FESTIVALS OF WEST BENGAL
The festivals of Bengal evoke an ambience of religious fervor, observance of traditional rituals, participation of all and sundry. Among festivals of West Bengal, Durga Puja and Ganga Sagar Mela hold tremendous prominence. In January the Ganga Sagar Mela is held at Sagar, south of Kolkata, where the river Hoogly joins the sea. Vast numbers of pilgrims bathe in the holy waters. These festivals also attract a large number of tourists to partake in vivid Indian regional festivals of India, especially Bengal.
Gangasagar Mela: Pilgrims congregate to bath on Sagar Island, about 64 Kms. (40 miles) from Diamond Harbour at the confluence of ri8ver Ganga with the water of the Bay of Bengal. A fair is also held.
Ramakrishna Utsav (February/March): Ramakrishna, a great Hindu saint, was born on February 20, 1833, in the village of Kamarpukar. Swami Vivekanand was one of his disciples, who instituted the famous Ramakrishna Mission which is responsible for spreading the cult of Vedanta all over the World. Ramakrishna's birth anniversary is celebrated by his devotees with great solemnity.
Dol Purnima (March/April): This festival is much the same as Holi in the other part of North India. An image of Krishna, smeared with coloured powders, is placed in a dol or swaying cradle decorated with flowers and carried in a procession to the accompaniment of songs, specially composed for the occasion. Being also the birthday of Gauranga or Chaiyanya Mahaprabhu, a sixteenth century Vaishanavite poet of saint, it assumes special significance for the followers of Vishnu.
Naba Barsha: Bengali New Year's Days (April14): The day begins with prabhat pheries ( early morning procession), song and dance to welcome the New Year. A dip of the river or tank is another essential feature of the day's rituals. With powdered rice, the house-wife makes beautiful designs called alpana on the floor.