Best of Bengal

Sitalpati

Sitalpati, a kind of mat, is perhaps the most notable and popular product among the handicrafts of Cooch Behar; unlike other kinds of mats woven in Bengal, Sitalpati is more exquisite, with Barokodali, Ghughumari and Nakkati-Pushnadanga of Cooch Behar district being the hubs of Sitalpati craft.

   
 
   

Clay dolls of Krishnanagar

The craft of doll making is practiced by many talented artisans in Krishnanagar (Nadia district), West Bengal. The ability to infuse details like delicacy of expression in miniature modeling isn’t mere creative flair. While these dolls aren’t blessed with the gift of gab, yet they almost strike a conversation with their distinguished verve in expression.

   
 
   

Kushmandi Masks

Mahishbathan in South Dinajpur's Kushmandi block is famous for bamboo masks based on popular folk and mythological characters like Moshan, Narorakshas, Hanuman, Chamkali, Chamunda etc., with bamboo vases, trays, incense stands, pen stands also being manufactured by the artisans here.

   
 
   

Dokra

Originally, the word Dokra or Dhokra was used to specify a group of travelling craftsmen, scattered across Bengal, Orissa and Madhya Pradash who were identified by their marvellously crafted and ornate metal goods; these craftsmen later established themselves in and around the Burdwan, Bankura and Midnapore districts of West Bengal.

   
 
   

Shawls

Traditionally worn by both men and women in cultures from South America to Asia, the shawl (and how it is worn) has long been an expression of taste, style and personality - each one with a unique story. And closer home, each one a celebration of rural Bengali craftsmanship.

   
 
   

Pithe Puli

Makar Sankranti is one of the major harvest festivals celebrated in various parts of India, including West Bengal, where it is also known as Poush Sankranti - named after the Bengali month 'Poush'.

   
 
   

Balaposh

Balaposh or silk quilts are steeped in history and deft craftsmanship, with Balaposh of Murshidabad being one of West Bengal’s finest creations that has travelled near and far and has won appreciation for the sweet scented warmth – spread by a layer of attar-scented cotton wool between two layers of silk cloth, using no quilting stitches at all apart from the stitches on the edges.

   
 
   

Christmas Cake

Christmas is incomplete without the traditional rich fruit cake or pudding that has come to be part and parcel of the Season, with the mouth-watering dessert being prepared in many different ways, but generally they are variations of the classic fruitcake; light, dark, moist, dry, heavy, spongy, leavened or unleavened, they are baked in many different shapes too, with frosting and glazing or just served plain.

   
 
   

Batik

Batik (meaning ‘wax painting’) is both a Javanese art form and a craft that originated in Indinesia, but is hugely popular in Santiniketan, with multi-coloured and abstract designed Batik saris being a huge hit with the fashion conscious.

   
 
   

Nolen Gur

With the onset of winter the people of West Bengal look forward to their favourite winter delight - nolen gur or date palm jaggery - a key ingredient in most winter delicacies from sandesh to payesh and everything in between.

   
 
   

Nakshi Kantha

A form of embroidery especially to make quilts, Nakshi kantha is often referred to as ‘painting with needle’, and is mainly comprised of cloth and thread-old cloth being used to make the motifs originally. The background was usually white and colored thread was used to embroider the designs on it.

   
 
   

Joynagarer Moya

Joynagarer moya, which ranks very high on the sweet charts of West Bengal, makes a seasonal appearance in December and vanishes by the end of winter in West Bengal.

   
 
   

Murshidabad Silk

Murshidabad once boasted of a robust silk industry that catered to the exports of the East India Company; the production process of Murshidabad silk is as intriguing as the fact that a single cocoon can reel in to 1000 to 1200 meters of silk filament.

   
 
   

Chandannagar Lighting

Technological advancement in all walks of life has made a deep impact on the concept of lighting as well - from the archaic concept of lighting with oil lamps to candle light and carbide gas lights, tulip lights, tube lights, chandeliers and twinklings.

   
 
   

Matir Pidim (Earthen Diya)

Matir pidim or earthen diyas are considered auspicious and have withstood the test of time, as these hand crafted lamps light up the dark night of Diwali in millions of homes and dispel the darkness each year.

   
 
   

Kalighat Patachitra

Kalighat Patachitra developed in the temple courtyard of the famous Kali temple of Kolkata in the nineteenth century, and is still practiced by highly skilled artists also known as Patuas.

   
 
   

Dhaak

Durga Puja is incomplete without the rhythm and beats of dhaak, as one yearns to wake up to the distant beats each morning on those four days in the year.

   
 
   

Daker Saaj

The worshipping of goddess Durga during autumn began in Bengal in the late 16th or early 17th century. For the zamindar families, the pomp and glory grew bigger and bigger. Grand decorations began to be created for the idols of the goddess Durga and her sons and daughters - namely, Kartik, Ganesh, Lakshmi and Saraswati.

   
 
   

Baluchari Sari

Originally worn by women of the rich and powerful families, Baluchari saris - having gradually grown to be a must-have for every Bengali bride, are justifiably referred to as Bengal’s pride with families handing them down – as heirlooms through generations, with love and care.

   
 
   

Kumartuli

Nestled in the lap of northern Kolkata, Kumartuli - India's only potters’ town, has been the home and hub for the country’s most gifted craftsmen – also called kumars (sculptors), for more than three centuries.

   
 
   

Chhau dance

With its origins tracing back to the Baghmundi area of Purulia district, the Chhau is a tribal martial dance form performed in Bengal to celebrate the sun festival.

   
 
   

Terracotta Horses from Bankura

Elegant, stately and unique, the iconic terracotta (clay craft) horse - with its unusually long neck, and contrasting short, compact body, of Bankura district in West Bengal is one of the most recognised symbols of Indian folk art.

   
 
   

Darjeeling Tea

Often called the 'champagne of teas' because of its exceptional taste, lightness of flavour and fine colouring - attributed to the unique geographical location, the type of the plants and their processing, Darjeeling tea has enjoyed the patronage and recognition of discerning consumers all over the world for well over a century.

   
 
   
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