By SOMJIT NAHA | April 15, 2018
Today is the 1st day of the Bengali New Year also known as Pohela Boishakh. This is the 1425th year according to Bengali calendar. A number of Indian calendars is followed by different communities across the country such as the Punjabi, Assamese and Tamil, Nepali calendars etc. The modern Bengali calendar though is unique amongst these, given that it was introduced by the Mughal Empire.
Boishak is a special month as it marks the beginning of the Bengali financial year. It is celebrated on the first day in the month of Boishak, according to the luni-solar calendar. This day is celebrated by the Bengalis by seeking blessings from the elders, visiting friends and relatives over lunch, going to temples to seek blessing from the almighty for a blissful year ahead and by feasting over fish, mutton, rice and sweets.
According to historical records, the Bengali calendar was made by the Mughals during the reign of Emperor Akbar in the sixteenth century on the basis of harvesting cycle to collect land revenue from the peasants. Earlier Mughals used to follow Islamic Hijri calendar but it did not match with the solar agriculture cycles. That is why the peasants were not always in a position to pay the taxes. So, Emperor Akbar asked his royal astronomer Fatullah Shirazi to make a new calendar by combining the lunar Hijiri calendar along with the indigenous solar calendar, so that it can be determined that which is the best time to collect tax from the peasants and farmers.
Though with passing time some rituals might have changed or are not followed now but this day acts as a perfect reunion of friends and families. Many look forward to this day as a perfect occasion of joy and for many elderly persons in the community they consider Poila Boishak to be the beginning of the year rather than 1st January according to the English Calendar.
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