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Bengalis eagerly await Saraswati Puja every year. But it's more for the love in the air than the pujo. Here's why Saraswati Pujo beats Valentine's day hands down.

Saraswati Puja couple. Source ~ weddingphotosutra.com
Saraswati Puja couple. Source ~ weddingphotosutra.com

Bengalis eagerly await Saraswati Puja every year. Well, if you think it is for the ‘Pujo’ and the ‘Prasad’, then you ma’am/sir are very boka. Saraswati Puja is held every year right around Valentine’s Day and we Bongs celebrate this day not just for Maa Saraswati’s blessings but also to celebrate PREM to the fullest. You ask how it’s better than Valentine’s Day? Well …

  1. It’s Spring!

Saraswati Puja is a time when we all welcome spring. Spring is Bosonto and Bosonto means love. The chilly weather starts defrosting, flowers start blooming, birds start singing and love starts brewing. People even start humming ‘Bosonto Ese Geche’. Anupam Roy was definitely singing about his adolescence when he composed that song.

Bosonto ese geche. Source ~ flickr.com
Bosonto ese geche. Source ~ flickr.com
  1. No Books, Only Love

The first thing that your parents tell you on Saraswati Puja – Ajke boi porte hobe na – No studying today. Imagine that! Well, even the students with upcoming exams are allowed to skip. By surrendering the books at Ma Saraswati’s feet, the youth unlock one brilliant day of mingling with friends and going out with the one girl/boy who makes their heart race.

No books on this day. Source ~ discoveredindia.com
No books on this day. Source ~ discoveredindia.com
  1. Decked up Girls and Boys

Be it the girls or the boys, everyone is at their traditional best on this day. Women in beautiful Basanti sarees and men in traditional pajama-panjabis. We Bongs deck up to impress the opposite sex  and of course  our Premiks and Premikas. Some of the best sights are the young teenagers awkwardly trying to carry off their saree or dhuti but still looking cute as hell.

Girls in sarees out on Saraswati Puja. Source ~ magicalassam.com
Girls in sarees out on Saraswati Puja. Source ~ magicalassam.com
  1. No Prying Eyes

This day, no one seems to follow your steps or comment on your Shaj-Shajja. Everyone roams around in their own rhythm. The boys don’t have to wait for long hours outside their girlfriend’s tuition classes to say Hi or to hold her hand for a fleeting moment. This day, every Bong pair is free to walk hand in hand lost in their own love stories.

Couples' day out. Source ~ magicalassam.com
Couples’ day out. Source ~ magicalassam.com
  1. No rules

We Bongs don’t need the permission of our parents to stay out on this day, after all it is Saraswati Puja. Be it going to schools and colleges and after that those tuition classes or the lovers’ park, we remain outside for as long as we decide.

Couples at Millennium Park. Source ~ travel.snydle.com
Couples at Millennium Park. Source ~ travel.snydle.com
  1. Pocket Full

We Bengalis save up money for months to spend on this day. And for what you ask? Of course for the Puchkas and the Chaat Papri to impress the damsel in a beautiful BASANTI saree. Although, nowadays it has advanced to movie tickets and visit to amusement parks, the idea remains the same. Save up money, spend it on your beloved and the day has a happy ending.

Couple in a movie hall
Couple in a movie hall
  1. Singles’ paradise

If you are single, then Saraswati Puja is your annual salvation. Yes, on Saraswati Puja every single Bong’s probability of finding true love skyrockets. If you are lucky, even two to three true loves are not unheard of. My bondhu, you shall not run out of eligible or sundori options on this day.

Girls in sarees on Saraswati Puja. Source ~ flickr.com
Girls in sarees on Saraswati Puja. Source ~ flickr.com
  1. Best day for the perfect date

Be it the parks, the restaurants, the theatres, the malls, you will find great options to hang out with your loved one on Saraswati Puja. For God’s sake, even the school and tuition places turn a blind eye to the corny couples in the corners. This is the day, when Bong love blooms and PDA is not frowned upon.

A date at the Rabindra Sarobar lake
A date at the Rabindra Sarobar lake
  1. Meeting New People

This day, you just don’t hang out in your school or college. This day, you roam like a wild tiger in other schools and colleges. We Bongs meet new people, new faces and obviously, meeting new people means new connections, exchange of WhatsApp contacts, long chats and hopefully love!

Make new friends. Source ~ swworldtour.com
Make new friends. Source ~ swworldtour.com
  1. A Great Day to finally profess your love

Most of us Bongs make it a point to open up about our feelings to the one we love on Saraswati Puja. Te weather is superb, the ambience is right, the beloved is in a blissful mood, no one is after you to study, so why wait? There goes the proposal and well, pray hard that the answer is a lajuk smile and a heart warming YES!

Professed your love yet. Source ~ filmbeat.com
Professed your love yet. Source ~ filmbeat.com

 

Saraswati Puja was, is and will be the original Valentine’s Day for us lovelorn Bongs. And if you have anything more to add to the list, feel free to comment. Happy Valentine’s Day! Oops, Happy Saraswati Puja to all.
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Did you know about the Chinese newspaper & the Chinese Kali Bari? With the Chinese New Year just around the corner, we celebrate the interesting Chinese history of Kolkata.

Chinatown Kolkata. Source ~ abcnews.goChinatown Kolkata. Source ~ abcnews.goChinatown Kolkata. Source ~ abcnews.go
Chinatown Kolkata. Source ~ abcnews.go

HISTORY OF MIGRATION

In the late 18th century a Chinese tea trader by the name of Tong Achew landed near present day Budge–Budge on the banks of the Hooghly. Governor General Warren Hastings granted 650 Bighas of land for an annual rent of Rs.45 to Achew to set up a sugarcane plantation and sugar factory. Achew brought in a band of Chinese workers to work in his plantation and factory, thus forming the first Chinese settlement in India.

The tomb on Tong Achew in Achipur. Source ~ bawalifarmhouse.com
The tomb on Tong Achew in Achipur. Source ~ bawalifarmhouse.com

LOCATIONS

The place came to be known as Achipur after Tong Achew. Only a Chinese Temple and Achew’s horseshoe shaped grave is left of it. Once every year, on the Sunday after Chinese New Year, the Chinese of Calcutta make a pilgrimage to Achipur to pay tribute to the man, who started the first Chinese settlement in India more than 230 years ago. His workers left for the city of Calcutta and moved to the centre of Calcutta, where they settled in Tiretta Bazar. Later, when the tanneries were shifted to Tangra on the eastern part of the city, a large section of Calcuttan Chinese moved to form the New Chinatown.

Chinese Devotees light candles, Achipur Chinese Temple. Source ~ rangandatta.wordpress.com
Chinese Devotees light candles, Achipur Chinese Temple. Source ~ rangandatta.wordpress.com

CULTURE

The Chinese Breakfast is available for early-birds in the Chatawala Gali in Tiretta Bazar. The smell of delicacies like fish balls soup, momos, sausages, spring rolls, sweet buns and lot more wafts in the early morning air. Central Calcutta also has 7 Chinese temples or churches. There were 6 major Chinese communities in Calcutta and each built its own temple, attached to which was a social club that controlled a graveyard for the associated community. Read more about these temples here by Rangan Datta.

A Chinese church in Kolkata. Source ~ tripadvisor.com
A Chinese church in Kolkata. Source ~ tripadvisor.com

Now here are a few things we don’t think you knew about the Chinese history of Kolkata.

1) Chinatown

Kolkata is the only Indian city that has a clearly demarcated ‘Chinatown’, once home to 20,000 ethnic Chinese.

Chinatown, Tangra. Source ~ Wikimedia.org
Chinatown, Tangra. Source ~ Wikimedia.org

2) Oldest Chinese Resto

Nanking Restaurant established in 1924, is considered as the oldest Chinese Restaurant in Calcutta (Kolkata). Location:- Next to Kolkata Telephone Kendra, Near Indian Exchange Place (Extension).

Nanking Restaurant. A part of the Chinese history of kolkata. Source ~ telegraphindia.com
Nanking Restaurant. A part of the Chinese history of kolkata. Source ~ telegraphindia.com

3) Authentic Chinese Dishes

Another is Eau Chew-an 86 year old family run, fourth generation Chinese restaurant showcasing unadulterated Huang family recipes. This place serves original Chinese dishes.

