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Calcutta is a city of festivals – religious, social and cultural. It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that there are more festival days than workdays in Calcutta. Most festivals, religious ones included, are usually open to all who do not cause disruptions, which makes Calcutta a good venue to study Indian culture and rituals from close. The following is a list of festivals in the chronological order of their celebration. Moslem festivals follow the lunar Islamic calendar so that they shift around the Gregorian calendar and are therefore listed at the end.

New Year

January 1, the Christian New Year, is celebrated by all. New Year parties happen at all clubs and most restaurants and the Park Street/Chowringhee areas are thronged with revelers, although their number is usually lower than on Christmas. Ramakrishna Mission celebrates New Year at the Cossipore Udyan Bati (Garden House), where Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, a 19th century holy man, who preached that all religions led to the same God, breathed his last.

Orthodox Christmas

Calcutta’s Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar on January 6. The celebrations are focused around the institutions of the Armenian and Greek communities, most notably the Armenian Orthodox Holy Church of Nazareth (the oldest Christian place of worship in Calcutta, built in 1707 on the site of an Armenian cemetery with graves dating back to 1630) located at 2 Armenian Street, Calcutta 700001 (Phone: +91-33-2242 4308, nearest Metro station: Central, Chandni Chowk), the Armenian College (also the birthplace of the English novelist, William Makepeace Thackeray, of “Vanity Fair” fame) located at 56B Free School Street, Calcutta 700016 (Phone: +91-33-2229 9051, nearest Metro station: Park Street), the Armenian Club located at 21 Park Street (Phone: +91-33-2229 8538, nearest Metro station: Park Street) and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration of Christ located at 2A Library Road, Calcutta 700026 (Phone: +91-33-2464 2997, nearest Metro stations: Jatin Dass Park, Kalighat).

St. John the Baptist Day

The Armenian community of Calcutta gathers at St. John the Baptist Church in Chinsurah (reached easily by commuter train from Howrah, nearest commuter train station: Chuchura) in January to celebrate the feats day of the saint. This church, erected in 1695, is the second oldest church in the Calcutta metropolitan area after the Bandel Church, which was consecrated in 1599.

Calcutta Book Fair

The Publishers & Booksellers’ Guild of India organizes the Calcutta Book Fair for three weeks every year in January. First held in 1975, the fair has grown into one of the biggest book fairs in the world, attracting over a million visitors and publishers from around the world. The Book Fair has been held next to the Victoria Memorial on the Maidan since 1975, but the last time it shall be held there will be in 2004. Starting April 2004, all exhibitions in the Maidan area, including the Book Fair will be moving to the new fair grounds across from the Science City (nearest commuter train station: Park Circus).

Pous Sankranti

This festival marks the end of the month of Pous, according to the Bengali calendar and occurs between January 12 and 14. The most visible tourist highlight is the Sagar Mela (Sea Fair, literally) held at Diamond Harbour (150 kilometers/93 miles from Calcutta, reached by commuter train from Sealdah), when about a million Hindu pilgrims from all over India (and from as far as Fiji, Mauritius and Surinam) bathe at the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal. Closer home, Pous Sankranti is traditionally the time when Bengali women make special dishes at home, mostly sweet, some savory, that are collectively known as pithey. There is no set description for pithey, except that they are all vegetarian. The common ingredients are rice flour, semolina, sweet potatoes or moong beans for the carbohydrates, date palm sugar (which is at its best at this time of the year), milk (regular or desiccated) and coconuts, although they are by no means restricted to these. Every household has several of its own authentic and unique recipes and it is not easy to come across one that is short of delicious. Pithey is a domestic tradition and so far none of Calcutta’s sweetshops (which are probably one in every three business establishments in most residential neighborhoods) have dared to invade this bastion of the Bengali lady. If you happen to be in Calcutta at this time, you should look into being invited to a Bengali home for pithey.

Shantiniketan Baul Festival

This festival is held for three days after Pous Sankranti in Bolpur (150 kilometers/93 miles west of Calcutta, reached by train from Howrah). Bauls are wandering minstrels who preach a form of mysticism that transcends religious boundaries, through songs. They may be Vaishnavite Hindu or Sufi Muslims, but their songs speak of universal values and comprise a significant portion of Bengali folklore and spirituality. Bauls from all over Bengal and neighboring Bangladesh arrive in Bolpur, which is also home to the Vishwa Bharati University, established by Rabindranath Tagore and where he spent much of his life, and sing and dance for three days. This is a great opportunity to witness Indian mysticism from close quarters and also provides an opportunity to see Tagore’s lasting legacy in the university.

