Pohela/Poila Boishakh (Bengali New Year Bengali, Bangla Nôbobôrsho) is the first day of the Bengali
celebrated on 14 April or 15 April in Bangladesh and in the Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura by the Bengali people and also by minor Bengali communities in other Indian states, including Assam, Jharkhand and Orrisa. It coincides with the New Year’s days of numerous Southern Asian calendars like Tamil new year Puthandu. The traditional greeting for Bengali New Year is শুভ নববর্ষ “Shubhô Nôbobôrsho” which is literally “Happy New Year”.
The Bengali New Year begins at dawn, and the day is marked with singing, processions, and fairs. Traditionally, businesses start this day with a new ledger, clearing out the old.
People of Bangladesh enjoy a national holiday on Poila Boishakh. All over the country people can enjoy fairs and festivals. Singers perform traditional songs welcoming the new year. People enjoy classical jatra plays.
Like other festivals of the region, the day is marked by visiting relatives, friends and neighbors. People prepare special dishes for their guests.
The festivities from the deep heartland of Bengal have now evolved to become vast events in the cities, especially the capital Dhaka.
In Dhaka and other large cities, the festivals begin with people gathering under a big tree. People also find any bank of a lake or river to witness the sunrise. Artists present songs to welcome the new year, particularly with Rabindranath Tagore’s well-known song “Esho, he Boishakh”.
People from all spheres of life wear classic Bengali dress. Women wear saris with their hair bedecked in flowers. Likewise, men prefer to wear panjabis. A huge part of the festivities in the capital is a vivid procession organized by the students and teachers of Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka.
Of the major holidays celebrated in Bangladesh and West Bengal, only Pôila Boishakh comes without any preexisting expectations. Unlike Eid ul-Fitr and Durga Pujo, where dressing up in lavish clothes has become a norm, or Christmas where exchanging gifts has become an essential part, Pôila Boishakh is about celebrating the simpler, rural heartland roots of the Bengal.