panta bhaat (rice soaked in water), fried Hilsa fish and a medley of bhortas)

Mom and I have been cooking up a feast since yesterday. There are three different types of Bhortas (savory smash vegetable concoctions --that taste better than this description), a pitha -- dessert crepe made with rice flour and filled with a rice, coconut and jaggery molasses mix) in the fridge. Today, we make Khichuri (rice & lentils cooked together), fried eggplant and an egg curry (because the egg is the beginning of everything, according to Mom). All these are traditional fixins that Mom insisted you had to have for Pohela Boishak.

I have been worrying that she'll tire herself out as I try to help out as her sous chef...but mostly I love watching her buzz around the kitchen full of energy, plans and anticipation. This is the Mom I remember. So Shubho Nobo Borsho! Happy New Year! May this day and others be full of laughter, love and life.


  1. What a bright and cheery holiday. Renewal and positive. How cool your mom is ready for that.

    I could sit down and enjoy a feast like this.


    1. Thanks for visiting Sia! Yes, mom is making progress, sometimes a bit slow, but it's good.

  2. Umh.. A traditional feast of panta bhaat with Hilsa fish it's so delicious. I love it very much. I wait for Pohela Boishakh 1423.