Holi is celebrated as the festival of Basanta Utsav with fervour in many parts of West Bengal. The tradition of Basanta Utsav, meaning Spring Festival, was started by the poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in Santiniketan, the university town he founded.
There is a marked difference in which Basanta Utsav is celebrated in the state as compared to Holi in the rest of India - the grace and dignified manner as compared to the all-pervading boisterousness. Boys and girls joyfully welcome Sspring, the season of hope, not just with colours but with songs, dances, and chanting of hymns in the serene ambience of Santiniketan. Anybody who witnesses this elegant way of celebrating Holi remembers it with fondness for the rest of his life.
Basanta Utsav in Santiniketan
Basanta Utsav in Santiniketan begins with morning prayers, followed by cultural events at the Ashram Math. 'Ore grihabashi' rings in the air as students of Vishwa Bharati University dance their way into the venue. Right from kids to graduate students – everyone participates in the dance and revelry. The cultural programme continues with all the Rabindra Sangeets of the season of Spring being performed and danced to in the purist forms.
Ore Grihobashi, khol dar khol laglo je dol
Sthaule jaule bono taule laglo je dol, dar khol
Ranga hashi rashi rashi ashoke paulashe
Ranga nesha meghe mesha probhaatho akaashe
Nobin pathay lage ranga hillol, dar khol dar khol
Benu bauno maurmore dokhino bataashe
Projapothi dole ghashe ghashe
Moumachi phire jachi phulero dokhina
Pakhay bajay tar bikhariro bina
Madhobi bithane bayu
Gaundhe bibhol, dar khol dar khol...
As the programme draws to a close, the riot of colours begins - as soon as the last line of the Rabindra Sangeet 'Rangiye diye jao' is performed, students and strangers alike start indulging in a kind of merrymaking hardly seen elsewhere. A speciality of Basanta Utsav in Santiniketan is the absence of water colours and the tradition of playing with only organic colours. It is a true celebration of nature.
People celebrating nature
Since its inception, Basanta Utsav has become a milestone of Bengal's cultural history. It has also captured international interest that is proved by the presence of numerous foreign tourists during its celebration.
Festival of colours
Click here to view the images of Basanta Utsav at Jorasanko Thakurbari and Santiniketan