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Dol-Jatra, Holi in Shantiniketan
Sunday, March 16th, 2014

by Mitankar

We are happy to introduce Mitankar from West Bengal who has written a beautiful guest post on Dol Jatra in Bengal, a lesser known spring festival of India similar to Holi. 

P.B.Shelley once penned down “O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?” The rhetoric is evident. Spring arrives in India and how! Fun, frolic and fiesta are evident. The whole nation drowns in the madness of the Spring Festival commonly known as Holi. As diverse as she is, celebration of the fiesta across her face is equally diversified. What is Holi in the northern plains, Dhuleti in some parts of the West, Vasanthosavam and Ukkuli in Peninsular India, it is Dol Jatra in Bengal. Having spent a considerable amount of time in Bengal, Dol Jatra is nothing new to me. I have enjoyed the frenzy, up close and personal. I remember making trips to Shantiniketan during this time. The bout of euphoric celebration is bound to leave anyone mesmerised. This year the Dol Jatra at Shantiniketan is on 16 March 2014.

Holi in Shantiniketan
Pretty Colors @ Shantiniketan

Shantiniketan is located in Bolpur region of the Birbhum district. Around 200 km away from Kolkata, Shantiniketan is an epitome of culture and heritage. Formerly known by the name Bhubandanga, this became the foundation ground for Nirakar Brahma, founded by Maharshi Devendranath Tagore. Later Rabindranath Tagore. followed his footsteps and founded several institutions. It was Rabindranath who started the tradition of playing colours in springtime.

I vividly remember the last time I had been there. I had taken a train from Kolkata. After chugging through the plains of Bengal for about 5 hours, when I reached the Khoai soil of Bolpur, I was overwhelmed by what lay in sight. The trees were covered with new leaves, flowers had bloomed everywhere and there was freshness in the air. Nature was at her best distributing her largesse!

Colors of Spring
Picture Perfect @Shantiniketan

As I proceeded towards the place where the celebration was taking place, I contemplated how this annual Bengali Fete has become an integral part of the Bengali culture over the years. Like every year, the students of Viswa Bharati and other institutions had organised a day long celebration. They were clad in typical yellow attire, and in floral ornaments. I had reached early in the morning. They were out on the roads in a procession, singing, dancing, playing the dhol, throwing colours in the air, smearing some on others, doing all and sundry. Their laughter reverberated. It was a visual treat. They were singing aloud. Be it Rabindrasangeet, or the local Baul songs, the air was filled with melody. The young enthusiasts had even arranged a group choreography that was a delight to watch. Sweets were distributed. A plethora of conventional Bengali dishes was on the menu; I did indulge in the gustatory fest.

Fun @ Shantiniketan
100 Shades of ‘Happy’

In the evenings special performances were made arrangements for. Several performers, beyond the boundaries of Paschim Banga, had participated in the fest. Since the time of its inception, Basanta Utsav had attracted foreign interests. That year, there was no exception. Tourists had flocked from different parts of the globe to catch a glimpse of Shantiniketan’s Basanta Utsav, a milestone in the history of Bengal.

Vasanta Utsav
The Other Angle of Celebration

Basanta Utsav as celebrated in Shantiniketan is an occasion of love, gaiety and colours. A conglomeration of people of different backgrounds enhances manifold the grandeur of the Spring Festival, making it a tradition in itself.

Happy Dol Jatra

Mitankar

Author Bio: Being a Bengali, how could he have stayed untouched by the cultural enigma of the state. An engineer by profession, a Theatre artist by choice and a cook in his leisure, Mitankar narrates the colorful treat he had been a part of at Tagore’s Shantiniketan.

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Practical Information:

You can reach Shantiniketan via train or road. The train journey take around 4-6 hours starting from Kolkata. Tickets can be booked on www.irctc.co.in. Search for trains travelling from Howrah to Bolpur – Shantiniketan Express, Saraighat Express, Rampurhat Express.

Where to stay at Shantiniketan: Mark Meadows 

Mitali is a lovely homestay close to the Shantiniketan campus

West Bengal Tourism lodge is clean and maintained well, ideal for budget travelers.

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Picture Courtesy:

Pretty Colors , Deblina 

Picture Perfect, Rahul Roy

100 Shades of Happy, Rahul Roy

The Other Angle, Prasun Dutta 


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Plan to travel to an Indian holiday destination?

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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