(Last Updated on : 31/07/2013)
Culture of West Bengal
boasts its enduring richness in the reformation movements, making the whole of Oriental culture an upheaval. The proponents of Bengal Renaissance, Ram Mohan Roy
, Vidyasagar, and also the Young Bengalis had largely contributed in curbing the culture of West Bengal in the mold of Western thoughts. However the tradition and ethnicity were not uprooted, rather they were enmeshed with the new trends. Thus a cosmopolitan mindset was the natural outcome, embedding both the pros and cons of both the cultural practices.
Music and Dance of West Bengal
The whole of Bengal are mesmerized by the eloquent music and dance styles. Truly Bengali music and dance is an inseparable part of the culture of West Bengal. Music comprises a long tradition of religious and secular themes, belonging to the North Indian classical musical `gharana`. Tappa is a classical song, which had great vogue in nineteenth century Bengal. Ramnidhi Gupta or Nidhu Babu is its proponent and ha had penned a number of wonderful songs in Bengali. Thumri was a later arrival, having been introduced by Nawab Wazid Ali Shah of Oudh. Thumri
was the lightest of all classical styles. Kazi Nazural Islam and Atulprasad Sen wrote bubbling love Thumri songs.
Musical instruments are used to express the musical splendor. The "ektara
", a single string instrument, mostly expended by Baul singers are pretty common among rural areas. Dugi, dotara, kartal, mandira and percussion instruments like dhol and khol are also used by the musicians during the performance.
The early 1990s, was marked by the arrival of new genre of what has been called Jeebonmukhi Gaan (a modern genre based on realism) Artists like Anjan Dutta, Nachiketa and bands like Chandrabindu, Cactus are the greatest advocates of this genre of modern Bengal.
The popular dance forms belong to both classical Indian dance forms and desi dances of tribal populace. Chhau dance of Purulia is a rare form of mask dance. Chhau dance of Purulia has some features of archaic `ritualistic` dance in its dynamism, fashion and support primarily the drum. Dancers applied as facial painting or body painting as the symbolic representations. They were thus distinguished as personifying the characters and the masks are worn afterwards.
Apart from these, the credit goes to danseuse Uday Shankar for attributing his innovative dance in the manner of European ballet.
Festivals of West Bengal
Through out the world, West Bengal is known for its plethora of festivals. The culture of West Bengal too is enriched by the festivals and also multiple rituals and rites associated with these festivals. There is hardly any Bengali left in the region that is not awe-struck and gets enthralled by the festivity and vivacity of Durga Puja
. It is not only the main festival of West Bengal and it is feted in the autumn season. It commemorates the annual visit of Goddess Durga with her four children, namely Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikaya to her parent`s home on earth from her celestial residence on Mount Kailas. It is the largest Hindu festival and Bengalis celebrate it with new clothes and other gifts. It is a grand time for the Bengalis who wear gaily coloured new dresses and are also given edibles, especially sweets, to feed. The puja goes on for five days, commencing with the ritualistic induction of the goddess. The ceremony of worship continues for three days and ends with the dousing of the effigy in a river or a tank on the `Vijaya Dashami`. Many thousands of pujas are organized in different `mohallas`, whirls an exalted display with a fair-like atmosphere in the streets of Calcutta.
Although it is a Hindu festival, the people of varied communities participate in this pomp and grandeur of Durgostav. The festive season continues till Kali puja, which takes place about three weeks later. She is the Goddess of aboriginal ability, a Tantrik construct. Animal sacrifices are usually made to the Goddess except in the pujas organised by public subscription. Diwali
is the festival of light and is feted on the night predating Kali-Puja. Every home of Bengalis is illuminated with lamps and a fantastic show of firecrackers is observed.
Cuisine of West Bengal
No wonders, the delicious foods of Bengal are savored in great revel by all the foodies both within the country as well as abroad. Sumptuous cuisine is an integral element of the culture of West Bengal. Rice and fish have become the trademarks of the Bengali community. All fish-made dishes include hilsa preparations, a favourite among Bengalis. Sweets accommodate a status of prideful ness and prestige for the Bengalis. Sweet delicacies like sandesh, rosogolla, chanar payesh, Chomchom, Kalojam and several kinds of Pithe are held in high esteem by all the sweet-savors of the whole country. Bengali cook has also developed the expertise in preparing a special sweet from date palm jaggary called Patali gur. Every territory in Bengal has an especial confection of its own. Langcha and mihidana-sitabhog of Bardhaman, sharbhaja of Krishnanagar, chanabora of Murshidabad
are worthy to mention. `Panta bhat` is a conventional dish devoured in all the Bengali village households. Every Bengali enlisted a whole lot of crispy and crunchy snacks in their meals. Luchi, cholaar dal, kochuri and alurdom to chop-cutlet and telebhaja, Beguni, Kati roll, phuchka are being relished by all the Bengalis of varied age to their hearts` content.
Literature of West Bengal
The Bengali language is a blend of Indo-Aryan speech. Bengali is the first Indian language to adopt western secular literary styles, such as fiction and drama. The Bangla language boasts a rich literary heritage, with a flamboyant tradition in folk literature, attested by the masterpieces like Shreekrishna Kirtana, Charyapada, Mangalkavya. In the nineteenth and twentieth century, Bengali literature
was modernised in the influences of authors such as Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Michael Madhusudan Dutt