Bengalis around the world are all set to welcome their new year on April 15 this year. Bengali New Year or Noboborsho/Poila Boishak is a special day that also marks the beginning of the Bengali financial year. It is celebrated with full fervour on the first day in the month of Baishak, according to the lunisolar calendar.
People spend this day by often going to the temple in the morning, seeking blessing from God for a good year ahead. Merchants and traders go to temples and conduct special puja at their shops and godowns to pray for prosperity and good fortune. In fact, most people visit shops on this day to start a new account for the year ahead and settle old accounts. The practice dates back to the 18th century, when Mughal governor Nawab Murshid Quli Khan had the tradition of Punyaho (a day for ceremonial land-tax collection).
This day also works as a perfect time for a family reunion. Many wear new clothes and exchange sweets. Homes are decorated with alponas (rangoli), and mango leaves garlands are put up at the main entrance. In some families, they boil milk and let it spill as it signifies overflowing of wealth and good luck.
An elaborate meal is prepared where something bitter like shukto is consumed first and finished off with desserts like payesh or malpua. Not to forget the meal is incomplete without fish — be it hilsa, bhetki or prawns.
Though with passing time, some rituals have changed, nothing beats the love of Bengalis for a sumptuous meal. So, even if no other ritual is followed, people love to indulge in special food on this day.