Bengal celebrates New Year with panache

April 14th, 2008 - 5:34 pm ICT by admin  

By Sreya Basu
Kolkata, April 14 (IANS) The Bengali calendar turned 1415 Monday…and Bengal celebrated its New Year’s Day combining tradition with novelty. The celebration was flagged off as the Indo-Bangladesh Moitree (friendship) Express started its maiden run to Dhaka from Chitpur Station here. The train has resumed service after 43 years. The train from Dhaka is scheduled to reach Kolkata Monday night.

Eminent author Sunil Gongapoadhyaya said: “This train reminds me of early days when I frequently used to travel to Khulna in Bangladesh from Sealdah station here. This train has made this New Year really special for us.”

The surprise package of the day came from Kolkata Police. As soon as any civilian stepped into any police station of this metropolis Monday, (s)he was welcomed with roses and soft drinks.

Kolkata Police Commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakravarty told IANS: “This is just an effort from our side to show that we are friends and well-wishers of the public. The cost of the flowers and the beverages will be borne from our personal funds.”

There were the usual 5-km queue of about 20,000 people outside the temples at Kalighat and Dakshineswar respectively - with devotees praying for prosperity throughout the year.

Most traders in Bengal take this first day of the year as the beginning of their trade year as well. On this day they worship their new sales register (known as “hal khata”). Any regular customer walking into a shop can expect sweets and soft drinks.

Filmmaker Aparna Sen said: “Nowadays we don’t even need a reason for celebration. But in spite of cross-culture and globalisation Bengali New Year will always have its distinguished flavour. Even when I am abroad and it’s “Poila Boishakh” I can literally smell “payesh” and other sweets. Perhaps this is the sweetness of Bengal that the world talks about.”

With the entire city in holiday mood, multiplexes and amusement parks did roaring business.

Shopping, eating out or attending parties emceed by DJs - this city has never been so busy on a working Monday.

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