Netaji’s Birthday

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birthday is one of the major civil festivals in Calcutta. Subhas Chandra Bose is one of the most notable Indian freedom fighters, who was educated in Calcutta and in London and destined to join the prestigious Indian Civil Service, but who gave all that up to join the Indian National Congress. He rose rapidly in the ranks of the Congress, becoming Mayor of Calcutta, but his firebrand politics was seen as a challenge to the ways of Mahatma Gandhi. This led to a showdown at the Haripura Congress, where he was elected to be the president of the Congress but no one dared defy Gandhi to Bose’s executive council. Bose resigned from the Congress to form his own political party, the Forward Bloc (which exists to this day and is a lesser member of the leftist coalition that rules West Bengal today). He was subsequently arrested by the British authorities and placed under house arrest at his home in Bhowanipore, from where he escaped, to Germany to press Hitler for support against the British. However, Hitler did not exactly see Indians as full-fledged humans and did not extend much support, so Bose made it to Japan and then to Singapore where he established the Indian National Army from among the Indian prisoners of war. The Indian National Army joined the Japanese forces in Burma for an attack on India and managed to take parts of Manipur and Nagaland in the northeast in 1945. However, Japan soon surrendered and Bose disappeared mysteriously after an air crash in Taiwan the same year. The disappearance of Bose is an enduring mystery and conspiracy theories abound, much like the Kennedy assassination. However, Bose is undoubtedly the most celebrated political leader of the pre-independence period from Calcutta. On his birthday on January 23, speeches and gatherings take place at the two most notable of his statues, one in the Maidan and the other at Shyambazar (near Shyambazar Metro Station). Functions are also held at his house in Bhowanipore (near Netaji Bhawan Metro Station), which also houses a museum dedicated to Bose.

Dover Lane Music Festival

This festival started as a musical soiree for residents of what was then a rather nondescript but upscale street in south Calcutta by the name of Dover Lane, but is now perhaps the largest independent music festival in India. Although the name does not indicate so, this is a festival of Indian classical music, both Hindustani and Carnatic styles. The festival is now much larger than accommodations at Dover Lane would permit and has actually moved to the Nazrul Mancha Auditorium located at *****(Phone: +91-33-2*******, nearest commuter train station: Dhakuria). Most leading exponents of Indian classical music, including the world-renowned sitar maestro Ravi Shankar perform here. The festival is held from January 22 to 26.

Republic Day

India adopted a constitution and was proclaimed a republic on January 26, 1950, so January 26 is celebrated as Republic Day, one of the three national holidays in India when everything is officially closed. While flag hoisting ceremonies are held all over, the most spectacular ceremony is held along Red Road in the Maidan. A colorful parade of the regiments stationed in Fort William, the (erstwhile Royal) Calcutta Mounted Police and other law enforcement agencies is held, followed by beautiful floats representing the districts of West Bengal and performances by school children. This is a smaller version of the massive Republic Day parade held in Delhi.

Saraswati Puja

Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of learning (which includes literature, arts and music, similar to Minerva of ancient Greece, except that she has relieved herself of the added responsibilities of War that Minerva has), and in a city that measures itself by literature, art and music, the high holy day in the honor of the goddess of learning is a big deal. Pujas are held individually at homes of students and teachers and at all academic and cultural institutions. Honoring the goddess who is the allegorical representation of knowledge is a tradition that transcends communal lines. Even institutions like St. Xavier’s College, which is run by Jesuit priests observe Saraswati Puja, while it is not uncommon at all to see Moslem and Christian students participate in the celebrations if not in the actual act of obeisance. On this day, boys and girls may be seen dressed in their traditional best – saris and pajama-panjabi (kurta in the rest of India), over the more utilitarian western clothes that they otherwise wear, and headed to or from the puja. Saraswati Puja is observed in accordance with the lunar calendar and falls usually in the end of January of early February.

