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Bongs In West Bengal Celebrate Valentine’s Day Twice, Here’s How


By Ishani Chakrabati

As we step into Vasant Panchami (spring, kids) and we march towards the end of the Valentine’s month, let’s take a while to appreciate nature’s beauty. And for the rest of the time let’s try to chalk down the series of events we have in the month of February.

Yes, we’re coming to your D/V-Day but wait, here’s a question for y’all: How does your valentine’s week start? Rose day?

Fun Fact: For all Bengalis, Valentine’s Day comes twice – Saraswati Pujo (Yes, mind the pronunciation) and the cliché Valentine’s day (But Saraswati pujo> >Valentine’s day for all bongs, okay?). In West Bengal, Saraswati Pujo is no less than an elaborate jamboree!

Just for your knowledge, Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge and arts. On this day, the goddess is worshiped not in only in homes and pandals but also schools. But for the Bengali youth, there’s a lot more to that – we’re all dressed to impress.

As the clouds paint luscious strokes across the morning sky and the day starts REALLY early, we manage to spend some good two hours in front of the mirror to ensure the sarees are right in place.

After all the fidgeting and over-consciousness about the attire, we finally succeed to take some time out and mumble those prayers because c’mon, we’ve got to pass those exams, ya.

And this is where the day starts from, a day of unrestrained freedom from studies and all that moral policing.

Dressed up beautifully in colors of spring- shades of yellow, orange and white, both men and women step out of their homes in hunt of the perfect one. Co-ed schools hold saraswati pujo like fairs and it’s a sight you need to witness!

The adolescent heart almost skips a beat as you see your crush amidst all the saree clad women or clean shaven men. And in case you already have a valentine, you’re good to go for a date to a nice restaurant or even the parks, you know? (wink-wink)

With hormones enraging, guileful are traded as starters. Finally, when the time of greeting actually arrives, the hearts wobble incoherently. Love pervades the air as couples trudge around as an inseparable unit everywhere.

On pandals, over schools (with those P.T instructor’s testament urgent attempt to check such outrage), near lakes, outside coaching classes and definitely not sparing those malls right in the middle of the city!

This is more like a tradition every year and the youngsters perform it with all their dedication, excitement and passion. But we trace its roots back to the time when there were almost zero co-ed schools in Bengal.

This was due to the fact that the general idea of  pop culture might have been a great deal for the people in early Bengal. Precisely because of the conservative beliefs and attitudes of people. The young people were confined from uninhibitedly blending with the opposite sex.

Saraswati Pujo used to be the one and only occasion which would quite literally open up doors to each other’s domain. This would be a breath of fresh air for the youngsters as compared to the everyday mundane and extremely strict lifestyle.

What’s more? Everybody would have been permitted to enter their premises on the grounds to offer prayers and prasad to god and indeed exchange a few glances.

“Necessity is the mother of invention” and this was the very necessity for teenagers back then because it was a platform to meet each other and the Pujo provided that much needed window of opportunity.

So you should remember that the 14th of February wasn’t even a thing in Bengal 40 years back.

Before teddies, chocolates, cards and those red roses, romance found its way in Bengal through yellow sarees and marigold flowers!

Picture Credits: Google Images

You’d also like to read: Bengalis Know How To Rule: Let’s Prove It To You Here

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