Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bengali New Year

Its been a while since I blogged.

I dont blog until something really strikes a nerve....And this time this article in a Bangladeshi Newspaper did it for me. The Daily Star

Pohela or Poila Boishakh, generally falls around the 14th or the 15th of April every year, and marks the Bengali New Year.

On this day, Bengalis dress up in traditional Bengali saris, the women make sweets generally made out of rice flour (these kinds of sweets are called pithes and pulis)...There are numerous kinds of this variation, and traditional households see their mothers and grandmothers getting together days in advance to start the Puli Making festival.

Cultural events are spread throughout the cities, families get together for gift giving, eating and most importantly EATING.

Unfortunately, the border that runs through Bangladesh and West Bengal, India makes observing this tradition kind of difficult. As the article outlines, Siblings havent seen each other in decades, families lose track of one another and loved ones drift apart.

Yes, theres exists a VISA application system, but its pretty pricey to a low income family. Ive witnessed the line ups outside the Indian Visa Application Centre (Yes, they actually have a separate centre). The line ups run up to the front door from both sides, each line has upwards of about 500 people, EVERYDAY.

You're left to wonder, if its like this on the Eastern border, what is it like on the Indian-Pakistani border? I have never seen images like this before in Indian newspapers. Why is that? Is it to shield people from having the residual feelings of partition swell up again?

Why cant we have a system in all three countries, where people can be brought together during major occasions? Is it really that difficult?


  1. very nice. i had been looking forward to more dispatches from b'desh but there was none after the first one.

    have heard it is a charming country and much prettier than west bengal which india got after the partition. Is it true?


  2. guess the core issue is a trust deficit amongst the neighbors....the partition was so sad and unnecessary anyway.

  3. It actually is quite pretty. The green is sooooo green...I really want to go back soon, but time may not permit it until later!