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Pohela Baisakh is the first day of the Bengali calendar. As you know, many Indian regional calendars begin from the 1st day of spring when the crops are harvested. Pohela Baisakh is one such Indian festival and it is just a couple of days away. Usually this day falls on the 14th or 15th of April every year. Decorations for Pohela Baisakh are usually simple in any Bengali household.
The best part about Bengalis is that they are more inclined towards food than anything else. That is why, the term ‘Bengali home décor' might take some hard core Bongs by surprise! Most of the Bengalis grew up with some minimal Pohela Baisakh decorations at home and a very long and sumptuous menu for New Year's lunch.
Anyway, there are some things that are auspicious for Bengalis and usually kept in the house on the first day of the year. For example, banana leaves. The entire banana plant is purchased for decorating on Pohela Baisakh and then the leaves of the banana plant can also be used for serving food in the traditional way.
Here are some simple aspects of Pohela Baisakh decorations:
Two freshly cut banana plants are usually kept on the two sides of the main entrance and tied up with red threads. They say that the first thing you see on the morning of the New Year is a banana plant.
A copper pot or kalash with the swastika drawn in vermilion on it is placed in front of the main entrance of the puja room. This too is for spreading auspicious vibes in the house.
Bengalis love their pans. First, the betel leaves are used to decorate the puja room. Soon after, they are dressed into paans and chewed after a heavy lunch.
Oil lamps are used to decorate the puja room and sometimes all the rooms in the house. Bengalis usually use brass lamps instead of the earthen ones.
One of the important steps in any Bengali puja is giving ‘dhuno' or burning the skin of dry coconut shells. This pungent smelling smoke is considered to ward off evil spirits.
Alpana is a unique part of Bengali home décor. Bengalis make floor art with a paste of soaked rice and water. They sometimes add a little zinc oxide to it. The alpana designs are white and bereft of any colour.
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