Hundreds of devotees thronged Kalighat temple in Kolkata to offer prayers on the first day of the Bengali New Year or ‘Poila Boishakh’.
People from the Bengali business community also offered prayers to Goddess Laxmi and Ganesh and got themselves a new Hal Khata (accounting book) for their shops, to mark the first day of transactions in the new year.
Speaking about the way they usually celebrate to mark the Bengali New Year, one of the devotees, Meghdeep Bhattacharya, said speaking to ANI, “Every Bengali New Year, we come here (Kalighat temple) to offer prayers to Laxmi-Ganesh and the Hal Khata in the morning since we have a shop. After that we offer prayers at our shop and go out to eat. This is our usual plan for the day. From here we will go to our shop and place Ganesh-Laxmi over there.”

Another devotee standing next to Bhattacharya, Samriddhi Chatterjee said, speaking to ANI, “It is a very special day for us. We try to do almost everything very traditionally because this day signifies us as Bengali. Today we offer prayers at the temple, spend quality time with our family, have Bengali lunch for sure and then there are so many events going on- maybe we will be going there.”

Explaining the concept of the Hal Khata, Chatterjee said, “People who have businesses usually have some dues from the past year. We keep all the bills with us. At the end of the year, we pay off all our dues and from today, we start a new Hal Khata where we will record everything for our business.”
Another devotee who is a regular at Kalighat temple on every Bengali New Year’s Day said that the temple is usually crowded on that day due to the huge rush of devotees.

“I am coming here for the last 42 years every year…It is more ususally crowded here on this day. Owing to the construction of the new road, devotees are facing some problem,” Sushant Bhowmik said speaking to ANI.
‘Poila Boishakh’ is observed by Bengalis all across the world irrespective of geographical location but the occasion has a special significance for Bengalis in Bangladesh and in Bengali-speaking areas of India including West Bengal, Tripura and Assam. (ANI)