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Bengali New Year

Bengali New Year 2018 and 2019

The Bengali New Year celebration is known as “Poila Baisakh” which translates to the first month of the Bengali calendar. It is the first day of the Bengali New Year and usually falls in mid-April. It is a holiday filled with rejuvenation, rebirth and joy, much like new year’s celebrations in most countries around the world.

201814 AprSatBengali New Year
201914 AprSunBengali New Year
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History of Bengali New Year’s Day

The holiday was created when the Mughal Emperor revised the Bengali calendar in order to align tax collection with the harvest period. Akbar the Great, a descendant of Gengis Kahn, began a Mughal dynasty that lasted 300 years. Akbar felt the need to develop an accurate and scientific method for calculating days and months. He commissioned Amir Fathullah Shirazi, a scientist, to create a calendar that was more fair to peasants as the current calendar was based on lunar years rather than solar years. Because lunar years are shorter than solar years by approximately 12 days, the collection of taxes as well as the collection of loan payments was unfair to peasants as they had less time in which to make payments.

Bengali New Year’s Day Traditions

The holiday is warmly celebrated throughout Bangladesh. Parades and loud festivals are held, many of which are similar to seasonal and agricultural festivals held during ancient times. Local agricultural products and crafts are sold at the more than 200 fairs held throughout Bangladesh on New Year’s Day. The traditional Charak Mela includes outstanding spiritual acrobatics as well.

On the day before, businessmen close their account of books and start new on Bengali New Year’s Day. It is believed that this renews and strengthens their business relationships with customers.

Cleaning is also an important tradition on this holiday. People would bathe in the morning and don clothing made of the finest linen. Afterward, they would visit friends and family before gathering to watch the parades or participate in the festivals.

Many people exchange sweets while younger people touch the feet of elders in order to seek blessings for the upcoming year. There is a custom to wear gem studded rings on this day in order to please the stars and planets as well. Handmade gifts and greeting cards are exchanged which are normally based on a local theme.

On the last day of the year, Bengali’s purchase copies of the Panjika, the Bengali almanac, a guide to festivals, favourable days throughout the year.