Chinese New Year

At the end of January or early February, Calcutta’s very visible Chinese community celebrates Chinese New Year noisily with firecrackers and dragon dances in front of all Chinese homes, businesses and public establishments and feasts that are reminiscent of similar festivities in all areas of Chinese presence from San Francisco to Sydney. The remnants of the old Chinatown in and around Sun Yat Sen Street and Peters Lane (near Central or Chandni Chowk Metro stations), the Chinese shoe district on Bentinck Street (near Esplanade or Chandni Chowk Metro Stations) and the new Chinatown at Tangra (near Park Circus train station) are the main areas of activity.

Dol Purnima

In March, the festival of Dol Purnima (or Holi as it is called in northern India) is celebrated. This is the festival of colors and heralds the arrival of the short spring. People smear each other with colored powders and throw colored water at passers-by. No social barriers exist. Depending upon how seriously you take private space, you may like it or would be better off to stay away (do not try going elsewhere in India either because the festival is celebrated in the same fashion all over the country), but definitely plan on dressing in expendable clothes because they will be rendered unwearable for other occasions, after the celebration.

Ching Ming

In March again, the Chinese celebrate the Festival of the Dead with prayers, offerings and firecrackers at the Cantonese and Hakka Si Yu, Tsong Fa, Tong Oon and Chung Lai Shan Tong cemeteries near the Tangra Chinatown.

Passover

Calcutta’s Jewish community observes Passover in April (date varies) and besides celebrations at home, they are held at the Maghen David and Beth El Synagogues, both near Brabourne Road (nearest Metro station: Central). Kosher for Passover goodies are available at the third generation Jewish bakery Nahoum’s in New Market (nearest Metro station: Esplanade).

Nabobarsho

Nabobarsho, the Bengali New Year is celebrated on the first day of the month of Baisakh, which corresponds with April 14 (give or take 1 day, to accommodate the leap years in both calendars). This day is traditionally the beginning of the business year and independent businessmen close their annual accounts prior to Nabobarsho. Shops are decorated with flower garlands and auspicious mango leaves. In the evenings friends show up at businesses and make token purchases and payments as an omen for more money coming in for the rest of the day, while business owners offer them the traditional hospitality of sweets and (non-alcoholic) drinks. The main area of action is the Burrabazar area (nearest Metro stations: Central, Mahatma Gandhi Road and Girish Park, commuter train station: Burrabazar) and the Shyambazar-Sovabazar area (nearest Metro stations: Shyambazar, Sovabazar, Girish Park, commuter train stations: Bagbazar, Sovabazar-Ahiritola).

Mahavir Jayanti

Also in April, the Jain community in Calcutta celebrates Mahavir Jayanti, to mark the birthday of the last and greatest Jain prophet, Mahavir (who was born either in 615 or 599 BCE, depending on which sect of the Jains you talk to). Mahavir was the a contemporary of the Buddha but older, and spoke of non-violence and sacrifice to the extreme, which is why his followers today are not only vegetarian but would also not eat after dark, cover their mouths, and not keep any pets so that they do not inadvertently harm any living creature. The celebrations are especially marked at the two Jain Temples and culminate in opulent processions from Mahatma Gandhi Road (nearest Metro station: Mahatma Gandhi Road) to Kalakar Street and from Belgatchia (nearest Metro station: Belgatchia) to Baisakh Lane.

May Day

For a city ruled by a democratically elected communist coalition for the last 26 years, it is only obvious that May Day would be a big civic celebration on May 1. This is marked by political rallies around the Ochterlony Monument attended by thousands of people with politicians waxing eloquent about the joys of the “Great October Revolution” or the “Long March”, some of who would probably tend to their parched and hoarse throats with scotch on the rocks at Calcutta Club.

Buddha Jayanti

Buddhists in Calcutta celebrate the Buddha’s birthday in the first week of May. Celebrations occur at Buddhist temples and especially at the Mahabodhi Society of India located at 4A Bankim Chandra Street, Calcutta 700073 (Phone: +91-33-2241 5214, near Central Metro Station).

Rabindra Jayanti

Calcutta celebrates its favorite son, the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s birthday on May 9 (or thereabouts due to leap year adjustments) with song and dance shows on the streets and in almost all cultural institutions in the city. The focal points are the Tagore’s ancestral house in Jorasanko (nearest Metro stations: Mahatma Gandhi Road, Girish Park, nearest commuter train station: Burrabazar) and at the auditorium bearing his name, Rabindra Sadan (nearest Metro station: Rabindra Sadan) where a fortnight long cultural festival is organized.

