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While the spirit of Ugadi has taken the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telegana into a festive mode, there are a few other communities that are gearing up to welcome their respective New Year. The city of Vizag, being truly a mini India with its cosmopolitan make up, serves as a home for denizens of almost every region of our country. A little footwork and a bit of digging, informed us about the existence of the numbers of various regional associations which are actively keeping their native culture alive, away from their home states. Here is a quick glimpse of different New Years and the celebrations around them.

Celebrations The celebration begins almost a month before. West Bengal turns into a place of endless fun and grand feasts. Not to miss the exciting discounts (Choitro sale). The day is marked with singing, processions and fairs. Traditionally, businesses start this day with a new ledger. Sporting new clothes, people visit relatives and friends and greet each other Shubhô Nôbobôrsho.

The local scene
The Bong connection has added rich hue to city’s variegated culture. There are many Bengali associations which observe their customs in full glory. Poila Boishakh is round the corner and we suggest you head to Railway Kaali Baadi. “Established in 1961, this association is the oldest and the biggest one in the city,” claims the present president Joydeb Chakraborty. “We celebrate every Bengali festival with gaiety. We are all set for Poila Boishakh.” The celebration will have Satyanarayan puja in the evening, followed by prasad distribution. There are a series of cultural programmes presented by children on traditional songs, dance, poetry recitation, drama etc. The programme will start at 6.00pm and will go on till 11.00 pm. “We will be serving daal, rice, veg fry and curry as prasad,” Joydeb adds.

For more details call- 0891-2842970.

An authentic feast….
Indulge in authentic Bengali flavors at Nimantran, the quintessentially Bengali restaurant established by Sunit Kumar Panja. The eatery has two branches, one close to railway station and the other in Daba Gardens. This Poila Boishakh be there and treat your senses as you relish food served traditionally on a banana leaf.

To start with, a good dollop of pure ghee goes on a bed of hot rice, this is followed by a series of mouth-watering delicacies like dal, alu bhaja, mix veg curry, papad, shukto, alu posto, enchod daalna, patol daalna, mochar ghanto and for non-vegetarians there are kaatla paaturi, bhapa Ilish, pabda jhol, Mutton kasa etc. End the meal with rasogolla and gobindobhog chaaler payesh, the dessert will leave you asking for more. “We serve only lunch and dinner thaalis which are categorized as veg, non-veg and special,” informs Sunit.
Price of thaali: From Rs.104 to Rs.250 Contact: 9849239308

Name of the festival
Baisakhi. Also called Vaisakhi.
Region of celebration
Marks the beginning of the solar year. It also refers to the harvest festival of the region.
The date varies between 13th and 14th April. This year it is on 13th April

It is also thanksgiving for good harvest. The festivities include visit to Gurudwaras, Vaisakhi processions and traditional performances like Bhangra. Vaisakhi has special importance for Sikhs as on this day in 1699, their tenth Guru Gobind Singh Ji organized the order of the Khalsa.

The local scene
“Our celebration starts with reciting the hymns of Guru Granth Sahib from 8.00am of 11th April and culminates on 13th April at 8.00 in the morning.
It is a non-stop recitation for 48 hours,” briefs Shahji Anand Presedent of Gurudwara (City), Seethamdhara. “There is a free langar for all these three days and anyone can partake in it- caste, creed and community no bar. One can donate in cash or kind including ration, cook and serve. The recitation is followed by Shabad Kirtan which continues till 1.00 pm in the afternoon on 13th. The programme gets over with special Vaisakhi langar (lunch).” “Our Gurudwara is known for social work and we can feed 1,000 people on any given day with just one hour notice. We can offer boarding to 600 people,” he adds with all humility. For an authentic feast...

Deepak Punjabi Dhaba at Seetammadhara is the right place to visit for authentic Punjabi food and flavours.
Ph. No: 9160293329
It is considered a festival of light and fireworks and hence the ritual of bursting firecrackers (Vishupadakkam). There is also a tradition of buying new clothes (Puthukodi) and giving money (Vishukkaineetam). A special Vishu feast or Sadya, is prepared which has equal amount of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items. However, the most important part of the celebration is Vishukkani, meaning "the first thing seen on the day of Vishu after waking up". It consists of a ritual arrangement of auspicious articles which symbolise prosperity like rice, fruits and vegetables, betel leaves, arecanut, metal mirror, yellow flowers, holy texts and coins, all arranged around Lord Krishna in the prayer room of the house. The arrangement is done the night before.

The local scene
“We have clubbed our Annual day and Vishu celebration together and organizing a cultural event on 23rd April,” informs N.M.Pillai (Murali), President of Keral Kala Samithi Visakhapatnam. The organization was established in 1971 and every year it celebrates Onam with much fanfare. He adds, “The programme on 23rd will be held between 6.30 pm to 10.00 pm. A series of traditional dance and music recitals will be presented by the association members and their families. The major attraction will be dances like Bharatnatyam, Mohiniattam, Kathakalli and Malayalam skits.” There are around 15,000 Keralites residing in Vizag and the association has over 2,000 members.

Name of the festival
Odia New Year, also marks Maha Vishuba Sankranti or Pana Sankranti
Region of celebration
It is also known as Mesha Sankranti, the day the Sun enters the sign Libra.
13th April 2016

A sweet concoction known as pana is prepared and relished. The special drink is prepared by mixing different types of fruits, water, milk, pulp of bela (Indian bael fruit), curd and sugar. Poetry reading sessions and literary functions are also organised. A small pot filled with pana with a small hole at the bottom is hung on a basil (Tulsi) plant. The water passing through the pot represents rain. The flour of horsegram chhatua, along with banana and curd, is consumed by the locals after offering it to the Tulsi plant. Special offerings are made to Shalagram, Shivalinga, Hanuman, and other deities.

The local Scene The number of Odia population in the city crosses a lakh. The entire city joins them in celebration every year on the occasion of Ratha Yatra of Jagannath Swamy. No wonder, the Jagannath Temple on Daspalla Hills stands as great landmark in the city. “As Utkal Divas, 1st April and Odia New Year fall within a short span of 14 days, we celebrate the former with much pomp and gaiety,” informs S.C.Chodhury, President, Utkal Sanskrutika Samaj. “However, that doesn’t mean New Year goes unnoticed. We call it Pana Sankranti and as the name goes the celebration includes serving of Pana, the Bael nectar. You must try it to know how divine it tastes,” he insists. Briefing further about the programme, he says there would be more of religious celebrations with different pujas, as it is the New Year and prayers would be made to bless the rest of the year with joy, good health and well being of everyone. “Anyone can come and be a part of these celebrations and relish the special drink Pana.”

For more information
contact president on 9338101876

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