Long journeys: (From left) Joel, Josephine and Jennifer Huang of Eau Chew. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint. Source ~ livemint.com
Long journeys: (From left) Joel, Josephine and Jennifer Huang of Eau Chew. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint. Source ~ livemint.com

4) Birthplace of the Kolkata-Chinese cuisine

Tangra/new Chinatown has its own special Chinese cuisine, more precisely it is the birthplace of Kolkata-Chinese cuisine. The community tweaked and improvised their food to suit the local Indian palate. This Kolkata-Chinese cuisine gained popularity all across the country. The best however, is still to be had at Kolkata’s Chinatown. We recommend Golden Joy.

Golden Joy, angra. Source ~ Tripadvisor.com
Golden Joy, Tangra. Source ~ Tripadvisor.com

5) Chinese Kali temple

The Chinese Kali temple in Tangra, Chinatown is a bridge between the Chinese & Indian communities. Sixty years back there were a couple of sindoor smeared black stones under an old tree. The story goes that a 10-year-old boy of the Chinese community was once very ill. His parents had lost hope and lay him down near the tree and prayed for several nights at a stretch. A miracle happened. The boy got well, and the site became special for the Chinese community. On Kali puja, rituals are all Hindu, but some Chinese traditions have also crept in. Tall candles, special Chinese incense sticks are lit and handmade paper is burnt to ward off evil spirits. For bhog, it is chop suey and noodles here.

Chinese Kali Temple, Kolkata. Source ~ indiaopines.com
Chinese Kali Temple, Kolkata. Source ~ indiaopines.com

6) A Chinese newspaper

There is a locally published Chinese newspaper(Mandarin language) called DaiLee.The circulation used to be 800,now it is 180.

One of the Chinese newspapers in circulation -Overseas Chinese Commerce of India. Source ~ Wikimedia.org
One of the Chinese newspapers in circulation -Overseas Chinese Commerce of India. Source ~ Wikimedia.org

7) Industry

The community in Kolkata is mainly involved in tea, leather, beauty parlours & restaurant businesses. Hand crafted shoes are sought out from the numerous Chinese owned stores in Bentinck Street & New Market.

Chinese shoe store in Bentinck Street, Kolkata. Source ~ Flickr.com
Chinese shoe store in Bentinck Street, Kolkata. Source ~ Flickr.com

8) On the silver screen

For the film-Byomkesh Bakshi the entire 1940’s Tiretta Bazar was recreated on the streets of Kolkata.

Byomksh in China Town. Souce ~ natgeotraveller.in/
Byomkesh in Chinatown. Souce ~ natgeotraveller.in

9) Wartime Woes

During Indo-China war of 1962, the then government headed by Nehru rounded up innocent Indian citizens of Chinese origin from Kolkata and interred them in camps in Rajasthan for years without any trial. The last internees were not released until 1967. Thousands more Chinese-Indians were forcibly deported or coerced to leave India. Nearly all internees had their properties sold off or looted. Even after their release, the Chinese-Indians faced many restrictions in their freedom. They could not travel freely until the mid-1990s.

Monica Liu in her restaurant in Kolkata. Suspected of being a spy, 9 year old Liu & her family were sent to detention camps in the deserts of Rajasthan. Source ~ dawn.com
Monica Liu in her restaurant in Kolkata. Suspected of being a spy, 9 year old Liu & her family were sent to detention camps in the deserts of Rajasthan. Source ~ dawn.com

10) Famous people

Meiyang Chаng: Indian actor and singer. Finalist for Indian Idol 3; Winner, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 4

Meiyang Chang. Source ~ filmysphere.com
Meiyang Chang. Source ~ filmysphere.com

Lawrence Liang: Indian legal researcher and lawyer.

Lawrence Liang. Source ~ wikimedia.org
Lawrence Liang. Source ~ wikimedia.org

Nelson Wang: Indian restaurateur and founder of  China Garden, Mumbai.

Nelson Wang. Source ~ theideaofindia.in
Nelson Wang. Source ~ theideaofindia.in

The Chinese community is dwindling in number because of migration for better prospects elsewhere. At one time,  Grace Ling Liang English School had 90% ethnic Chinese students. But by 2003 the number had come down to 15% of the 1500 students. Many of the Chinese of Kolkata are Christians. They have completely integrated into Kolkata society. However, they are largely disillusioned with the political leadership that only courts them during elections.

Considering their cultural, economic and historical contribution to the city of Kolkata, we believe the Chinese community deserves all our respect. We hope the government and citizens will extend attention and help in preserving their priceless heritage.

And finally, Gong Xi Fa Cai and Gong Hey Fat Choy to everyone. 

(For the uninitiated, we wished everyone a Happy New year in Mandarin & Cantonese)
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Marwaris and Bengalis in Kolkata have always had an undercurrent of mutual admiration. Here are a few things a Maru girl loves about her fellow Bongs

piku. Source ~ IBNLive.com
piku. Source ~ IBNLive.com

Bengali’s have their own way of life. And for the hosts of Marwaris staying in Kolkata in close ontact with the Bong culture, some of these idiosyncrasies are pretty jarring. But even though there exists this clear Bong-Maru divide in the city, an undercurrent of mutual admiration has always been present. Here are 8 such Bong things that a Marwari girl (like the author herself) is regularly amazed by.

1. The Bengali girls SMOKE!

It’s a big deal for a Maru to see Bengali girls smoking publicly. Maru moms never cease to make a comment “How unlady like and such bad culture”. They might just be unaware that their own daughters are doing it in private! Wink Wink!!

Bengali girls smoking. Source ~ mhkawsar.files.wordpress.com
Bengali girls smoking. Source ~ mhkawsar.files.wordpress.com

2. Experiencing the subtle little things!!

You will always hear a Maru say that bongs are lazy and not ambitious. However they admire how a Bengali enjoys the subtle little things which are more meaningful like ‘ a Gorom cha in the rains’ , ‘ an adda with friends’ or ‘a nice cultural event ‘.

Gorom Cha. Source ~ vak1969.wordpress.com
Gorom Cha. Source ~ vak1969.wordpress.com

3. The Musical Connection!!

Marwaris might not understand or speak Bengali that well, but they have a few favorite Bengali songs in their ipod which they appreciate it more than the Bengali’s themselves. They simply love Bangla gaan.. Bandhu chol, Amake amaar moton thakte dao..

Bondhu Chol! Source ~ 4.bp.blogspot.com
Bondhu Chol! Source ~ 4.bp.blogspot.com

4. Oh! The sweet ‘sweet tooth’.

The mouth-watering Bengali sondesh, nolen gur, and mishti dai are somethings which a Kolkata Maru cannot stay away from. They often crave it more than the Badam ka barfi and soan papdi.Yummm..

Bengali mishti. Source ~ 1.bp.blogspot.com
Bengali mishti. Source ~ 1.bp.blogspot.com

5. Its Durga puja and not Navratri!

During Durga Puja, on the streets of Kolkata you will not be able to differentiate between a Marwari or a Bengali. They dress up, they go pandal hopping, they love the late night para addas and the Bhasan. They might sneak in a night of dandiya but they are 101% into the Bong style Durga puja. When they leave Kolkata they travel back more during Pujas than Diwali.

Durga Puja Sydney. Source ~ indianlink.com.au
Durga Puja Sydney. Source ~ indianlink.com.au

6. Bangla Khawa!

Muri and aloo chop, Phuchka, Beguni and the Bengali kichudi.aloo posto. Ohhh!! Its a treat to have the bong food.. And u can see the Maru families enjoying Bengali platter @ 6 Ballygunge Place or Oh! Calcutta.

Bong Food
Bong Food. Source ~ gobengal.com

7.The Bong Girl look

The lal pad saree, or tater saree with sleeveless blouse, the beautiful big eyes highlighted with thick black kohl, beautifully made khonpa and the big red bindi! Marwari girls love dressing up like the Bong beauty and are so envious of the big beautiful eyes of theirs.

Sonakshi Sinha in Bengali attire
Sonakshi Sinha in Bengali attire. Source ~ chinkipinki.com

8.The so cute and understanding boys!! 