Rath Yatra

After the relative lull of the oppressive summer, Calcutta wakes up to its first major festival of the monsoons in the form of the Rath Yatra of Jagannath (an incarnation of Vishnu and Krishna). This involves a chariot ride for the deity together with his brother Balaram and sister Subhadra to signify a visit to their aunt’s abode. The International Society for Krsna Consciousness (ISKCON) today carries out the biggest procession for Krsna Consciousness (ISKCON) as it is does in most big cities around the world. More information about the ISKCON celebrations can be had from their Calcutta center located at 3C Albert Road, Calcutta 700017 (Phone: +91-33-2247 3757, spci@giascl01.vsnl.net.in). Before ISKCON became prominent in the 1960s and 70s, the primary address of the Jagannath Rath Yatra festival was the Jagannath temple of Mahesh in Serampore (reached by a short commuter train ride from Howrah). Children all over Calcutta also run little decorated replicas of the chariots with the deities through porches and streets in the evening.

Independence Day

Calcutta celebrates the anniversary of India’s independence on August 15, like the rest of the country. This is one of the three national holidays as well. The focal point of the celebrations is the Brigade Parade Ground on the Maidan (nearest Metro station: Esplanade) but the ceremonies are a lot more subdued than those of the Republic Day.

Janmashtami

Janmashtami, observed towards the end of August is the second major Vaishnavite festival in Calcutta, and marks the birth of Lord Krishna (the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, the ninth being Buddha). The story of the birth of Krishna has amazing similarities with the birth of Christ. Krishna too was born at midnight and away from home (in a prison where his parents were imprisoned by his uncle, the evil king, who meant to destroy the child as soon as he was born) and miracles led to his safe disposal with his foster parents where he grew up and then returned to slay his uncle and redeem his parents before saving humanity from evil and destruction. Children put up scenes of his birth much in the same way as scenes depicting the nativity are put up all around the world. Of course, with the advent of ISKCON, the focal point of the celebrations has moved to the ISKCON center located at 3C Albert Road, Calcutta 700017 (Phone: +91-33-2247 3757, spci@giascl01.vsnl.net.in) and even more notably at the ISKCON world headquarters located about 100 kilometers away in Mayapur (Phone: +91-3472-245213, mayapur.chandrodaya@pamho.net). ISKCON runs buses from their Calcutta center to Mayapur and back and Mayapur can also be reached very easily by commuter train to Nabadwip Dham from Howrah or Krishnanagar from Sealdah and a very interesting boat trip up the river.

Ganesh Puja

In early September, Calcutta observes the festival in honor of Ganesh, widely recognized as the elephant god in the West. Ganesh is the ruling deity of luck and fortune, and most Hindu houses have an image of Ganesh, for good luck as well as for aesthetic purposes. Ganesh Puja is especially celebrated by expatriates from the south, west and the neighboring state of Orissa and is most visible in and around Lake Market (nearest Metro station: Kalighat) and the Burrabazar area (nearest Metro stations: Mahatma Gandhi Road, Central, Chandni Chowk, commuter train station: Burrabazar).

Vishwakarma Puja

Calcutta celebrates the festival of the deity presiding over engineering and technology about two weeks after Ganesh Puja. Celebrations are centered on any institution that has to do with machinery – utilities, transportation systems, factories or workshops for artisans. An image of Vishwakarma is decorated and offerings are made and buses and trams go around the city decked in flower garlands. Vishwakarma Puja also signifies the start of the Calcutta season and people begin actively preparing for the greatest of Calcutta’s festivals – the Durga Puja.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday

October 2 is Gandhi’s birthday and the last of the three national holidays in India. Like the rest of India, it is observed in Calcutta too, with all-faith prayer meetings, especially at Gandhi Ghat in Barrackpore (reached by commuter train from Sealdah).

