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After a long spell of dry and rough Winter comes Spring or Basanta – the season of revival. The world which had plunged into ‘hibernation’ starts coming back to life, regaining its momentum and vivaciousness.
While the rest of India celebrates Holi during this time, Bengal – home to the great Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, celebrates Basanta Utsav (Spring Festival), with fervor and grace unlike anything else.
Dancing to the rhythms of songs like
“ore grihabasi khol dwar khol” – marking the onset of the colorful fiesta,
followed by “Ore bhai phagun legeche bon e bon e”, “Rangiye diye jao, jao jao
go ebar” and other songs depicting the vibrancy and beauty of the season,
boys/men and girls/women of varying ages dressed in traditional attire (Dhoti-
Punjabi and Yellow/Basanti colored saris respectively) greet and smear each
other with abeer (gulal) of varying colors.
If you are in Kolkata you cannot afford to miss the Basanta Utsav celebration at Jorasanko Thakur Bari (the ancestral homes of the Tagores) situated at 6/4 Dwarakanath Tagore Lane, Jorasanko (near Girish Park Metro Station).
Note: the Basanta Utsav at Jorasanko Thakur Bari takes place a couple of days prior to the Basanta Utsav celebrations at Shantiniketan
Although the actual program starts at around 3 pm, reaching the venue a few hours in advance is a good option as the footfall increases by the minutes and thousands flock the venue to experience this cultural grandeur
If you are a photographer reaching early is a definite yes, else you may find yourself witnessing something like this …
This was my first time at this event and along with my cousins and few friends it was one great experience. Photographing them play with abeer and getting myself colored too.
Once you have stepped inside the venue you can feel the energy and enthusiasm that is at the core of this mass gathering, pulling in people from half way across the world and of varied age, gender and faith.
As the program commences, the performers approach the ‘stage’ ( the open field ) in a line formation dancing with sticks in dandiya style to the rhythm of Tagore’s
“ ওরে গৃহবাসী খোল্, দ্বার খোল্, লাগল যে দোল।
স্থলে জলে বনতলে লাগল যে দোল।
দ্বার খোল্, দ্বার খোল্॥ ”
(O home dwellers open thy door for carnival of colors
Colors have struck on land, water and on forest floors.
Open thy door)
While the performances by the students of Rabindra Bharati University go on, simultaneously guests and visitors engage in playful fights, smearing and throwing colors at each other, often posing for photos and selfies 🙂
The official program continues to the late afternoon (around 5.30).
The end of the program only marks the start of a second wave of celebration by the elated crowd. Dancing and singing to the tunes of the euphoriant Dholak (Dhol) and throwing of abeer in the air, it’s a treat for the eyes
A day of great enjoyment and fun coupled with a few good photos, next in line is Shantiniketan – the abode of peace (and enlightenment).
Do check out the post on my experience and photographs from Shantiniketan.
The inaugural song – Ore Grihabashi – by Bangla Band Dohar. ( may not work with all browsers)
This post contains photos of persons, most of whom I do not personally know. If you find photos of yourself in this post, please feel free to contact me for a high resolution copy of the same.