Festivals of Shantiniketan -The Celebration of Diversity and Rich Culture – panthashala

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Festivals of Shantiniketan -The Celebration of Diversity and Rich Culture

Festivals in Shantiniketan are unique as they transcended the narrow denominational boundaries of religion, caste, creed and class. Situated in Birbhum district in West Bengal, Shantiniketan lures travellers into the land of ‘rangamati’ (red soil) and ‘Palashphul’ (forest flower) with its incredible charm and surreal romanticism. Being the cradle of the Bengali Renaissance, especially because of its close ties with Rabindranath Tagore, Shantiniketan is regarded as the cultural hot spot for all art-loving people. It was Tagore who introduced the celebration of seasons at Shantiniketan and linked collective arts, crafts and rural cottage industry very closely to the festivities. Every season here brings its own colours and beauties with various festivals. Panthashala offers resorts near Shantiniketan where tourists can enjoy homely meals and witness the flavour of these festivals thoroughly. Some of the most popular festivals are:

Basanta Utsav:

The festival of colours celebrated all over India, known as ‘Holi’ or ‘Doljatra’ is ‘BasantaUtsav’ in Shantiniketan. This festival was started by Rabindranath Tagore that represented a holistic celebration of diversity that included all. ‘Basanta Utsav’ denotes the arrival of spring when nature decks itself in a tumultuous burst of colours as Palash, Malati and Ashoke bloom. In Santiniketan, the festival is celebrated with colourful cultural programmes. It is a universal festival with its own dignity graced by dance and music, performed by local artists and the students of the University. Performers decked in colourful saris, dancing to Tagore’s songs of Basanta, placing ‘aabir’ (coloured powder) on the feet of the elders – add grace to the spirit of festivity that gets mingled with the spirit of togetherness.

Poush Mela:

Poush Mela is celebrated for three days in mid-December that takes place in the large Mela Maath opposite the ashram. Poush Mela is an annual fair and festival that marks the harvest season. The event is characterized by its live performances of Bengali folk music, specially Bauls, tribal dance (Santhali), firework displays. The rows of stalls here sell a wide variety of products like toys, garments, books, household items, utensils and local handicrafts. The fair offers a perfect insight of the true heritage of the place and the performance of the students add the zest in this festival.Poush Mela integrates the Santhals and the locals with the students.Guest houses near VisvaBharati get booked in advance as tourists are eternally attracted to Shantiniketan during Poush Mela.

Rabindra Jayanti:

Rabindra Jayanti (25she Boisakh according to Bengali calendar) denotes the birth anniversary of Kobiguru Rabindranath Tagore. On this day, Shantiniketan pays its homage to its founding father through cultural programmes by the students and teachers of Visva-Bharati. Shantiniketan comes alive remembering Tagore in its own way through poetry, dance and drama, written and composed by him.

Vriksharopan and Halkarshan:

Tagore always emphasized on the co-existence of nature and mankind. Vriksha-Ropan (tree planting festival) and Halakarshan (plough festival) pioneered by Tagore is a part of an annual environmental awareness campaign, which continue in Shantiniketan till date. Saplings are planted accompanied by chanting of Vedic Mantras, singing and dancing. The Vriksharopan ceremony is preceded by Halokarshan (ploughing) aimed at endowing the work of ploughing with the dignity, almost sacredness, that was its due. Tagore was against the ruthless deforestation of the countryside. These festivals are meant to invoke nature’s fertility and symbolizing its ever-recurring youth through dance, music and mantra.

Barsha Mangal:

It is the festival of poems. Barsha Mangal takes place in the month of July-August to celebrate the advent of the rainy season. Tagore was eternally fascinated by the beauty of nature during monsoon. It’s an evening of cultural performance set to the poems, plays and songs by Tagore attended by poets and art enthusiasts across the country.