Irresistible and cute, protective but not possessive, caring and understanding Bengali chele.Their respect for girl’s independence, and their endearing nature has set many a Maru girls’ heart aflutter. Oh..we simply love their boyish charm.

Palash Sen woos Vidya Balan. Source ~ Youtube. Click the image & go check out the awesome video
Palash Sen woos Vidya Balan. Source ~ Youtube.

We wish the Bengali Marwari love story continues forever and we evolve together. Ansun aa gaye yaar...
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Bengali actresses have been known both as bold and beautiful. And here is our pick of the top 10 Bong actresses every Bengali should be proud of

Suchitra Sen. Source ~ rediff.com
Suchitra Sen. Source ~ rediff.com

Bengalis are very much associated with food, football and of course films. The film industry both in West Bengal and Bangladesh had flourished due to Bong’s love for movies. Talking about films, one can hardly avoid mentioning the contribution of Bengali actresses to the Indian industry. Tagged both as bold and beautiful, they have won many hearts from time immemorial, not just in Bengal but the whole country.

Here is our list of the ten most successful bong actresses of all time, without whom, the ‘Filmi Duniya’ wouldn’t have been the same.

Kanan Devi – Bengal’s Nightingale

Kanan Devi was popularly known as the first star of Bengali Cinema and was also credited as one of the first singing sensations of the Indian Film Industry. Originally from Howrah, West Bengal, Kanan Devi started her career from the age of 10. Post her breakthrough film Mukti, she became popular for her roles in movies like Vidyapati, Lagan, and Jawab. She even had the opportunity to be casted in Devdas, which did not happen after all, a decision she regretted all her life.

Kanan Devi. Source ~ kanandevi.com
Kanan Devi. Source ~ kanandevi.com

Suchitra Sen – Every Film Maker’s Muse

Roma Sengupta aka Suchitra Sen, was known for her million dollar smile, acting prowess and endless beauty. She was probably the most successful actress of Bengal and was known for her strong persona and brevity. Mrs Sen, the respectful title she is still referred to with, was the first among Bengali actresses to receive the Best Actress award in the Moscow Film Festival for her role in Saat Pake Badha. She was brave enough to reject Satyajit Ray’s films since she didn’t want to hurt her other directors who made her a star. She gave her best performance in cinemas like Devdas, Harano Sur, Saptapadi, Uttar Falguni and Andhi. Now, who can forget her classics with Uttam Kumar? Suchitra Sen known for her strong personality and of course an adamant attitude, so much so that after retiring from the screen, she not even once appeared in public again.

Suchitra Sen. Source ~ rediff.com
Suchitra Sen. Source ~ rediff.com

Madhabi Mukherjee – The Powerful Performer

Madhabi Mukherjee was not a core commercial actress, but she did garner critical acclaim for her roles in classic Bengali films. She made a great impact in the Bengali film industry through Tapan Sinha’s Tonsil, Mrinal Sen’s Baishey Sravan, Ritwik Ghatak’s Subarnorekha and Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar. Till this day, she is well known for playing the protagonist in the film Charulata by Satyajit Ray. A timeless actress, Madhabi Mukherjee, has been one of the most influential, strong and brave Bong Actors of all time because of her acting prowess, choice of films and personality, which sets her apart from her contemporaries.

Madhabi Mukherjee. Source ~ irishtimes.com
Madhabi Mukherjee.

Sabitri Chatterjee – The Amusing Actress

Sabitri had a 50 years long career in the Bengali Film industry and was well known for adding comic elements to her characters which was rare among actresses. She was probably the first Bengali actress to don a comical avatar on the silver screen. Her most popular movies along with Mahanayak Uttam Kumar include Bhranti Bilas, Mouchak and Dhanni Meye.

Sabitri-Chatterjee
Sabitri-Chatterjee

Sharmila Tagore – The Thriving Tigress

Hailing from the Tagore family, this actress is considered to be one of the brave pioneers of the Indian Film Industry for donning a swimsuit in the film – An Evening in Paris. Starting her career with the great Satyajit Ray with films like Apur Sansar and Devi, she went onto make become a big name in Bollywood through movies such as Aradhana and Amar Prem. Why do we consider her as a legendary Bong Actress – because she ruled the Bombay film industry for a decade with 57 films in her kitty apart from being the Chairperson of Central Board of Film Certification.

Sharmila Tagore. Source ~ utsavpedia.com
Sharmila Tagore. Source ~ utsavpedia.com

Aparna Sen – Beauty with Brains

Apart from having the privilege to work with the likes of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen, Aparna Sen, Bengal’s diva, went on to become the first female Bengali film director. She acted in numerous films, starting with Ray’s Teen Kanya and paired up with Soumitra to give timeless hits like – Basanta Bilap and Baksa Badal. Her first directorial debut won her the award for the Best Director in Indian National Film Awards. Her notable films as a director include – Mr. & Mrs. IyerParomitar Ek Din, and The Japanese Wife.

Aparna Sen
Aparna Sen

Bobita – Beloved Bangldeshi

Farida Akhtar Poppy, better known as Bobita is considered as one of the most successful Bangladeshi actresses. Her acting skills drew the attention of Satyajit Ray and thus she was casted in Ashoni Sanket in1973, a timeless classic, for which she won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival. Today, she owns her own production company in Bangladesh.

Bobita in Ashoni Sanketh. Source ~ thedailystar.net
Bobita in Ashoni Sanket. Source ~ thedailystar.net

Mousumi Chaterjee – The Bubbly ‘Badhu’

Mousumi was known as the ‘Chulbuli’ of the Indian Film Industry and was celebrated for her on screen charisma and pomp. She started her career at the age of 15 with ‘Balika Badhu’, got married while studying in class 10 and then made a breakthrough with the Hindi film Anuraag. After that there was no looking back. She acted in numerous successful hindi movies, starring opposite superstars like Vinod Khanna, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, and Vinod Mehra. Her well known Bengali films include –Anindita, Ogo Bodhu Sundori, The Japanese Wife and Goynar Baksho. She recently made everyone understand that her acting skills are evergreen through her magnetic performance in Piku.

Moushumi Chatterjee. Source ~ rediff.com
Moushumi Chatterjee. Source ~ rediff.com

Debashree Roy – Dancing Diva

Debashree started her career as child artist Kumari Chumki and went on to win a National Film Award for Best Actress for her role in Unishe April. She is an aclaimed Odissi dancer and has her own dancing school – Nataraj. Debashree is a prolific actress, both in parallel & commercial films. She even acted in the epic Mahabharata by B.R Chopra. She has more than 100 Bengali films to her name , received more than 40 awards and even acted in a number of Tamil movies. Apart from being an actress, she is also an MLA now.

Debashree Roy
Debashree Roy

Rituparna Sengupta – Bold and Beautiful

Rituparna’s success in both commercial and parallel films has set her miles apart from her contemporaries. Rituparna is known for portraying bold & sensuous characters, an attempt many contemporary actresses have avoided. Her acting skills have won her the Best Actress National award for Dahan. She also won the FIlmfare critics’ choice award for Best Actress for Alikh Sukh.

Rituparna Sengupta. Source ~ moviemagik.in
Rituparna Sengupta.

Now, that you have met the most successful Bengali actresses of all time, you can either try watching their films in the chilly wintery evenings with a ‘gorom chaa’ or can just dream about these beauties with your eyes open. And do let us know if we missed one of your favorite stars.

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A Non-Resident Bong in Kolkata experiences the unique Bengali idiosyncrasies for the first time. Here are 6 of those hilarious and confusing things an NRB faces.

NRB. Source ~ hamaraphotos.com
NRB. Source ~ hamaraphotos.com

Bengalis are enterprising and adventurous. We love experiences and sometimes settle outside Bong lands in India and make it our own. With years, these non-resident Bongs imbibe the local culture, but also try to retain their Bangaliyana. [ NOTE: The Non-Resident Bong (NRB) is not to be confused with the Non-resident Bideshi Bongs (NRBBs).] Sometimes, these probashis come to the City of Joy for jobs or education or just to enjoy Kolkatar jol-bataash. The first few days or weeks can be very confusing for these Bongs who have lived in Bihar or Assam or even the Andaman & Nicobar Islands for a major part of their lives.

