Basant Utsav is how Holi is known in the state of West Bengal and particularly in Shantiniketan. This was the place where poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore had set up his university, Vishwabharati and started off the tradition of celebrating this festival.
Basant Utsav literally means the celebration of spring and is unique in its own way. Compared to the loud and chaotic Holi celebrations in the rest of the country, Basant Utsav is celebrated in a more calm and peaceful manner. It is filled with grace and dignity and is a beautiful way of welcoming spring.
Customs And Celebrations
In Shantiniketan, this day is one to be remembered. People celebrate it with immense mirth and energy accompanied by dance and music. Young boys and girls are dressed up in saffron or yellow colored clothes as saffron or yellow is the color of the spring.
They welcome this season which is symbolic of fresh starts and new hopes in a very elegant and joyous manner. They perform to songs and music that describes the essence of spring. Along with that many interesting hymns are chanted which adds to the serene and quiet atmosphere of Shantiniketan. And not to be forgotten, colors or powdered dry ‘gulaals’ are thrown up into the air to celebrate this festival of color.
It’s smeared on near and dear ones and everybody gets united in a single bond of happiness and love. The main event of the day is the cultural fest which is organized by the students of the Vishwabharati University. This fest witnesses some amazing and excellent works of art and culture. The students are very talented and put together some remarkable performances for the audience. They sing melodious songs as well as dance to happy tunes engulfing the audience in pleasures and enjoyment.
In the later hours of the day, the students and teachers of this university apply colors on each other so as to portray love and respect for each other. This powdered and dry form of colors is popularly known as ‘Abir’ and is extensively found in the air and atmosphere on this day. All the students take part in the merriment and enjoy smearing each other with colors. This paints the entire premises of the university colorful and it’s indeed a beautiful sight.
All the visitors are given a hearty welcome on this day and are readily accepted to take part in the Holi celebrations. Thus, the whole day is bathed in colors of joy and merriment which is remembered for months to come. These celebrations are a major reason behind the popularity of Basant Utsav in Bolpur, Santiniketan. Over the years, Basant Utsav has been love and enjoyed by people all over the country and now on this occasion every year, tourists flock to Shantiniketan not only from the rest of West Bengal but from also the different parts of the country.