CULTURE OF WEST BENGAL: TRADITION AND LIFESTYLE
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West Bengal is a diverse state with a lot of cultural and rich traditional backgrounds. The geographical diversity of the state itself takes a unique place. To the north is the mesmerizing beauty of Darjeeling known as the Queen of hills, whereas it also opens the doors to Bhutan. To the south of the state are the Sundarbans and the Bay of Bengal where land and sea meet at a horizon. To the east, it shares a border with Bangladesh where most of our ancestors used to live and to the west, we open our arms towards Jharkhand and Bihar. The state has a unique strategic position and governs an important place both strategically and politically. The culture and traditions of this state always remain sky-high. Depicting through this article is some of the well-known cultures and traditions of West Bengal state.
Literature of West Bengal
Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Michael Madhusudan Dutta. Do these names ring any alarm bells?. Well, these are few of the most renowned writers poets the country ever had. Our National Anthem and Vande Matram which every Indian has engraved in their heart were written by Tagore and Bankim Chandra respectively. Our local folklore includes children’s stories like “Gopal Bhar” or “Thakumar Jhuli”. “Meghnad Badh Kabya” by Madhusudan Dutta is one of the finest pieces Indian literature has ever produced.
Art (Paintings and handicrafts) of West Bengal
Art can be referred to as anything like literature music, films. But we will elaborate on them on specific subtopics. Here we mainly focus on painting or artworks. Paintings or handicrafts in west Bengal need no special introduction. They are smooth, light, and sumptuous. Bengal is famous for its clay dolls and terracotta art items all over the country. The folk painting pattachitra is famous and unique. It refers to drawing on “paata” or clothes.
Music of West Bengal
Music is divine and full of serendipity. The Baul folklore is one of the oldest and traditional folklore of the state. It refers to a group of people singing together in harmony with traditional string instruments like ektara. Gharana is also famous while Bhatiyali is another traditional song, usually sung by the fisherman to keep themselves entertained. Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Geeti( Bengali ghazals were written by poet Kazi Nazrul Islam) are famous and performed at various places. The modern Bengali rock bands too have a name for them across the country while a lot of Bengali singers and music producers have shown their way in the Hindi film industry like Kishore Kumar, R.D. Burman, Shreya Ghosal and continuing.
Dance of West Bengal
The traditional dance form in West Bengal has a unique feature with the folklore. The Chau dance of Purulia is world-famous and people from all over the world come to see this unique dance form because of its attire. Gambhira is another popular local traditional dance performed here with people dancing on drum beats. During Durga Puja, Dhunuchi Naach is famous all over West Bengal. It’s a fun dance starting after evening aarti with people dancing and paying their tribute to Maa Durga.
Theatre and Films of West Bengal
One of the two Indian to win an Oscar, Satyajit ray and his filmography was way above the timeline. His films are regarded as one of the best in the entire nation. On the local side, Bengal has something known as “Jatra” where a group of people performs skits and plays by going around a number of villages and performing over a span of few days.
Attire and Dresses of West Bengal
Bengali women are generally associated with wearing a saree since the yesteryears and it is depicted everywhere, though salwar-kameez is also ethnic wear for the Bengali women. Over the past few decades, western dressing has tended to take a place in the wardrobe of Bengali women and it is now a mix of the old authentic traditions blending with modern western wear. The western-style dress has greater acceptance among men, but the traditional costumes still have their place. Dhuti-Punjabi is the most traditional dress for the Bengali men and wears them during festivals or any other auspicious occasion. Nowadays we tend to mix the traditional with western culture with Punjabi and jeans, which has gained huge popularity over the past 2 decades.
Festivals of West Bengal
In Bengali, there is saying which goes by “12 mash a 13 parbon”, which translates to 13 festivals over a span of 12 months. The biggest of all is the world-famous Durga Puja which is not only celebrated in West Bengal but also in other parts of the country as well as the world. It is followed by Lakshmi Puja and the kali Puja which coincides with Diwali in other parts of the country. Then there is worshipping of maa Saraswati, Dol or Holi, Bengali new year, and many more events that take place over the state. We literally have a festival a month and follow them with full enthusiasm.
Sweets are something that is generally associated with West Bengal. The cuisine of West Bengal has diversity all over. Fish is one of the most common things and staple food is almost incomplete without it. In desserts as mentioned sweets are a must with Rosogolla the most famous of them. It is famous all over the country. Snacks include jhal-muri(a dish made with puffed rice and some vegetable and oils and some mixtures.), chop, beguni and tea is famous all over the state.
Occupations of West Bengal
Bengal is mainly known for agriculture with its being the largest producer of jute across the country and second-largest in the world. Iron and Steel industries in Durgapur is also a place where there is huge employment. Coillery in Asansol is also a large contributor to state employment.