So, if you are an NRB (like the writer), here are the first six confusing experiences you will encounter in Kolkata.

1) You try to grasp the Theory of Lyadh (and why does everyone love to eat it)

Lyadh. The unofficial Bong addition to the laws of motion.

Big B's Lyadh in Kolkata. Source ~ india.com
Big B’s Lyadh in Kolkata. Source ~ india.com

2) The proverbs and idioms used frequently by Kolkata peeps confuse you

Because, probably you spoke either Assamese or Hindi for most part of your life.

Enchor e Paka! Dumerer phool! Ghora dingiye ghaas khawa! 

What’s with the fauna and flora, dude? Could we leave the jackfruit alone?

The jackfruit. Source ~ npr.org
The jackfruit. Source ~ npr.org

3) And let’s not talk about the mind boggling number of Bangaali Khistis

Each day is a discovery. Day One: G@#$% -> Day Two: B^K*C%^&A.

Life is Khishtiful!

Khistiful life of a Non-Resident Bong. Source ~mmedia.me
Khistiful life of a Non-Resident Bong. Source ~mmedia.me

4) You don’t get it when people make fun of your accent or choice of words

You: “Come on, I’ve lived in another state for nearly two decades! Of course my Bangla will be influenced by another language.”

Them: “B^K* C%^&^A

That' s not Bangla. Source ~ ibnlive.in
That’s not Bangla. Source ~ ibnlive.in

5) The Ghoti vs Bangal shouting matches irritate you.

You don’t get it because back home everyone in the small Bengali community was after all Bangaali! You tell your Kolkata friends to get over it, but they call you G#$%*. (By this time, you know what G#$%* means.)

Ghoti vs Bangal. Source ~ thehindu.com
Ghoti vs Bangal. Source ~ thehindu.com

6) And….You struggle for an answer when they ask you the dreaded question: “Tui MOHUN BAGAN na EAST BENGAL”.

By this time you have come to know the ways of the Kolkata Bong. So, you ask them instead, “Bangali cinemar DVD kinbo. Ritwik na Satyajit?” You start a civil war but you save your chamra.

Mohun bagan na East Bengal. Source ~ kolktaalive.com
Mohun bagan na East Bengal. Source ~ kolktaalive.com

Bottomline: It’s fun to re-experience your city through the eyes of these NRBs. Now, go, go find the nearest NRB and see what she has to add to this list of experiences.

 

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We are "Bangali". And we love "maach". But then there are Bengalis who turn vegetarians. Here are 7 things this rare breed of NIRAMISH Bengalis experience.

Vegetarian Mane???Source ~ http://bollywoodbangkok.com/
Vegetarian Mane???Source ~ http://bollywoodbangkok.com/

We are “Bangali”. And we love “maach“. Period. We love maach so much that we even put it on the logos of the websites we run. But then there are some Bengalis (including the writer of this niramish post) who choose to become vegetarian. Yeah! You heard us right. It’s a mammoth struggle for a person who has been brought up on a non-vegetarian diet to turn vegetarian. But for a Bong, this struggle is tougher than bringing back Matt Damon from a galaxy far, far away.

Here are a few things this rare breed of Niramish Bengalis experience.

1) “Ei tui Bangali na?” Your family and friends start questioning your Bongness.

I have no clue. I feel Tamil on weekdays, Spanish on Saturdays and German on Sundays.

TUI BANGALI NA???? Source ~ bollywoodbangkok.com
TUI BANGALI NA???? Source ~ bollywoodbangkok.com

2) It becomes neighbourhood news. Parar boudis and dadas come up with conspiracy theories.

“Ei, Kaverir chele ‘bhej’ hoye geche. Bodhoy Belur e Maharaj howar icche. Tar upor Narendrapur e poreche.”

Kill Me.

Parar gossip. Source ~ photoshelter.com
Parar gossip. Source ~ photoshelter.com

3) The Bangali biye-baari season with loads of food means little for your plate.

Your friends binge on three kinds of fish and two kinds of meat, while you have to be happy with your mishti polau and chanar kofta.

“Dada aro 6-ta kofta din to !!”

The micro-spread for veggies. Source ~ thebigfatindianwedding.com
The micro-spread for veggies. Source ~ thebigfatindianwedding.com

4) Because you are a true Bengali and you still love food, you diligently list places which serve good “niramish” food.

You turn to that Marwari friend for recommendations.

“Govinda’s er thali ta bhalo ache.”

Vegetarian hali to the rescue. Source ~ hotelannapurna.net
Vegetarian thali to the rescue. Source ~ hotelannapurna.net

5) Them: “Maach khabina? Chokher power bere jabe.”

Fish. The Kryptonite of your neighbourhood chosmar dokan.

The specs. Source ~ Wikimedia.org
The specs. Source ~ Wikimedia.org

6) “Biye kake korbi? Kono Bangalir sontaan toke biye korbena.”

I’ll start a VegetarianMatrimony.com. #StartUpIndia er naam shunecho ?

The Bengali biye. Source ~ missionsharingknowledge.com
The Bengali biye. Source ~ missionsharingknowledge.com

7) You also realise the sheer amount of tempting vegetarian dishes in Bengali cuisine.

Ah! Koraishutir Kochuri with Alur Dum to jazz up Sunday mornings. Bliss.

Kochuri! Ahhhh. Source ~ blogspot.com/
Kochuri! Ahhhh. Source ~ blogspot.com/

After all is said and done, it isn’t so bad being a Bong Vegetarian after all. To each her/his own paturi.

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A college campus in College Street, Kolkata has a different charm. Here are 7 things that you will relate to if your college was in Boi Para.

College Street Coffee House
College Street Coffee House

College Street!

The name itself brings so many warm memories gushing into your mind. College Street offers so much – the smell of old/new/tattered books, the touch of old Calcutta, College Square, Indian Coffee house and so much more. Ah! Yes, there are innumerable colleges in Kolkata and most of them are great, but a college campus in Boi Para/College Street has a different charm. If you are or ever were a college student in Kolkata and that too in College Street then these are the 7 things that you will surely relate to.

  1. The old and cold college buildings

None of the college campuses in and around College Street are less than 100 years old. The large classrooms, old desks, arched doorways, long corridors & British architecture was a pride for you. On a scorching summer afternoon the cool refuge of a classroom in one of these buildings became your sanctum sanctorum.

Presidency_corridor. Source ~ commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
Presidency_corridor. Source ~ commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
  1. You get to hangout among books

If you are a book lover (or even if you are not) the sight of books all around you is sure to lift your spirits. Even if you didn’t have anything else to do, just browsing around the shops and asking for various books in their collection was an excellent time-pass. And the knowledgeable shopkeepers were an added bonus – they could recommend some of the best reads, once you started chatting with them. And everyone had that one favorite bookstore where you were treated like an old friend.

A college street bookstore
A college street bookstore
  1. The Indian Coffee House

Coffee House used to be your favorite hangout. Bunking classes and having a free-spirited, high octane adda with your friends among the memories of greats who had once graced the tables here, gave you that undeniable sense of pride & belonging. A cup of Infusion or a Kabiraji was your fetish cuisine with the little pocket money you had.

Coffee house. Source ~ Flickr.com
Coffee house. Source ~ Flickr.com
  1. The Paramount Shorbot

The best way of beating the sultry heat of Kolkata were the customized sharbats (Juices) of Paramount – an almost century old shop that is an institution in itself. The dab sherbat is probably the most sought after glass in this part of the city!

Paramount. Source ~ Blogspot.com
Paramount. Source ~ Blogspot.com
  1. The stationeries

Not only the bookstores, but the shops that offered stationery in College Street also brought out the lost child in you. One of your deepest your desires was the useless urge for buying a pen or even a nicely created pencil when you saw them all arranged together on the store fronts.

Stationeries. Source ~ hunt.in
Stationeries. Source ~ hunt.in
  1. The frequent Tram rides

Getting a tram from one corner of M.G Road and getting down somewhere on the way was a common source of relaxed sauntering for you. You had so much time and trams were the best way to go around this part of the city.

Tram in College Street. Source ~ munemwasif.com
Tram in College Street. Source ~ munemwasif.com
  1. A break at the College Square:

It used to be tough finding a seat in College Square. But once you had that bit of empty space for your gang, you would settle in for addas that lasted hours. You often bunked classes just to sit there and snack on some Dal Bora (lentil fries) and talk about college politics or heartbreaks.

