15 April 2014

Funny Bone: Origin of the Bengali New Year :-)

Today is New Year’s Day for us Bengalis. If you were not aware, we, the Bengalis originate from a small state in the eastern part of India appropriately called “West Bengal” (and also Bangladesh).

You might be wondering why do we celebrate New Year’s in the middle of April. To understand that, you have to understand the top three characteristics of us Bengalis.

First, and foremost, we hate cold weather. “Thanda legey jaabey” (Thou shalt catch a cold) is the most commonly uttered full Bengali sentence. By far. The mercury has to hover somewhere around 80 degrees and we promptly adorn our heads with monkey caps (kind of a prehistoric version of ski mask). With a pompom on the top, to boot! Most of January we are under our “lep toshak” (quilts). Way too deep to come out and consider even remotely celebrating New Year’s. Mid April, on the other hand is nice and toasty in the high 80s. Which, is the perfect weather to come out and celebrate. A half sweater goes fine with that weather and celebrations.

Second, we are a little overwhelmed by the concept of New Year’s resolutions made on January 1st. Especially, since 73% of all such resolutions somehow need us to be in the gym. Gyms and us get along as well as the Kardashians and the concept of staying married. We simply don’t understand the unholy haste to sweat ourselves to death in the gym. We get enough practice in our crowded buses and trying to chase the crows away from the food on our balconies. We are doing just fine with our rice and rosogolla, thank you very much!

And third, we need our regular festivals and the associated one week casual leave from work every month. When it comes to actually working and the work hours, the French have nothing on us. We scoff at the concept that they waste their parliament’s valuable time passing laws limiting work to only 20 hours a week. That way we are very self reliant. We do that ourselves without needing any stupid laws to help us. For every month we have our earmarked festival – New Year’s in Jan, Saraswati Pujo in Feb, Dol in March, Pochise Boisakh in May and so on and so forth. April is the only month we had nothing. And thus, we chose April – and to be fair to the bordering months, we chose bang in the middle of the month of April to celebrate our New Year’s!

There! You have it now!!

Posted April 15, 2014 by Rajib Roy in category "Humor


  1. By Shakti Bhushan on

    Growing up in Tatanagar amongst other bengali kids, i can relate with this.

    Infact, i can add following (without any malice)

    27 Reasons Why Growing Up Bong Was The Best Thing Ever

    1. As a kid, you were maniacal for half marks in your test papers.
    2.You are well trained in detecting uninvited foreign bodies like mosha & tik-tiki.
    3. You were conditioned to believe that you could survive the Apocalypse armed with a file of Gelusil and a tube of Boroline.
    4. You have grown up worshipping nolen gur.
    5. “Onek hoyeche, ebar porte bosho” was your childhood anthem.
    6. As a mischievous kid, you have faced some real lovable words like bandor & bandraami.
    7. You have a serious, committed relationship with botaam & septi-pin.
    8. Only you know the magic of the afternoon nap.
    9. Winters are not complete unless you have overloaded on 55 sweaters. (No monkey cap jokes, people.)
    10. Your Sundays were & are all about maangsho-bhaat (mutton rice).
    11. ‘Kemon aacho’ will always be greeted by “ei cholche”.
    12. The gift always comes first. Then comes bhai-phota.
    13. You have been bred to appreciate, acknowledge, love, drink & believe in Horlicks. And in some cases, Ovaltine.
    14. You have been reminded time & again, how a day has ‘chhobish ghonta’ and what all can be & has not been achieved in that.
    15. You have learned never to respond to your old uncle asking you ‘chinte parcho’. Because once you act squeaky & say yes, you’ll be counter-asked the most deadly question, ‘aami ke bolo toh?’ & your life will fall like a pack of cards.
    16. You’ve been forever scarred, since childhood, because you were called ‘Poltu’.
    17. Distance is never kilometres. It’s always in minutes.
    18. You need a kol baalish for a peaceful sleep.
    19. Family get-togethers are incomplete without ‘gorment’, politics, sports & entertainment debates and each person is somehow right without agreeing with one another.
    20. No matter how much you study, you will always hear the golden words ‘aamar chhele toh porei na’.
    21. Even if you are almost dead after a heavy meal, you should be ready for the world’s most innocent question: Pet bhore kheyechis toh?
    22. Every Bong faces the Spondylosis attack at some point in his or her life.
    23. Poshto, begun bhaaja, khichudi & paapad are god’s food on a rainy day.
    24. Luchi makes you dance with joy.
    25. Your non-bong friends don’t follow your bong humour.
    26. You take immense pride in the fact that the Bong concept of ‘neykamo’ can never be translated in any other language.
    27. And lastly, all of these made your childhood awesome.

  2. By Sibapriya Dasgupta on

    Actually Rajib, the time mid-April is not unique for the state of West Bengal(India) or Bangladesh! The Baisakh (mid-April) ushers in the beginning of a new agricultural cycle in these parts of the country.” Baisakhi” , a harvest festival celebrated traditionajlly on the 13th of April every year mark the Punjabi new year.Vishu in Kerala and Rangoli Bihu of Assam also fall around the same time.Tamil Nadu’s Put handy Vazthukal to name a few are no exception. And, even the Britishers, who were here for close to 200 years could not bear the oppressive heat and shifted their summer capital to the cool lap of the Himalayas! I personally feel that we Indians spend most of our energies acclimatising ourselves with frequent climatic changes that is a constant every year. The hot and humid climate dominates and it is a known fact that you work well in a cool, even cold environment. And Bengalis enjoy the winter months, I am sure!

  3. By Seshukumar Tirumala on

    Well said, Rajib. It is equally applicable to most of Indian states – Ugadi in andhra and Karnataka, Vishu in tamilnadu and kerala, gudi padwa in Maharashtra etc.


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