Durga Puja

Durga Puja is the largest and most visible of all festivals in Calcutta. It is celebrated over 10 days, with the pitch reaching a crescendo in the last four. The last day of the festival is Bijoya Dashami (which roughly translates to the 10th day of the lunar month that is dedicated to Victory), which signifies the victory of good over evil. Hindu mythology speaks of several such victories on this day, notably that of Rama (the seventh incarnation of Vishnu) over the evil king, Ravana of Sri Lanka (celebrated the same day as Dussehra in northern India and in the state of Karnataka in the south) and the much earlier victory of Durga, the Mother Goddess over Mahishasura, the Buffalo Demon, who had before he turned to evil ways had pleased Brahma, the creator with his devotion and obtained a blessing rendering all males unable to vanquish him, and the need for the gods to create the Mother Goddess with all their individual powers (celebrated in eastern India).  Also, according to Hindu mythology, Durga who was the daughter of the king Daksha (whose domain was the plains), fell in love with Shiva (the ruling deity of destruction), married him and left her father’s house to live with her husband in his abode on Mount Kailash in the Himalayas. Every year however, she would return to pay a visit to her parents in the plains with her four children (Ganesh, the god of luck, Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and Kartik, the god of beauty). It is in this form that Durga is worshipped during the ten days of creative frenzy that marks her festival. Everyone wears new clothes (involving shopping that starts weeks in advance) and houses and streets go through the equivalent of spring-cleaning in the America. Over 5000 public Durga Pujas are held in makeshift enclosures (called pandals, locally) and both the images and the pandals are entrusted to artists and sculptors, whose creativity ranges from the most traditional to the most avant-garde. Competitions are held for the best images and the best pandals, with religious activities taking a backseat in this city that can never have enough of art and culture. Creativity is only checked by the strict regulations of the fire department and the pollution control board (that has significantly reduced the not-so-pleasant impact of blaring loudspeakers).

The images are traditionally hand-sculpted with clay, but all kinds of new materials from recycled paper to ice have been used. The traditional clay images can be seen in various states of construction at Sovabazar Kumartuli (nearest Metro stations: Sovabazar, Shyambazar, commuter train station: Sovabazar-Ahiritola, actually the Circular Railway line from Dum Dum to Prinsep Ghat goes right past the district), with the most interesting moment being the painting of the eyes by the master sculptor, often an old gentleman with a wheezing cough and eyeglasses that suggest he can barely look beyond a few feet who has to be held to reach the face of the image. There is a moment where spectators hold their breath as the eye is rendered and the image is completed.

The first day of Durga Puja is Mahalaya (the day the Durga starts her trip to the plains), which is also the day that people remember their past ancestors with prayers on the banks of the river, but which for the last several decades is dominated by a cultural ritual. This is the broadcast of the Mahishasuramardini program on All India Radio which starts at 4 a.m. and continues until 6 a.m. The program was conducted by the famed actor, director and singer of the 1930s – Pankaj Mullick although it is best known for the chants of the scriptures in the booming voices of the late Birendra Krishna Bhadra, interspersed by songs of the leading Bengali singers at the time. This program is so appreciated that it continues to be broadcast from the last live recording made in 1970. There were attempts to redo the concept in a more contemporary manner but that did not sit well with the public and was abandoned after a few years. The broadcast takes on an ethereal quality in the residential neighborhoods as people wake up and turn on the radio so that after a while it can be heard wherever you are in the neighborhood.

The last four days (Durga actually arrives on the sixth) is marked with hectic activity when people rush about pandal-hopping, to catch a glimpse of the most beautiful pandals and images. Many of the aristocratic families in north Calcutta continue to have their own Durga Pujas (which are nevertheless open to the public) and these are the places where conservative elders ensure that traditions are not broken.

On the tenth day, the images are carried in a procession for immersion in the Ganges, signifying the departure of Durga and the fact that all things good or bad must come to an end. There is a general feeling of sadness, but that is soon replaced by the Bijoya celebrations when people visit friends and family, to exchange greetings, seek blessings from elders and consume enormous quantities of Calcutta’s culinary delights. In spite of Durga Puja being a Hindu festival, all residents of Calcutta seem to participate in the festival irrespective of their religious affiliations.