 

College square. Source ~ Ghumakkar.com
College square. Source ~ Ghumakkar.com

The smell and the aroma of this beautiful place called College Street has taken it far beyond just an alley of old book stores. It holds great memories, a million coming-of-age tales, the “college-prem” and the serendipity of being a college student.

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Jadavpur University is after all a campus like none other. Here are 10 things only JU students will relate to and cherish forever.

Jadavpur University. Source ~ outlookindia.com
Jadavpur University. Source ~ outlookindia.com

Jadavpur University is after all a campus like none other. For more than half a century, it has been the wellspring of youth of talent, eccentricity, genius & an immense amount of cojones. Here we celebrate JU’s unique idiosyncrasies and quirks that every student who ever walked through the haloed campus will feel nostalgic about.

1. “Ke Re Bhai!”

Forget “What the F^*#!”. In JU, every unnatural, disgusting or monumental phenomena or the weird soul engaging in a peculiar activity is greeted with these three words. As far as JU is concerned, no word or cluster of word beats the potency and appropriateness of “Ke re bhai!”. Thanks to JU alumni, this phrase is now a regular part of Bengali colloquy.

Ke Re Bhai. Source ~ Facebook
Ke Re Bhai. Source ~ Facebook

2. “<class, test, lab> kete geche!”

Well, “That calls for a Carlsberg”, like literally! It’s the job of the faculties to schedule classes, assignments or exams and it’s the job of the Class Representative to see to it that they keep getting cancelled or postponed. The credibility of a CR is defined by the number of times she/he has been able to get the exam or class postponed.
“Bhai, kissu pora hoyni. Test ta katiye de na!”

Kete geche exam! Source ~ meme.am
Kete geche exam! Source ~ meme.am

3. “Chaap nibi na!”

The ready antidote to any burning issue in the life of a JU student.

“Supplee legeche? Chaap nibi na!”
“Breakup hoyeche? Chaap nibi na!”

Did you know that this oft used phrase of current Bengali lingo is actually a brainchild of a long forgotten star of the JU campus? Admit it, “Chaap nibi na!” does have a calming influence especially when it comes from the mouth of a dada/didi.

Chap Nibi Na. Source ~ quickmeme.com
Chap Nibi Na. Source ~ quickmeme.com

4. “Lyadh”

If there is one thing that remains constant throughout the life of a JU Student, it’s “Lyadh”
Monumental procrastination and equally astronomical laziness – fondly called “Lyadh” – becomes so overpowering that, forget ghosts and vampires, a 10:30 A.M. class is the scariest thing a JU student can ever encounter in her/his life.

Lyadh khao. Source ~ keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk
Lyadh khao. Source ~ keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

5. “Chotha”

Batman who? Before every exam, CHOTHA is the Dark Knight for all of JU. The silent guardian. The answer to every question in the Semester papers. Without chotha, exams at JU would probably be akin to a bloodbath. Going rates ? A4 : Rs. 0.50. Micro: Rs. 1.50.

"Cheating" by Hariadhi. Source ~ Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org
“Cheating” by Hariadhi. Source ~ Commons – Commons.wikimedia.org

 6. “Bhai, ekta front page hobe?”

Surely the most important page in a lab report (all reports being duplicates of one another) is the distinctive Front Page – the one with the important details of who and what. And even then, most students won’t bother to buy these till 5 minutes before submission. Then at the very last moment, all of them greet each other with these words. which in other words is an SoS.

A typical cover page. Source ~ scienceblogs.com
A typical cover page. Source ~ scienceblogs.com

7. Worldview

You take your trips to Worldview way more seriously than your academic worldviews. The name itself is enough to boost up the testosterone levels of a FET guy. This is where you wish you met the girl of your dreams. You start appreciating female curves so much that when plotting graphs for lab work, drawing of the curve precedes the plotting of the observation coordinates.

Worldview. Source ~ outlookindia.com
Worldview. Source ~ outlookindia.com

8. Sanskriti

You celebrate Durga Puja twice a year and Bijoya Dashami for you happens in the month of March. Sanskriti is the highlight of your social calendar and you would not give it up for anything in the whole wide world.

Sanskriti 2014. Source ~ amazonaws.com
Sanskriti 2014. Source ~ amazonaws.com

9. Union Room

The place which is heaven for most of JU. You spend more time here than in the classrooms. The place which offers everything from TT to adda and from birthday celebrations to counters. The place whose walls are adorned with creative words and powerful graffiti. A TATE right inside JU.

Union room graffiti. Source ~ Facebook
Union room graffiti. Source ~ Facebook

10. “Manush ashe manush jaye, tofat sudhu shirdaray”

The final character of a true JU student – COJONES. Hokkolorob was the rallying cry that rose from this campus and echoed across the entire nation. Every student stood hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder and galvanized into one immense force.  JU has it’s own voice and it rings loud and clear – many a seat of power has been known to shake and tumble when faced by the march of the Thinking Youth.

HOKKOLOROB. Source ~ youthkiawaaz.com
HOKKOLOROB. Source ~ youthkiawaaz.com

 

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When it comes to romance, the Bong man is a stellar success. And here are the reasons that make a Bengali man the best boyfriend/lover/husband you will ever come across

Abir. Source ~ tellychakkar.com
Abir. Source ~ tellychakkar.com

The Bengali man – the bhodrolok, has forever been a polarising character. Some love him ardently and some scoff at his many idiosyncrasies. But when it comes to the romance, the Bong man is a stellar success. And here are the reasons that make a Bengali man the best boyfriend/lover/husband you will ever come across (or maybe have to yourself, if you’re a lucky lady!)

  1. THE GENUINE NICE GUY

A Bengali man is probably the perfect specimen of the NICE GUY. He is chivalrous, considerate, caring and is never aggressive with his dame. He can be found regularly holding the door open for his lady (and 5 other people who follow quickly after) at malls, restaurants, film halls and cars.

Soumitra. Source ~ learningandcreativity.com/
Soumitra.
  1. THE POIGNANT POET & SINGER

Bengali men are brought up in an environment where poetry and rhyming phrases are how people talk. Even when he’s on the football ground and cursing the players, he does it in unmentionable poddos (poems). So when it comes to romance, a line here and there quoted from Jibanananda or Rabindranath is par for him. He is also the rare classically trained male who is in tune even in the bathroom. And you will probably be treated to lines from Othello when he is heartbroken….TO DIE UPON A KISS.

Anupam Roy. Source ~Imageshack.com/
Anupam Roy. Source ~Imageshack.com/
  1. THE DEEP EYES AND ELEGANT GAIT

A Bengali man may not be the fair tall handsome Punjabi munda, but the bespectacled shaggy haired dude is actually the owner of big, often drunken eyes that can melt your heart. A Bong boy will say more with his eyes over a glass of scotch than most men say over an entire night of lovemaking. He also possesses this unusual gait that shouts composure and a laid-back coolness – especially when dressed in their drool-worthy dhuti-punjabi or jeans-punjabi?

Soumitra in Apur Sangshar. Source ~ ibnlive.com
Soumitra in Apur Sangshar. Source ~ ibnlive.com
  1. GYAN & ANECDOTES

He has a ton of information (sometimes random & useless but never boring) & knowledge about almost everything. On a shopping spree you might suddenly be treated to the history of Coco Chanel or in the middle of dinner he might start explaining the meaning of different types of steaks. The Bengali man is a treasure trove of trivial, surreal, serious or funny facts & anecdotes. He always has a dada or kaka who has done the exact thing you are talking about. Never a boring moment around him & never again will you have to hunt for a conversation starter.

Feluda Topshe & Shidhu Jyatha.
Feluda Topshe & Shidhu Jyatha.
  1. FOOD LOVER

An old adage says that picky eaters make bad lovers & big eaters make great ones. Almost every Bengali man is, proudly, a KHADDO ROSHIK – a food lover & connoisseur of global cuisine. If it’s cooked well he’ll eat it, even if it’s a live snake in Vietnam. And that appetite, ladies & gentlemen, also converts to warm hugs, sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of love. Like they say big eaters make big lovers!

