Pahela Baishakh: Bengali New Year’s Day - April 14th

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Musical InstrumentsPahela Baishakh - April 14 on the English calendar - is the oldest, largest secular event in the Bengali year. Intrinsically a part of Bengali culture, folk tradition, and the land itself, Bengali New Year celebrates the agricultural seasons, links with economics and productivity, and offers families hope for the future.

Actually, in the 16th century, the great Mughal emperor Akbar set up the Bangla calendar rooted in the agricultural cycle; so the Bengali year is known as the “crop-year.”   Paleha Baishakh, which simply means “the first day of the month of Baishakh,” was time to collect taxes and open new account books for businesses.

Nowadays, the old year ends with people repaying all debts at local shops and beginning the new year with a clean slate.  In country, village, and city alike, the new year is celebrated with week-long fairs and cultural shows.  At these festivals, people of all ages delight in their rich Bengali heritage.