M3 Features

Celebrating Chaitra

April 14, 2015

'Baro Mashe Tero Parbon' is the best phrase to define a Bengali calendar. It means 'thirteen festivals in twelve months.' More precisely, there are possibly more festivals and celebrations in the calendar than the number of days. Each of the twelve months has its own speciality, in terms of the festivals, the weather, the season, the occasions and the rituals.

The month of spring

The month of Chaitra in Bengal has probably got the least number of events to celebrate, marriages and other ‘happy-n-prosperous’ rituals being banned in this month. It is the same for the month of Poush too; however, Poush, beginning mid-December and ending mid-January, has more celebrations in the universal calendar than the entire year! That does not go for Chaitra, beginning mid-March and ending mid-April, with the biggest Bengali celebration in the year (after Durga Puja) – Poila Boisakh or the Bengali New Year’s day.

Chaitra also brings the cyclonic storm, Kalbaisakhi, a compulsory characteristic of the weather for this month, marking the onset of the long summer. There are innumerable stories, poems and myths revolving around the Kalbaisakhi.

Chaitra sale

We Bengalis cannot live without festivity at any time, given the fact of 'Baro Mashe Tero Parbon.' Now, Chaitra, despite its terrible reputation due to the Kalbaisakhi, also comprises of several important events – the most important one being the 'Chaitra Sale' in West Bengal. The New Year’s Day at the end of Chaitra marks the beginning of the business year for Bengali businessmen and salesmen as well, with the Halkhata event being held in every shop owned by a Bengali. Chaitra Sale is the stock-clearing sale before the arrival of fresh goods in the new year. In addition, the tradition is to wear new clothes and put up new upholstery on New Year’s day. So, it's shopping time for all Bengali families.

The month-long shopping, which peaks towards the end of Chaitra (mid-April), attracts large crowds to the markets. The famous Gariahat Market in Kolkata almost seems to collapse under the weight of shoppers during this time of the year, with a footfall of lakhs and an unruly traffic. It is almost like the few days before Durga Puja, when the last-minute shopping is the cheapest in the year. Many Bengalis save up the last coins to spend on the necessities of the entire year in this massive sale, the core mantra for the consumers being – Bargain!

Parting thought

Chaitramas, or 'the month of Chaitra,' though the last month of the year, actually brings an exciting premonition of the upcoming joyousness and colours of life during the first month of Baisakh. Thus without this apparently negative month, our year would never have been complete. In Bengali we say – 'Shob Bhalo Jaar Shesh Bhaloi' meaning 'All is good when a good ending.' In a true sense, Chiatramas brings the perfect ending to the year and becomes the devil’s boon – as the myth says the Creator had created the entire Universe with its wonders in this month of Chaitra!

Feature image: Bengal Newz

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