Food loving Bengali, even when it leads to a love for digestives!
Food loving Bengali, even when it leads to a love for digestives!
  1. THE RESPONSIBLE FRIEND IN NEED

Any woman who has ever gone out with a Bengali man will vouch for this – he is the quintessential pillar of responsibility and will always get you home safe. He likes the role of a caretaker & lover – he’ll get you your drink, he’ll walk you to your gate just cause your lane is dark & he’ll ask you to let him know once you reach home safe. Ekbar janiye dish…

Vidya's friend Param in Kahani. Source ~ indiatvnews.com
Vidya’s friend Param in Kahaani. Source ~ indiatvnews.com
  1. THE SMOOTH ANGER MANAGER

Often on the streets of Kolkata, you’ll see a Bong bhodromohila throwing an earth shattering tantrum with her man. And every single time, you’ll see the man trying his best to calm her down and talk sense into her, but with loving patience. The Bengali man knows how to tackle a woman in her shrew avatar. And he doesn’t give a flying f*** if the rest of the world thinks he’s a joru ka gulam – he’s not that and he knows how to love well.

Barfi -Ranbir & Priyanka
Barfi -Ranbir & Priyanka
  1. THE GREAT SHOPPER

While the rest of the male universe is killing itself complaining about how horrid it is to go shopping with a woman, the Bong bhodorolok is quietly doing his thing – taking his beloved to Chaitra sale and enthusiastically choosing the best laal-par saree for her. The Bengali man is an asset on these trips, since, he is your forever present answer to the question – kemon dekhachche boloto? Chomotkaar!

Bengali couple shopping
Bengali couple shopping
  1. ADMIRER OF INTELLIGENCE & PERSONALITY

A Bengali man honestly believes the following lines of one of Rabindranath’s ballads – Rupe tomaye bholabo na (I won’t deceive you with my beauty). Though he likes admiring the super-hot specimens of the opposite sex, what he truly yearns for & respects is an original personality & a sparkling intelligence. He will always be more turned on by a deep conversation with a woman rather than her full pout.

Byomkesh satyabati
Byomkesh satyabati
  1. THE ORIGINAL OPEN-MINDED LIBERAL

Even though women’s lib is still a hot topic globally, Bengalis (majorly because of Ram Mohan Roy) have never have had to live in a society of unequals – men & women are treated as equals and most of the times Bong women come out on top (read Madhyamik & Uchcha-Madhyamik results). Hence, the Bengali man has absolutely zero ideas of discrimination or false insecurities about his woman. He is not going to be scandalized by or balk at his girlfriend/wife drinking, smoking, arguing or fighting or doing anything at par with a man. If you are not a Bengali, this is a pleasant change from the quintessential Indian male.

Raima Sen
Raima Sen
  1. PASSION

If ever there was a class of people who resembled Italians, then they are Bongs. They both love their afternoon naps, are big eaters & are passionate about every damn thing on earth. A Bengali man is equally passionate about football as he is about politics. And when this comes to romancing his belle, his passion sometimes creates a Devdas and at others an Uttam Kumar-esque romantic. Let his passions flare and you’ll probably have an insatiable & untiring lover for the rest of your life.

Uttam Kumar Saptapadi
The passionate footballer & lover – Uttam Kumar in Saptapadi
  1. HUMOR

When Bollywood proclaimed “HANSI TO PHANSI”, the Bengali man was probably smiling knowingly. He is forever the funny guy who will always use self-deprecating sweet nothings to defuse your anger or sorrow. The subtlety of his humor is at times astonishing too.

Palash Sen woos Vidya Balan. Source ~ Youtube. Click the image & go check out the awesome video
The funny Palash Sen woos Vidya Balan. Source ~ Youtube. Click the image & go check out the awesome video
  1. THE MULTILINGUAL BANGREZ

A Bengali man, is often a throwback to the days of the Raj. He likes addressing women as ma’am & is often a great speaker & writer in English. This is an added bonus (not something to be proud of) in a country where we still value people who can speak well in the Queen’s language. By the way, just because he is a fiery BANGREZ doesn’t mean he can’t speak in tongues – his Bengali is mellifluous & his Hindi is probably the SHUDDH version. And if he’s stayed anywhere in the south of India, he sure knows a smattering of Tamil & Kannada. After all, a Bengali man is a cunning linguist!

Pranoy Roy
Pranoy Roy
  1. THE INEBRIATED HISTRIONICS

You have to see a drunk Bong to believe it. A Bengali man loves his scotch. When high, he is the most entertaining and least menacing man around. He will get up on the bar stool and in clear tone & tune, either recite a poem or start singing Pink Floyd. Sit back and enjoy the show mademoiselle.

Drunk Devdas
Drunk Devdas
  1. THE SUBTLE GENTLEMAN COMPANION

The Bengali man always knows how to walk with you – when you’re in your short skirts on the way to Roxy or in a gorgeous dhakai on Ashtami. His subtle changes in handling you will floor you. He knows when to take a backseat and let you be in the limelight. The man will let you be YOU. He will sit in a corner with a smile on his lips admiring you from afar.

Uttam kUmar in Saptapadi. Source ~ inannareturns.com
Uttam kUmar in Saptapadi. Source ~ inannareturns.com
  1. A CHEF

Most Bengali men are indulgent cooks & love playing the host. They love surprising everyone with exotic concoctions they cook up – beer battered pork chops, a Chicken-a-la Kiev, a tall glass of his special margarita & sangria combo? If you don’t mind the war zone that your kitchen looks like after he’s done with his experimentations, a Bong man is a surprisingly lovely chef & bartender to have around.

Parambrata cooks. Source ~ timesofindia.indiatimes.com/
Parambrata cooks. Source ~ timesofindia.indiatimes.com
  1. THE INTELLECTUAL BIBLIOPHILE

Ever wondered what a Bengali man’s DVD collection, his bookshelf & his wall look like? They are chock full of Kurosawa movies, Hemingway novels & posters of the Bridge Over River Kwai. His favorite movies are probably all black & white. If you are a book lover, you will enjoy every discussion with him – he is extremely well read in at least two languages. A Bengali man seeks depth & intellectual gravity in all he perceives. You will be exposed to some of the most exotic works of art in his presence & he will never come across as the slovenly beer drinking, WWE poster on the wall, Chetan Bhagat reading slob – he’s a sharp & witty appreciator of art & culture.

Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray
  1. NICKNAMES

Puchu, pinku, poltu, panchu, shontu, rontu & babu – though funny as hell, all of these are common nicknames for Bengali men. Imagine having a lover whom you can lovingly call “MY DEAR LALTU” in private. Hilarity is never missing in a Bengali man’s presence.

AYE PIKU. Source ~ ibnlive.in
AYII PIKU
  1. LOVER NOT A FIGHTER

Bengali men are often disparaged as effeminate, non-fighting weaklings. Please know this once and for all – he may not be the punching, kicking hero of a Bollywood flick, but he will always stand up for his partner. And anyone who has been at the receiving end of an angry Bong man’s wrath knows that not all fights are won with fists – some are simply silenced with words & attitude. If he is still faced with an angry brute he is well capable of belittling his opponent with his wit and making sure that he comes out the victor without throwing a single punch. If you know a Bengali man called Sourav Ganguly then you’ll know what we mean!

Dada. Source ~ newsmodile.in
Dada.

Thus, the final word – in case you have a Bengali bhadralok holding your hand right now or a good looking Bong chokra trying to woo you with Robi Thakur’s poetry, please turn around and give them a hug & know that you have chosen well!

 

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Poush Mela at Santiniketan is beginning right now and we give you the reasons why you must not miss this mega event.

Poush Mela
Poush Mela

What started as a small Tagore family affair along with a handful of Brahmo Samaj followers at Shantiniketan, has become a truly international event today – Poush Mela is today one of the festivals that Bengal is identified by. It attracts Baul musicians, local village artists and millions of visitors from across the world every year.

Every year on the 7th day of the Bengali month of Poush (generally 23rd December), Shantiniketan Mela ground hosts ‘Poush Mela’.

So here are our pick of reasons why Shantiniketan should be your destination of choice over this last long weekend of 2015.

