MALAYSIAN BENGALEE ASSOCIATION EVENTS
Events organized by MBA
MBA celebrates some selected Bengalee occassions all the year round after striking a balance between significance of the occassion proximity of weekend and public holidays. MBA expects and invites all the Bengalees (Malaysian, expatriates, homemakers, students and others) and their friends and family to attend all the occassions celebrated by MBA. Of course all the people who are interested in knowing more about Bengalee culture (from all ethnicity and nationality) will be most welcomed.
The events organized by MBA are notified in the FACEBOOK page (LINK). In general,the following events are organized routinely over the past decades.
The attendees are expected to contribute an amount of MYR 20-50 (or more for major events) to cover the cost of the celebrations. Please check the EVENTS page of MBA in FACEBOOK for regular updates on events. (LINK)
Baaro Maashe Tero Paarbon: Festivals of Bengal
Nisha Leena Sinha Roy
Bengali festivals, if one begins to count, them would seem innumerable. The number of festivals would in any way exceed the number of months in our Bengali calendar, which are Baishak, Jaishtha, Ashar, Sraban, Bhadra, Aswin, Kartik, Oghran, Poush, Magh, Phalgun and Chaitra . This brings about the saying " Baaro Maashe Tero Paarbon ", literally meaning '13 festivals in 12 months'.
The Bengali calendar begins with Baishak , which falls around the middle of April in the English calendar. People generally begin the year with prayers especially the shopkeepers who turn towards Lord Ganesh to ask for good fortune and business for the forth-coming year. Then they proceed to open a fresh account book for the year called the halkhata . Later in the day, sweet meats are exchanged with their customers. Children seek blessings from their elders whilst having the joy of receiving new clothing to mark the beginning of a New Year.
In Jaishtha , we have Jamai Shoshti -a celebration meant for the son-in-laws. Usually during shoshti, the sixth day of the lunar mothers fast for the well being of their offspring. Shoshti in the month of Jaishtha is dedicated to the son-in-law. On this day, the mother-in-laws pray for their son-in-law's good health and fortune. After prayers, they are treated to a scrumptious dinner and new clothing.
In Ashar , one very significant festival is Rath or 'The Chariot'. It is said that during this time of the year, Shri Jagarnath, his elder brother Balram and sister Subhadra rides the rath to their aunt's house. After staying there for 7 days, they return home. Thus during this festival, 'The Chariot' makes its journey as an offering to Shri Jagarnath and it is believed that pulling the ropes of the chariot brings good luck and blessings. In Bengal, fun fairs take place in conjunction with this festival.
The noted function in Sraban is Jhulan . Jhulan refers to a cradle or a swing and that is where Lord Krishna and Shri Radhika, two separate souls united as one. Their coming together was one of devotion, acceptance and blessing. To respect this, we celebrate jhulan .
Bhadra marks the birth of Lord Krishna, Janmashtami . King Kangsha's evil doings had brought upon a curse by the Gods that the eighth child of his sister Devaki would be the cause of his death. In fear of this curse, King Kangsha kept Devaki and her husband Vasudev captive and murdered seven of her children. When Lord Krishna, the eighth child was born, it was a stormy night. Rain was pouring heavily outside, flooding the Jamuna River. It was in this weather that Vasudev decided to take his child to Nandaraj and Yashoda in Gokul. God works in mysterious ways. As he stood out wondering how to take his little boy through the stormy weather he finds a basket outside. As he lifts the basket Nag Vasuki forms a shade to protect the child from getting wet. By God's grace, a dog shows Vasudev the shallow path to cross the flooding Jamuna, leading him to Gokul.
The 6th month Aswin , has the most noted and important festival in Bengal - Durga Puja . These four days of puja are the most relished moments throughout the year for the Bengalis. Mahalaya marks the commencement of Durga Puja , the day Ma Durga visits her maternal home together with her siblings Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati. She goes in the form of Mahishashur Mardini - a figure to symbolize the demolition of all evil. During this occasion, Bengalis wear new clothing and have grand celebrations. It is also in this month that Lakshmi Puja is celebrated.
The following month Kartik experiences Kali Puja in Bengal and Deewali in the Northern and Southern parts of India. 2 days after Kali Puja , the Bengalis celebrate bhai phonta . On this day, Bengali sisters pray for their brother's safety and well being. In return, it is the brother's responsibility to protect his sister. Putting an auspicious dot made of sandalwood and yogurt on the brother's forehead completes this tradition.
The 8th and the 9th month of the calendar are spent collecting fresh harvest.
In Ôgrohaeon (or Oghran) , Bengalis prepare nobanno with the new rice to offer God and pray for a good crop in the coming year.
On the last day in Poush ,pithe a Bengali sweet meat, is prepared to celebrate the bountiful harvest.
In Magh , students from all walks of life all over the world gather for Saraswati Puja - the Goddess of art, culture and education. Children usually are clad in yellow and during this occasion and toddlers are brought to write for the first time in front of the Goddess. This tradition is known as hathe khodri .
It's spring in Phalgun ! As the flowers start to blossom outside and birds perch on trees, this colorful scenario is depicted in holi , the festival of colours. People on this day are very busy spraying colours on each other to mark the colourful scenario all around. Holi hai!
The year ends with Chaitra and the noted festival in this month is gajan . This is a festival meant for Lord Shiva. Devotees wear yellow clothing and fast for a month during which they would have taken vows. On the last day, they walk on fire, pierce their tongue and do all kinds of things in trance known as Chodokh Puja and this is very similar to Thaipusam.