Pohela Boishakh is the Bengali New Year. It is celebrated in Bangladesh and Indian state of West Bengal. Wherever there is a Bengali community Pohela Bishakh is a huge festivity. In Bengali word “pohela” means the first, and Baisakh is the first month in the traditional Bengali calendar.
Pohela Boishakh is celebrated on the 15th of April. According to the Bengali calendar the current year is 1424. Being clean is very important tradition. People have a bath and the whole house is thoroughly cleaned. People traditionally visit their cousins, friends and neighbours.
While Pohela Boishakh is a lively festival, its origins are less fanciful. The Bengali calendar year was developed over 400 years ago by the Emperor Akbar as a way to collect taxes on a specific date every year. When the new year begins, accountants can close their books on the previous year and start fresh.
Boishakhi fairs are held in many parts of the country. Various agricultural products, traditional handicrafts, toys, cosmetics, as well as various kinds of food and sweets are sold at these fairs. The fairs also provide entertainment, with singers and dancers. They present folk songs. Among other attractions of these fairs are puppet shows and merry-go-rounds.
It is the ritual of closing the old Ledger and opening a new one with new entries on Pohela Boishakh. Traders involved in gold, clothing or food business send out invitations to old customers and entertain them with sweets.
In Indian city of Kolkata people believe that the Pohela Bishakh is the best time to greet each other and exchange sweets. Shop keepers try to use the occasion so they offer huge discounts on clothes.
Women traditionally wear saris made of white cloth with red border. Bengali men wear kurta and dhuti (dhoti). People often participate in processions held in the early morning hours of the first day of the new year.