THE 150 YEAR OLD TRADITION

Early on the morning of day 1, prayers are organised at the historic Chatimtala to mark the acceptance of the Brahmo creed by Devendranath Tagore in 1843.  The mela or fair started in 1891 to mark the foundation laying of the Brahmo Mandir which now is more famous as the Kaanch Ghor (Glass House).

Chatimtala
Chatimtala
Kaanch Ghor. Source ~ Wikimapia.org
Kaanch Ghor. Source ~ Wikimapia.org
BAULS – Bengal’s minstrels

The traveling minstrels of Bengal, BAULS, with their single stringed ektaras and soulful songs are an integral part of Poush Mela and the whole district of Birbhum. You shouldn’t miss high voltage performances from these folk singers when they are singing “Hridoy er maajhe‘ to ‘Cycle er duto chaka‘ – especially if you are privy to the double entendres hidden deep within the simple lyrics.

Baul singers. Source ~ ucanews.com
Baul singers. Source ~ ucanews.com
FIREWORKS

A traditional fireworks show is how Poush Mela is declared open. On the evening of 24th December the sky over Bolpur lights up & this is one of the major attractions of the Mela. Make sure you reach early & grab front rows seats

poushmela fireworks
Poushmela Bajipora
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS

Poush Mela is arguably biggest exhibition of handicrafts from not only Bengal but from other part of India as well. Apart from the Batik print and Taant saree you will also find handloom stores manned by artisans from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. In case you are planning to decorate your house, Poush Mela can be your source of the most enthralling rural handicrafts from Bengal & beyond & that too at almost half the prices of what you pay at city stores.

poush mela shopping
poush mela shopping
TRIBAL DANCE

If you’ve never seen the in sync & rhythmic dance of the tribal dancers of Birbhum, you haven’t really experienced the true beauty of Bengal. And Poush Mela is where you can catch these performances during the mornings of the first and second days.

Santhali Dance
Santhali Dance
RIDES

When was the last time you rode a Nagordola or a Columbus Ship in a truly rural fair? These cliched but still exciting rides will take you back to your childhood. Screaming your lungs out while majestic views of the mela grounds & the Vishwabharati campus lay sprawled at your feet, on a wintry night is a priceless experience. Don’t forget to request the operator for one extra round (yeah, it works!)

Nagordolna
Nagordola
DOKRA ART & JEWELLERY

This section of the mela has and will always be the bastion of our lassies. This unique style of jewellery looks perfect with both traditional and modern attires. This is what all our Bongo-lolonas flaunt when they put on their gorgeous taant or dhakai sarees.

Dogra mala
Dokra Mala Source – trekearth.com
THE FOOD

You will find hundreds of food stalls and small vendors selling everything from gorom-ghugni , ilipi, Mathura ka Peda (yes you heard it right), langcha to Rajbhogh.

Mela Stalls
Mela Stalls

The Patishaptas alone can be the reason to board the Shantiniketan Express from Howrah & go visit Poush Mela. These Pancakes made by local villagers with rice, milk, coconut and locally produced gur (jaggery) are pure heavenly blessings for us mortals.

Pithe
Patishapta
WHO DOESN’T LOVE A MELA…

Finally who needs a reason to go to a Mela on a chilly night in December with hundreds of food stalls, local handicrafts, rides,  and what not. And in case you are a single, romantic Bengali young man or lady, know this – Poush Mela has seen many a love story begin from amidst it’s grounds. Your’s truly had also met one of the loveliest of Bong belles during a Poush Mela evening long back. Need any more reasons to go visit this magical fair?

Ariel view of Mela Groud
A view of the Mela Ground

We hope, by now you are calling your gang and planning an unforgettable trip to Shantiniketan for Poush Mela. If not, you have a year of waiting to do my friend!

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Ritwik Ghatak is hailed all over the world as one of the rare geniuses of the silver screen. And yet, how many of his movies have you seen? Here are 8 Ghatak movies you must see before you die.

Meghe Dhaka Tara
Meghe Dhaka Tara

He has been called the ‘Radical genius of Indian Cinema. Ritwik Ghatak, regarded as one of the best Indian directors of the 20th Century, together with Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen, is still largely unknown in and outside of India. Fortunately, this is slowly changing as his films become accessible again and can now be studied in detail. Here’s his  IMDB page and it’s a shame that it doesn’t even have an image to it.

Here are the (only!) 8 movies he made and which, we believe, every Bengali must see. It’s time we raised a toast to the unsung genius of Ritwik Ghatak.

Meghe Dhaka Tara

Based on the novel by Shaktipada Rajguru, Meghe Dhaka Tara is probably Ritwik Ghatak’s most celebrated movie. Who can forget the stellar acting of Supriya in this movie. This movie is probably the most moving portrayal of life in Bengal after the dreaded partition. And this song by A T Kanan is one of the most beautifully shot classical songs for a movie.

"Meghe Dhaka Tara1" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Meghe_Dhaka_Tara1.jpg#/media/File:Meghe_Dhaka_Tara1.jpg
“Meghe Dhaka Tara” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia
Subarnarekha

Ranked by a critics’ poll at #11 among the all-time-greatest films, Subarnarekha was part of a trilogy about lives torn apart by the partition .

Subarno Rekha. Source ~ Wikimedia.org
Subarno Rekha. Source ~ Wikimedia.org
Titash Ekti Nodir Naam

One of the earliest examples of  hyperlink cinema, this film depicts the riverine life of fishermen on the banks of the Titas river in Bangladesh. Titas Ekti Nodir Naam is ranked as the best Bangladeshi film ever made, by the British Film Institute.

“Titash Ekti Nadir Naam DVD cover” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia
Jukti Takko ar Gappo

With unique camera work, this film sees Ghatak playing the protagonist – an intellectual & hopeless drunk (‘a humbug’ in his own words) who is driven from his home & travels the countryside meeting many a unique character with their own stories to tell. It was also one of the first movies to dwell on the Naxalite movement just taking shape in Bengal.

"Jukti Takko Aar Gappo" Source - filmria.ru
“Jukti Takko Aar Gappo” Source – fFilmria.ru
Ajantrik

A film about one man’s obsession (brilliantly played by Ghatak’s favorite Kali Banerjee) with his favorite rusty car sees Ritwik Ghatak at his sarcastic & hilarious best. Wikipedia says this about the movie – “A comedy-drama film with science fiction themes, it is one of the earliest Indian films to portray an inanimate object, in this case an automobile, as a character in the story. It achieves this through the use of sounds, recorded during post-production, to emphasize the car’s bodily functions and movements”. Talk about being ahead of time.

“Ajantrik, 1958 film” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia
Nagarik

Nagarik is an honest look at how young men in post-partition Kolkata dealt with career, life, hardships & love. The ending scene of the two lovers walking away in rain is probably one of the most hopeful images ever created on the silver screen,

Nagarik Poster
Nagarik Poster
Komal Gandhar

Komal Gandhar (the name for E-FLAT in Bengali) explores three themes – the dilemma of Anusua, the lead character, divided leadership of IPTA and the fallout of the partition of India. Unlike his other films, this one runs along an upbeat mood with the lead pair of lovers (Vrigu and Anusua) being reunited. And the music again adds to the flavor of this flick.

"Komal Gandhar DVD cover" by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Komal_Gandhar_DVD_cover.jpg#/media/File:Komal_Gandhar_DVD_cover.jpg
“Komal Gandhar DVD cover” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia
Bari Theke Paliye

Bari Theke Paliye is the story of an unruly 8 year old who runs away from home & his father (who he sees as an oppressive demon) to the mythical city of Calcutta only to face the realities of life in a big city. This is a tour-de-force of a director who was at home both in rural & metropolitan Bengal. A brilliant coming of age movie that will hold you riveted to the screen.

"Dvd bari theke paliye" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dvd_bari_theke_paliye.jpg#/media/File:Dvd_bari_theke_paliye.jpg
“Dvd bari theke paliye” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

 

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    He is NOT a Bengali. But his Rabindra Sangeet performance & Bengali pronunciation is spellbinding. He is Sanam Puri and here is his amazing cover of TUMI ROBE NIROBE.

