Fair's & Festival's - West Bengal

Durga Puja (Autumn Festival)

Nothing but a direct experience can conjure up the magic which sweeps over Kolkata for the four days during Durga puja. The city thrives with an effervescent energy with collective revelry of 50 million people. The greatest carnival in the world in terms of the number of participants, Durga puja in Kolkata is often compared to Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Rio de Janeiro’s annual fiesta.

Lights, colours, entertainment, art, food, fashion and love! It is the time to create new bonds and strengthen old ones. Irrespective of class, caste and creed, the whole population of the city participate in the festivity. It is truly a people’s festival embracing all, from every walk of life.

The celebration happens all over Bengal. But it is in Kolkata that the unleashed imagination of its citizens takes form. The whole city becomes like an open art gallery. Over a thousand temporary pavilions are erected all over the city to house the goddess. The skills of these pavilion makers are probably unparallel in the world. With make-shift materials like cloth and bamboo, they create structures like palaces. The inspirations are from far and varied. From historical ages and monuments to weird science fictions!

Bishnupur Festival, Bishnupur (200 Kms One Way From Kolkata)

Held every year near the Madanmohana Temple, Bishnupur , the Festival celebrates the rich heritage of this temple town famous for its beautiful terracota temples and elegant silk sarees. Bishnupur, once the capital of the Malla Kings, is renowned for its crafts and is located about 100 kilometres northwest of Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.

The festival is immensely popular, characterized by exhibition and sale of local handicrafts and performance of the rich musical tradition that Bishnupur boasts of. Thousands of people come to this fair to buy various objects of handicrafts and rural artisan from different parts of West Bengal.

There are various stalls of art works and trinkets including sea-shell works, terracotta works and cloths, sweets etc. The whole process of making silk is depicted including the mulberry in pots with the silkworms eating away the leaves. A variety of cultural programmes are also held during this period. Bishnupur is also famous for its own school or Gharana of classical music (Vishnupur gharana).

Dol Jatra Celebrations (Holi Festival) In Visva-Bharati University, Shantiniketan (210kms one way from Kolkata)

Doljatra is observed with great gusto in Shantiniketan, in the campus of Visva-Bharati University. The students of Visva-Bharati start their preparations from long back. They take to decorate the whole campus with beautiful artistic 'alpana'. On the day of Doljatra, they being out 'Probhat-pheri' singing songs of Holi based on Rabindranath. Dance-dramas and skits are also presented on the occasion highlighting the importance of the occassions. Almost all students of the University take part in the event. Even the vice-chancellor joins the celebrations. The songs and dramas are filled with colourful clothes and the use of 'phaag' in keeping with the spirit of the occasion. People from all over Bengal throng to Bolpur to witness the events. It is from Shantiniketan that the usage of the term 'Basanta utsav' gained popularity. The celebration was initiated by the Gurudev (Tagore) himself and it continues till today.

Dover Lane Music Festival, Kolkata

Dover Lane Music Conference, one of the largest Indian Classical musical events is held in Kolkata for the past five decades. The music conference which started as a humble get together of some music lovers in the by lanes of south Kolkata in 1952, has now turned into one of the most, culturally important event of the year. Initially, it was a three day cultural program comprising of drama, light and classical songs. Gradually it became a purely Indian classical based programme, showcasing both vocal and instrumental Hindustani and Carnatic music. This festival provides a wonderful platform for the younger generation to come and perform with the best in the art. Every year a number of youngsters come and display their skills in front of a huge crowd.

The festival is conducted at Nazrul Mancha in Rabindra Sarobar (South Avenue) in Kolkata every year . The auditorium with a seating capacity of 3,500 gets packed with music enthusiasts from around the country during the event. For the six days this event is held, the city of Kolkata enjoys the presence of a number of eminent music maestros, which is a real treat for music lovers. The people of Kolkata consider this festival as a heritage event.

Boul Music Festival, Kolkata

The Baul gathering at Santiniketan, 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of Kolkata is held more or less three weeks before Jaydeva-Mela. A fair with rural characteristics is held every year at the ashram premises of Santiniketan on the 7th day of the Bengali month Pous (December -January) to commemorate the foundation day of Santiniketan.
The Joydev Mela is held at Kenduli, a small village near Tagore's Shantiniketan. However, this fair-cum-festival held in the early half of January and commemorating the birth of the Bhakti cult poet Jaydev is a wonderful way to connect with rural India. For three days, Baul minstrels, lovers of Baul music flock to this festival and lose themselves to the trance-like magic of Baul songs for 3 nights.

Gangasagar Mela (January)

The largest fair of the State, Gangasagar Mela is a three-day event held in mid-January, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, at Sagar Dwip in District South 24 Parganas. Lakhs of pilgrims come for a holy dip at the confluence of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal.