In case you are wondering why I am three and a half months late… well, today is the New Year’s Day in West Bengal (the state I come from in India). It is the year 1428 for us.
And if you are wondering why we celebrate three and a half months late… this might help…
(adapted from a post from seven years back)
Today is New Year’s Day for us – the Bengalis. If you were not aware, we, the Bengalis originate from a small state in the Eastern part of India intuitively called “West Bengal”.
You might be wondering why do we celebrate New Year’s in the middle of April. To understand that, you have to have a deep appreciation for who we are.
First, and foremost, we hate cold weather. “Thanda legey jaabey” (“Thou shalt catch a cold”) is the most commonly uttered full Bengali sentence. (I believe closely followed by “Ombol hoyechhe” – that is a story for another day). The mercury has to hover somewhere around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and we promptly adorn our heads with monkey caps (a prehistoric version of the ski mask). With a pompom on the top, to boot!
Most of January we are under our “lep toshok” (quilts) – and that one pair of socks we seem to have a love affair with. Way too deep to come out and even remotely consider 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” (sleeveless vest) goes just about 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 almost all such resolutions somehow need us to go to 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 “rosogollas”, 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. On that front, 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 January (Oh! the irony!!), “Saraswati Pujo” in February, “Dol” in March, “Pochise Boisakh” in May and so on and so forth. April is the only month we had nothing. And lo and behold!- we chose April for our New Year’s! 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!
Plus it is always a great sport to debate over which saree or “kurta” to wear while our American brethren toil the midnight oil to file their taxes!!
There! You have it now!!