    Sanam Puri Rabindra Sangeet. Source ~ Youtube.com
    Sanam Puri Rabindra Sangeet. Source ~ Youtube.com

    It is not everyday that a Non-Bengali performer attempts to belt out a not-so-easy-to-sing Rabindra Sangeet. Hence, when a Youtube celebrity singer from Delhi tries it, our Bong ears go aflutter – “Oh really? He’s going to do WHAT?!” We can’t wait to laugh at his failed effort and criticise his bad pronunciation of Bengali words.

    But then there’s Sanam Puri, the self-taught lead singer of the Delhi based band SANAM. And he has not only attempted but done a stellar job of singing one of Rabindranath’s immortal ballads. It’s a soulful performance and his perfect pronunciation of Bengali words is what will leave you pleasantly surprised.

    Watch the video and be stunned!


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    There's an oft used saying in Bengali colloquy - without Rabindranath, life as a Bengali is meaningless. But how well do you know Tagore? Take this quiz and find out for yourself.

    Portrait of Rabindranath Tagore, circa 1935. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
    Portrait of Indian author and poet Rabindranath Tagore, circa 1935. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

    There’s an oft used saying in Bengali colloquy – without a touch of Rabindranath, life as a Bengali is meaningless. The great bard, our Kobiguru Rabindranath Tagore, is an integral and essential part of life as a Bengali. His songs talk to and about every feeling that we experience. His poetry & prose are our staple for every occasion – happy or sad, love or rage, joy or pain. His achievements as a creative genius are monumental & are probably Bengal’s greatest gifts to mankind.

    But how well do you know the maestro from Jorashanko? Take this quiz and see if you are a true “Rabindra-Anuragi” Bengali.

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    There are some immortal songs without which any para function or pujo pandal in Bengal is incomplete. Check out our favorite songs for every Bengali para!

    Usha Utthup. Source ~ chiloka.com
    Usha Utthup. Source ~ chiloka.com

    This time of the year, Bengal floods with pujas & para-functions organised by our neighborhood clubs. And with that comes high decibel 24×7 playlists of Bengali songs from across multiple generations. Forget all the new tracks, there’s these few immortal songs of para functions that are blared every single year. We at BONGFeed carefully listened to these evergreen tunes, searched for their videos and compiled them here. Now go ahead and immerse yourself in this nostalgic journey into Bong music – forget what the songs are about, all of them are bound to make you feel festive.

    NAKABANDI by USHA UTTHUP

    If you haven’t danced to this one, then you don’t deserve a place in the “bhashan “rally!

    Listen to the pulsating Nakabandi.

    Nakabandi by Usha Utthup
    Nakabandi by Usha Utthup
    SHISHE KI UMRA PYALE KI by KISHORE KUMAR from PREM PRATIGYA

    For a heart wrenching song like this, it’s strange how most of us feel like doing the crazy KHEMTA to this song. Maybe it’s because of Mithunda’s wavy moves in the video.

    Marvel at this video of Shishe ki Umr .

    Mithun da in Shishe ki Umra kya thi
    Mithun da in Shishe ki Umra kya thi
    AMI KOLKATAR ROSOGOLLA from ROKTE LEKHA

    Bappi da’s music and Debosree Roy’s dance moves. However much you smirk at this song today, you know you’ve been humming it every year during the Pujas.

    Watch the Kolkata Rosogolla.

    Debashree Roy in 'Ami Kolkata r Rossogolla'
    Debashree Roy in ‘Ami Kolkata r Rossogolla’
    PRIYOTOMAAAAA MONE REKHOOOO by KUMAR SHANU

    Koto je shagor nodi, periye elam ami koto poth holam je paar.

    Tomar moto eto opo-roop shundor, kauke to dekhini go aar!

    Thousands, if not millions, of Bengali men have used these corny lines to make their lady loves smile. Try it, and the results might surprise you!

    Here’s Kumar Shanu performing Priyotoma live.

    Priyotoma song by Kumar Shanu
    Priyotoma song by Kumar Shanu
    KOTHA HOYE CHILO by ASHA BHOSLE from TROYEE

    Composed by the boss himself – R.D.Burman’s Kotha Hoye Chilo is probably the most hummable of this lot!

    If you’ve only heard the song and never seen the video, here it is Kotha hoye chilo.

    Kotha hoye chilo
    Kotha hoye chilo
    AE AMAR GURU DOKKHINA

    Uffff….Bappida again! We don’t need to say a word here. Just go play the video & that’s our Guru-Dokkhina.

    Taposh Pal sings Ae Amar Gurudokkhina.

    Taposh Pal in 'E amar gurudokkhina'
    Taposh Pal in ‘E amar gurudokkhina’
    NAINO MEIN SAJNA from HIMMAT WALA

    Bappida is all over. And this one has Jeetendra admiring Sridevi’s navel very very closely. But heck, what a song!

    Watch Jeetendra & Sridevi’s navel in Naino mein Sajna.

    Jeetendra & Sridevi's navel in 'Naino mein Sajna'
    Jeetendra & Sridevi’s navel in ‘Naino mein Sajna’
    URI URI, URI BABA KI DARUNNN by USHA UTTHUP from BOLIDAN

    Yes, it’s by Bappi Lahiri again! And this song is probably why the entire country, even today, sees a Bengali and says “URI BABA”.

    See the original Uri Uri Baba video here. Do put on sunglasses first, it’s shiny and sparkly!

    Uri Uri Baba
    Uri Uri Baba
    AAR KOTO RAAT EKA THAKBO by ASHA BHOSLE from CHOKER ALOYE

    We’ve never seen a Bengali actress raise the temperature on screen via such poetic lyrics . Wonder how this song became a staple for Durga Puja though – how many Bongs are actually tired of lonely nights?

    See the red hot Aar koto raat video.

    Deboshree Roy in 'Aar koto rat eka thakbo'. The most loved par function song ever
    Deboshree Roy in ‘Aar koto raat eka thakbo’.

    And finally, the song without which Durga Pujo would be like “chini-chara-cha” –

    CHIRODINI TUMI JE AMAR by BAPPI LAHIRI

    Prosenjit and Mandakini acted in this epic song that every Bengali hums throughout October & November. Now be nice and check out the video, cause we are sure you’ve never seen it.

    Bumbada romances Mandakini in Chirodini.

    Bumbada in 'Chirodini tumi je amar'. The most loved para function song ever
    Bumbada in ‘Chirodini tumi je amar’. The most loved para function song ever

    Did we miss your favorite song? Add your favorite para function song in the comments & let us know


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    He is a stellar mathematician. He went to UC Berkeley. He is a renowned professor of geometry. And he is a monk. He is Mahan Maharaj & he is the recipient of the infosys Prize in Mathematics.

    Mahan Maharaj. Source ~ gonitsora.com/
    Mahan Maharaj. Source ~ gonitsora.com/

    “I follow no organised religion. If you asked me and one put a gun to my head I would probably say science,”  (sic). These are the exact words of an inspirational Bengali monk, when he was interviewed by NDTV, after winning the Infosys prize worth 65 Lakh INR, for his work in the field of mathematics.

    He is Mahan Mitra aka Mahan Maharaj or Swami Vidyanathananda. An alumnus of St. Xaviers College, Kolkata, Mahan Mj completed his Masters in Mathematics from IIT,Kanpur and PhD from University of California,Berkeley.

    In 2011 he was also the recipient of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize in the Mathematical Sciences, India’s topmost national award that recognises scientific contributions made by Indian scientists under the age of 45. Here’s his interview after winning this unique distinction.

    The Infosys citation reads – “Prof. Mahan Mj has had a substantial impact on the fields of geometric group theory, low-dimensional topology and complex geometry. His work in all these fields is characterized by its creativity and clever use of delicate geometric arguments.”

    Swami Vidyanathananda aka Mahan MJ
    Swami Vidyanathananda aka Mahan MJ

    He joined Ramkrishna Mission in 1998, and is currently a Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, just opposite Belur Math.

    Here is an interview of Mahan Maharaj, who according to us, is a true embodiment of what our beloved Swami VIvekananda had dreamed of – an ascetic devoid of any religious bias standing at the crossroads of science and spirituality. We are proud to be denizens of the same city that he calls home. See this interview to understand the beauty of what he is working on and marvel at a monk’s sprightly humor & razor sharp intellect.

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    BAJAR GOROM

    EKDOM FRESH

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