How Much Do You Know About Bengal’s Rich Culture?

By Shireen Gupta

Certain things in life are easy to overlook, most of these things are rarely of importance when seen through a skeptic eye but you have to understand my surprise when I found out that most of our nation has a genuine confusion when it comes to East India. East India, its culture included, has been confused with North East India one too many times.

North East India is a glorious region of its own but East India definitely has enough character to be distinguished from its Northern neighbor. Starting with the state of West Bengal, we will be familiarizing you with the idiosyncratic features of the great East.

The Famous Dakineshwarkali Temple built in the traditional ‘Nava-ratna’ or nine spires style of Bengal architecture

From celebrated poets singing of its grandeur to art that reflects a rare sense of philosophy, West Bengal is arguably the most popular state in Eastern India. Home to the capital of the country under British rule, West Bengal carries in itself a glimpse of a state torn in revolution. Through its architecture and tradition, Bengal puts forward its side of history, which it has in abundance.

Park Street in Calcutta during the British Era

When I say Durga Puja, a few bells will ring in your mind but what happens when I say Poush Mela? Poush Mela is one of the crucial gatherings taking place in Shantiniketan, the teaching city of world famous poet, Rabindranath Tagore. Sprawled across numerous acres of land, this mela or fair has people from different walks of life, putting up stalls that represent a fragment of themselves in food, art, craft or even music. To those seeking culture and a refresher in the art world, this fest is nothing but a treat.

Poush Mela Celebration at Shantiniketan. Image: Biswajit Dey

As we go looking for a cooler temperature in the piping hot weather of Bengal, we reach this small and joyous place going by the name of Darjeeling. Darjeeling is home to migrants who found their way to India from countries that surround. The migrants in question moved here several years ago, looking for peace in the time of unrest. Along with themselves, they brought their native traditions and most importantly, food to the country. As years have passed and generations have called the Republic home, their native foods have adapted to the tongues of every civilian, forming in itself a delicacy of its own with characteristics of both sides, set to appease both parents.

The infamous momo finds its root in Darjeeling.[/caption]

Art, food and architecture is what keeps a person breathing. As we cover the first two strands, we cannot forget the last. Being the British capital, Kolkata has architecture that is incredibly reminiscent of the Victorian Era. I shall not talk about the famous architecture, for you already know of it. The thing that will amuse most when they pay a visit to this city is that every building carries a constitution of its own. The mix of Victorian and Bengali will never be as sublime as any building covering the sides of New Market.

Victoria Memorial – A reminiscent of Victorian architecture.

West Bengal has always kept its head high, even in times of crisis, it has not lost its perception of tradition and it keeps on passing it to generations that are more than willing to push forward its virtue.

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