Saturday, March 2, 2024
West Bengal

Festivals and Fairs

▪ Durga Puja ▪ Diwali ▪ Muslim Festivals ▪ Festival of Sahajiya Sect ▪ Orthodox Vaishnava festivals
▪ Rathayathra ▪ Holi ▪ Rabindra Jayanti ▪ Birthday of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
▪ Dussera ▪ Fairs ▪ Sri-Panchami ▪ Birthday of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa


Another occasion for the worship of the Ganga is the Dussera festival in mid-summer. All along the banks of the Bhagirathi, people take ceremonial baths in the river, offer worship to mother Ganga and distribute alms to beggars, supposedly to earn a bonus of religious merit.

Siva, admitted to the Hindu pantheon as Mahadeva or god of gods accounts for the festival of Sivarathri . On a new moon night in February-March, thousands and thousands of pilgrims assemble at the principle Siva temples. The temple at Tarakeshwar in Hooghly district attracts lakhs of pilgrims and a fair with all its features spring up. Siva, in the form of Neel (Nilakantha or blue throated ) is the object of a  month-long celebration of sections of the scheduled castes, particularly the section of tribals who have settled in non-tribal areas and those in 'unclean' occupations, which come to a climax on the last day of the Bengali year when ecstatic devotees of Siva throw themselves on specially prepared planks studded with sharp nails and hang suspended on a cross bar tied atop a pole by the skin of their back, which has been pierced through, by a skewer. This is the Charhak festival which invariably draws thousands of spectators to the awe-inspiring scene of incredible acts of self-mortification, a surviving remnant of  degenerate Tantric practices. People of upper castes especially women, observe complete fasts on the day and offer worship to Siva. Fairs are invariably held on the occasion in towns and villages, where toys and other handiwork of artisans are put up for sale. The participants take out teams of clowns in farcical dresses, chanting rugged doggerels in criticism of current fashions and events.