West Bengal – Culture and Tradition

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Durga puja

Bengal is the eastern end of gangetic plains, the apex of the Bay of Bengal. It is made up by the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta system.

Kolkata the captial of West Bengal is also called as the cultural capital of India as it was birth place of many Indian literary and artist like Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Swami Vivekananda, Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Satyajit Ray who made Bengal the face of progress and culture in India.

People of Bengal share there culture and traditions with neighboring Bangladesh, the most common language used is Bengali.

History

The area is dominated by the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers fertile delta. Stone Age tools dating back 20,000 years have been excavated in the state, while Archaeologist discovered civilisation in certain parts in first millennium BC.

Mahabharata suggest bengal was divided into various parts according to tribes or kingdoms. Vanga Kingdom was the first powerful seafaring nation of Bengal, with the invasion of Alexander the Great the region again came to prominence but Alexander withdrew from the region because of Gangaridai empire that was located in the Bengal region.

Later Bengal came under Gupta Empire. By the 6th century, the Gupta Empire, which ruled over the northern Indian subcontinent had largely broken up and Bengal splintered into various kingdoms, than comes the Mallabhum rule and the Pala Empire.
Than the invasion by Chola dynasty and Western Chalukya Empire led to establishment of the Sena dynasty.

Bengal has always been the gateway to the eastern parts of the Indian subcontinent. It is the shortest and easiest route from the Bay of Bengal to the Himalayas which make it as a commercial hub that connected the sea to the famous Silk Route. After the fall of Mughal Empire, the focus of Indian culture and politics shifted from Delhi to Calcutta. The city gradually became the capital of the British India.

Bengal played a pivotal role in the Indian freedom movement, many leaders of Indian freedom struggle hailed from Bengal like Chittaranjan Das, Surendranath Banerjea, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Prafulla Chaki, Bagha Jatin, Khudiram Bose, Surya Sen, Binoy–Badal–Dinesh, Sarojini Naidu, Aurobindo Ghosh, Rashbehari Bose and many others.

Bengal was divided into the state of West Bengal of India and the province of East Bengal under Pakistan, renamed East Pakistan in 1958. East Pakistan (East Bengal) rebelled against Pakistani military rule to become independent republic of Bangladesh, literally “Land of Bengal”, after a war of independence against the Pakistani army in 1971.

Tradition of Bengal

Bengal was the richest part of Medieval India, West Bengal has a long tradition of popular literature, music and drama largely based on Bengali folklore and Hindu epics and Puranas.

A Bengali wedding rituals and ceremonies that can span several days. In most cases, it starts with the Kabin ceremony and ends with the Bou Bhat ceremony and usually the rituals are classified as the Ghoti and Bangal rituals.

Festivals of Bengal

Durga Puja is the biggest festival of Bengal and is most vibrant festival throughout the state. Temporary pandals are raised everywhere to worship godess Durga.

Beside there are other festival of importance too like Dolyatra, Saraswati Puja, Kojagori Lakshmi Puja, Rath Yatra, Janmashtami, Jagaddhatri Puja, Shivratri, Vishwakarma Puja, Kartik Puja, Raas Yatra, Ganesh Chathurthi, Eid al-Adha (Bakr-Id), Muharram, Buddha Purnima, Poush Parbon, Gajan, Bhai Phonta, Pohela Boishakh, Ganga Sagar Mela. Poyela Boishakh is the first day of bengali new year.

Costumes of Bengal

Though Bengali women traditionally wear the sari and shalwar kameez, Western attire has gained acceptance among younger and professional women. While the traditional costume for men are dhoti, panjabi, kurta, sherwani, pyjama and lungi.

Cuisines in Bengal

Boiled rice and roti constitute the staple Bengali food, and is served with a variety of vegetables, fried as well with curry, thick lentil soups, and fish, egg and meat preparations of mutton and chicken, and more rarely pork, duck, lamb and beef by certain groups.

Sweetmeats are mostly milk based, and consist of several delights including roshgulla, doi, sandesh, rasamalai, amriti, kalo jamun, pantua, rajbhog, gaja, bonde, pithe, mihidana, laddu and chom-chom.

Music and Dances of Bengal

The Baul tradition is a unique heritage of Bengali folk music, while Gombhira, Bhawaiya, kirtans, and Gajan festival music are also other folk music. Bengal dance form are Chau dance, Gaudiya Nritya.

Famous tourist attraction

Tourist spots in West Bengal are Darjeeling, Toy Train, Cooch Behar Palace, Dooars, Jaldapara National Park, Gorumara National Park, Howrah Bridge, Belur Math Shrine, Botanical Gardens, Victoria Hall.

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