Kali Puja/Diwali

Roughly twenty days after Durga Puja, Calcutta celebrates the festival of lights like the rest of India. Diwali is the most widely celebrated Hindu festival in India and it is the excesses of Durga Puja and not any lack in fervor that relegates this festival to the second position in Calcutta. While the rest of India dedicates this festival to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, in Calcutta as in Bengal and most parts of eastern India, this is dedicated to Kali, an incarnation of Durga who is also the destroyer of evil. Mythology says that Kali became so disgusted with evil in humans that she went on a rampage to destroy all humanity. As she went running about destroying, her husband Shiva (himself the presiding deity of destruction) lay on her path, hoping to stop her. It was only when she stepped on her husband that she realized her folly and froze in that position with her tongue sticking out in shame. This is the form in which Kali is worshipped at the temples in Dakshineswar (nearest commuter train station: Dakshineswar) and Kali Ghat (nearest Metro and commuter train stations: Kalighat) (and a myriad others in and around Calcutta and as far as in Washington DC) round the year and also in pandals across the city. Kali’s realization, not to mention her vanquishing of evil, is celebrated by all by lighting oil lamps and candles and fireworks and by a spectacular demonstration of the wonderful animation created by colored light bulbs, a hallmark of artists from Chandernagor (recently recognized worldwide by a display at the Thames Festival in London) and the consumption of more sweets. People who originally came from other parts of the country and many Bengali Hindus, especially Vaishnavites, dedicate the festival to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, but the celebrations are indistinguishable. Non-Hindus participate in the non-religious aspects of the festival. Two days later, Bengalis celebrate the festival of Bhai Phonta, when sisters bless their brothers by applying a little bit of sandalwood paste to their foreheads and an exchange of gifts and sweets between brothers and sisters follows.

Jagadhatri Puja

Nine days after Kali Puja, the former French enclave of Chandernagor (reached by commuter train from Howrah) celebrates the festival of another form of Durga (Jagadhatri literally means “Mother of the World”). This is a slightly scaled down version of Durga Puja, partly because it is localized, but also is a great opportunity to see fine specimens of the famous Chandernagor lighting, an art form in itself.

Christmas

Christmas is celebrated in Calcutta in a big way and not by Christians alone. While areas with strong European influences like Park Street and surrounding areas take on an especially festive look with lights and decorations and revelers on the streets, Christmas also sees a surge in offerings at Hindu temples from Dakshineswar to Kalighat. All homes usually have a feast and a cake to mark Christmas or the winter solstice. The most popular midnight masses are at the Anglican St. Paul’s Cathedral (nearest Metro station: Rabindra Sadan), the Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, often called the Portuguese Church (nearest Metro station: Central) and the Scottish St. Andrew’s Kirk (nearest Metro station: Central). During the day, people flock to the Basilica of Our Lady of Happy Voyage (popularly known as the Bandel Church) in Bandel (easily reached by commuter train from Howrah) for offerings and a picnic. Park Street restaurants have open houses and New Market is buzzing with activity related to Christmas from weeks in advance. All of Park Street participates regardless of religious convictions (the owner of Trinca’s, a landmark Park Street restaurant, who is Jewish, dresses up as Santa Claus). Calcutta’s clubs and restaurants have elegant balls and parties, not to mention the fact that the Missionaries of Charity (of Mother Teresa fame) and other philanthropic organizations work hard to ensure that the less fortunate of Calcutta’s residents also have a decent holiday. Christmas in Calcutta is definitely a festival that should not be missed. Click here to read a far more detailed description of Christmas in Calcutta, written by noted journalist Jug Suraiya.

Eid ul Fitr

The end of the Moslem holy month of Ramzan (the same as Ramadan in the Arabic-speaking world) is marked by this festival, which is also the biggest festival for Moslems. The most visible celebrations of Eid ul Fitr may be seen on Red Road on Maidan where thousands of Moslem men – who speak languages as varied as Bengali, Urdu, Persian, Arabic or Pashto offer prayers in the morning. Celebrations on the lines of fairs erupt across the city, especially in the traditionally Moslem districts of Metiabruz (closest commuter train stations: Prinsep Ghat, Majerhat), Belgatchia (nearest Metro station: Belgatchia, commuter train station: Tala), Chitpur (nearest Metro station: Mahatma Gandhi Road) and Park Circus (nearest Metro station: Maidan, commuter train station: Park Circus). Like all Calcutta festivals, a key component of the festivities is the food, this time biryanis (rice with meat), rezalas (a meat curry that is unique to Moslem cooking in Calcutta), kebabs and sewai (sweet noodles).

Moharram

The Moslem festival to mark the martyrdom of Hasan and Hussein, the grandsons of the Prophet Muhammad is observed with much mourning and infliction of pain upon themselves by devotees. This festival is observed with greater fervor by the Shiite sect of Moslems, who are concentrated more in Metiabruz (closest commuter train stations: Prinsep Ghat, Majerhat) and in Hooghly (easily reached by commuter train from Howrah) around the famous Imambara.

 

© Focus Calcutta Initiative, Inc. Contents may be used for non-commercial purposes without malicious intent. Last modified December 10, 2003