West Bengal is a land of festivals. There is a popular saying in Bengali ‘‘Baro Mase Tero Parban’: it literally means thirteen festivals in twelve months. Almost all festivals of all religions are celebrated here with equal religious sentiment and fervor. The people of West Bengal strive hard to maintain the tradition and culture of its land in the festivals they celebrate. A great number of fairs are also organized. The most popular festival celebrated in West Bengal is Durga Puja where all the people come out in the streets and celebrate this four day festival. Other festivals celebrated in West Bengal are Kaali Puja, Basant Panchami, Dushera, Bahi Dooj, Holi, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Jayanti, Rathyatra and Christmas. Other events which have almost taken the form of festivals are Rabindra Jayanti (birthday of Rabindranath Tagore), Birthday of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Birthday of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Durga Puja is the most important Hindu festival of the Bengalis. This festival is celebrated in the month of October, throughout the West Bengal. During this festival, the people from all over India and world visit West Bengal to enjoy the festival. All the government offices, educational institutions and law courts are closed during the festival. Durga Puja is the most important festival in the city of Kolkata. The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil. This festival is celebrated for five days and marked by prayers to goddess Durga, feasts, rejoicing, music, dance and drama. On this day, the people wear new clothes and visit all the community Pujas and worship the ten-armed. Goddess Durga, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Ganesh and Kartikeya in beautifully illuminated and decorated pandals. The priests perform the prayers at appointed times while the devotees visit these pandals throughout the day. In towns and villages, in the evening, drama, song, music, dance programmes, sports, physical and cultural competitions etc are held in which everyone participates. Community feasts are also held.
Eid is the largest festival of the Muslims in West Bengal. The date of this festival is not fixed and celebrated in the month of May. Eid-al-Fitr comes after the lapse of the Ramzan month and marks a happy communion after a month of prayer and fasting. Seventy days after Eid-al-Fitr, comes another festive occasion, known as Eid-al-Juha. It is celebrated throughout the state, but with great grandeur in Kolkata. A very large congregation of Muslims and non-Muslims is held at the Kolkata Maidan.
Christmas or Christmas Day (Old English: Crۂstesmæsse, meaning "Christ's Mass") is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is prepared for by the season of Advent or Nativity Fast and is prolonged by the Octave of Christmas and further by the season of Christmastide. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world's nations is celebrated culturally by a large number of non-Christian people, and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.
The festival of Kali Puja is not an ancient one. Kali Puja was practically unknown before the 18th century, however a late 17th century devotional text Kalika mangalkavya by Balram mentions an annual festival dedicated to Kali. It was introduced in Bengal during the 18th century, by King (Raja) Krishnachandra of Navadvipa. Kali Puja gained popularity in the 19th century, with Krishanachandra.
Chhath is an ancient Hindu festival and only Vedic Festival dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, Surya and Chhathi Maiya (ancient Vedic Goddess Usha). The Chhath Puja is performed in order to thank Surya for sustaining life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. In Hinduism, Sun worship is believed to help cure a variety of diseases, including leprosy, and helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders.
Guru Nanak Jayanti
Gurpurab or Guru Nanak Jayanti is the most important and sacred festival of the Sikh community and is observed by them across the world. It is also known as the Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav, that also connotes to the Sikh guru’s birth anniversary. The festival is celebrated every year on a full moon day in the month of Kartik, according to the Hindu lunar calendar – Kartik Purnima, falling mostly during October-November.
In West Bengal region, Holi is known by the name of "Dol Jatra", "Dol Purnima" or the "Swing Festival". The festival is celebrated in a dignified manner by placing the icons of Krishna and Radha on a picturesquely decorated palanquin which is then taken round the main streets of the city or the village. On the Dol Purnima day in the early morning, the students dress up in saffron-coloured or pure white clothes and wear garlands of fragrant flowers. They sing and dance to the accompaniment of musical instruments like ektara, dubri, veena, etc. The devotees take turns to swing them while women dance around the swing and sing devotional songs. During these activities, the men keep spraying coloured water and coloured powder, abir, at them.
In West Bengal, Sankranti, also known as Poush Sankranti named after the Bengali month in which it falls, is celebrated as a harvest festival Poush Parbon. The freshly harvested paddy along with the date palm syrup in the form of Khejurer Gur and Patali is used in the preparation of a variety of traditional Bengali sweets made with rice flour, coconut, milk and 'khejurer gur' (date palm jaggery) and known as 'Pitha'. All sections of society participate in a three-day begins on the day before Sankranti and ends on the day after. The Goddess Lakshmi is usually worshipped on the day of Sankranti. In the Himalayan regions of Darjeeling, the festival is as known as Magey Sakrati. It is distinctly associated with the worship of Lord Shiva. Traditionally, people were required to take a bath before sunrise and then commence their pooja. The food that is consumed consists primarily of sweet potatoes and various yams.
The Day of Ashura is the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar. It marks the Remembrance of Muharram but not the Islamic month. A'ashura was an ancient Judaic feast day of celebration and atonement. It is better known these days for mourning the martyrdom of Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH (AD 680). Sunni Muslims believe that Moses fasted on this day to demonstrate his gratitude to God for the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. According to Sunni traditions, Muhammad fasted on this day and encouraged others to fast. While the word ashura means 'tenth' in Arabic and literally translated, means "the tenth day"; Islamic scholars differ on the reason for the naming.