The first day of the Bengali calendar is celebrated as Poila Boishakh, also known as Bangla Noboborsho. This year, Bengalis will celebrate the festival amid the shadow of COVID-19 in West Bengal, Tripura and Assam on April 15. Poila Boishakh, as the name suggests, is the first day of the first month of Boishakh in the lunisolar Bengali calendar and usually falls on April 14 or 15. It is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm every year and the fervour remain high.
On this auspicious occasion, fairs are organized in cities, where people meet and greet each other by saying, “Shubho Nobobarsho,” which translates to Happy New Year. Usually, people purchase new clothes and have a gala time together on this day. This year, the celebrations may be dampened due to coronavirus pandemic.
History of Poila Boishakh
The tradition of celebration of the festival dates back to the Mughal era. Folklores tells that the occasion came into existence after the tradition was introduced in West Bengal during the time-period of emperor Akbar in an attempt to come up with a fixed day every year on which the tax on the harvest could be collected.
It is believed that royal astronomer Fathullah Shirazi was asked by Akbar to create a new calendar combining the lunar Islamic calendar and solar Hindu calendar already in use. Shirazi created a new harvest calendar –Fasholi Shan and it was believed to be the advent of the Bengali calendar. The Bengali Hindu communities living in rural Bengal credits emperor Vikramaditya for the creation of Bengali calendar.
Significance of Poila Boishakh
On this day, many shops and businesses invite regular customers and give them some token of appreciation as the festival also marks the start of a financial cycle. Being an auspicious day, some stores even start a new book for maintaining customer records. On this day, people pray to Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi for a prosperous business.