My fashionistas, hope you all had a great weekend! Before we all start mourning over the brutal fact that it’s Monday again, I thought to share a look to usher the Bengali New Year 1421. Bengali New Year occurring on 14 April or 15 April, is the first day of the Bengali calendar, celebrated in Bangladesh and in the Indian state of West Bengal, by the Bengalis and also by Bengalis all over the world. It coincides with the New Year’s days of numerous Southern Asian calendars. A traditional way of greeting for Bengali New Year is শুভ নববর্ষ “Shubho Noboborsho”. Hope this new year brings you all the happiness, success and joy in life.
Usually on Pohela or Poila Boishakh, a Bengali home is thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned, people bath early in the morning and dress in new clothes. Everyone spends much of the day visiting relatives, friends, and neighbours. Special foods are prepared to entertain guest. My early memory of a Poila Boishakh day is also about wearing new clothes, eating scrumptuous Bengali delicacies all throughout the day, seeing my mother and other ladies in my family wearing white & red saree, going to boishakhi mela with my father and siblings and coming back with toys made of clay and wood and visiting relatives to present boxes of authentic Begali sweets like Roshogolla, Kalo Jam or creamy Rosho Malai. In my teens, I used to participate in various cultural programmes that usually take place to usher the first day of the Bengali calendar singing Tagore’s songs, not to mention wearing red & white saree and fresh flowers in hair. My folks believe that entire month of Boishakh is considered to be an auspicious time for marriages.
In my growing up years, Poila Boishakh used to be my favourite day of the year as it is the only day when all Bengalis will unwind and celebrate, irrespective of religion, class or caste. Young ladies clad in white sarees with red borders, men in dhuti and kurta, take part in the Probhat Pheri processions early in the morning to welcome the first day of the year. It is considered as an auspicious day, for new businesses and new ventures. My father, being a businessman, always celebrate Hal khata – in which businesses open their new ledger book, the new hal khata. It is often red in colour, it’s a simple ledger book. But at the beginning of a new year, it signifies much more: the marking of a new beginning and the hopes and uncertainties that come along with it. And more importantly, the hal khata represents Bengali tradition, with the festivities and rituals surrounding it. I wonder why the khata (ledger book) is red, so is the saree that women wear on this day! Mostly because the color red symbolizes strong emotions, from blood, to love, to infatuation. Also strengths, danger, passion and aggression. What better ways to welcome a new beginning, eh, if not with passion and emotion!
I have had this saree in my wardrobe for two years now. I couldn’t think of a better festival to wear a traditional saree like this than Poila Boishakh. It is a relief to don a traditional saree as you can drape it in many ways you want and experiment with your look. I have presented three traditional yet modern ways of wearing a saree to give you some great new ideas on different types of Saree draping styles.
Top Tip: Always make your blouse stand-out when wearing a traditional saree, design it to make you look seductive (I’m not wearing the matching blouse piece that came with this saree, I have hand picked the fabric myself, chose the accessories for the blouse, conceptualised it and used some fabric from the original blouse piece to create this blouse). Follow the rule ”one or the other” when picking jewellery- either a heavy ear ring or a dramatic necklace, not both together, unless it’s your own wedding day;)
How are you celebrating Poila Boishakh this year? Drop me a line at the comment section as I like to hear what you have to say:)
Saree from Tassels, Kolkata, India
Gold Jhumki from Manik Chand Jewellers, Kolkata, India
Red bangles from Chandni Chowk Market, Dhaka
Black Bindi from Kolkata New Market, India
Black beaded clutch bag from Dilli Haat, India
Base make-up by Bobbi Brown in Selfridges, London
Eye make-up and hair styling by Me