Thursday, 31 January 2013

Destination India

West Bengal (PART-I)

A village of West Bengal

West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. Spread over
34,267 sq mi (88,750 West Bengal’s geography is as diversified as its culture. Through West Bengal runs the tropic of cancer. West Bengal is surrounded by the three international frontiers in the north, namely, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh. On its northeast lies the green valley of Assam. On the east lies Bangladesh. Bihar & Jharkhand lie on the western side. To the southwest, lies Orissa, the state with, its golden beaches, and the Bay of Bengal lies to the south of West Bengal. Starting from the mighty Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south, West Bengal is a cluster of varied physical features. Coming downward, the state houses some of the rare species of wildlife in the Sundarbans that is also the natural habitat of the famous Royal Bengal Tiger. Between the Himalayan mountain region and the delta region lay the fertile ‘Gangetic’ plains.

Howrah Bridge
West Bengal was formerly known as ‘Banga’ and was spread over a vast area. Ruled by several dynasties from ancient times, the actual history of this region is, however, available from the Gupta period. The prosperity and the importance of the state increased largely when the British East India Company took over the place. It was a widespread, undivided Bengal province until under the terms of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, the province of Bengal ceased to exist. The Muslim-dominated districts, namely, Chittagong, Dacca and part of Presidency and Rajshahi division went to the present-day Bangladesh (the then East Pakistan, which later became independent & came to existence as Bangladesh) and the state of West Bengal came into existence in 1947.

Arts & Culture of West Bengal

Dhoti (lower part) and Punjabi

Tanter Saree

 The attire of the Bengali's is very much Indian in origin. The main dress for the male is a cotton Dhoti and silk or muslin Punjabi or Kurta with a long cloth that is placed on the shoulder and neck. The women wear cotton saris especially known as ‘Tanter Saree’, that is worn in a unique way. The ethnicity of the state is diversified. The majority of the people are Bengalis. Some of the tribal groups like the Santhals and Oraon live in the remote plains whereas, the Lepchas and Bhotias live in the Himalayan regions of the state. Eighty-five percent of the population speaks Bengali whereas the remaining speaks Hindi, Urdu and other tribal languages. 

Baul songs
Chau dance


Though the music of the state is not very old, it has gained a lot more maturity in its journey to perfection in the last 200 years. However, in the long run, Bengali music, especially Rabindra Sangeet, Nazrul Geeti and Baul songs have successfully made their mark in the realm of Indian music. Bengali dance forms draw from folk traditions, especially those of the tribal groups, as well as the broader Indian dance traditions. Chau dance of Purulia is a rare form of mask dance. Gaudiya Nritya is a classicalBengali school of Indian dance,originating in Gaur, the ancient capital of the Bengal region; now in the district Malda.. Various forms of Indian classical dances are patronised, as are dances set on the songs of Tagore and Nazrul. 

Among other types of theater, West Bengal has a tradition of folk drama known as 'Jatra'. The film industry also has produced many distinguished directors ,actors and actresses as well.The Oscar  winner (For life time achievement, the second Asian after Akira Kurosawa) Satyajit Roy is also from this state.

Satyajit Roy

The art and craft of West Bengal is known world over. Decent with the touch of minute observation, Bengali art and craft are unique. The leather products of Bengal are very famous all over the country. Terracotta works, Dokra Metal Craft, Wooden Mask and Scroll Paintings also are very popular almost all over the World.

Wooden Mask

Festivals of West Bengal

Durga Puja

Besides the other festivals of the Hindu solar calendar, Durga Puja is the one that gains the ultimate importance and attention in West Bengal. Durga Puja is an extravaganza of almost seven days, but, the preparation starts months before the actual event. New clothes are an integral part of Puja for every Bengalee. Besides Durga Puja; Saraswati Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Kali Puja and Janmashtami are some other festivals that are given special attention in Bengal. Among the secular festivals of Bengal, the most important are Poila Baishak (the Bengali New Year), The Birthday of the greatest Bengalee, Rabindra Nath Tagore (The first Asian Noble laureate) etc. The peple here are so joyous & love to celebrate so many festivals (Sometime even without reasons!!) that there is a popular saying in Bengal “We celebrate thirteen festivals in twelve months!!”  

Food of West Bengal

Sweets of Bengal

Bengali food is known all over for its varied taste and flavor. The cuisine contains sweets as well as other meal accompanying dishes. The sweets made from milk and curds, namely, Rasogolla, Sondesh, Malai Chomchom, Chana mukhi, and Raj Bhog are especially famous all over India. Above all, the fish preparation of Bengal is a culinary delight for the non-vegetarian food lovers. Fish of different varieties are prepared mostly with mustard oil and mustard seeds. Fish items are sometimes marinated in spices and sometimes cooked with curd. The ‘Ilish Macher Jhol’ or Hilsa Curry is an all-time favorite. Misti Doi or sweet curd is another delicacy worth mentioning. Rice is the staple food of Bengal. All but the very devout Hindus eat fish as a principal item of their food.

* From the next week, I'm going to publish the description of the districts of West Bengal.


  1. nice blog on Indian culture (:

  2. Thank you mo donika......please keep watching!