Basanta Utsav at Shantiniketan

by Festivals, West Bengal0 comments

Home > India > West Bengal > Basanta Utsav at Shantiniketan

Last Updated on: Jan 31, 2020 |

The atmosphere is electrifying. There are colours everywhere – red, blue, green, yellow and pink. There is a smile on every face and song in every heart. It is spring or Basanta (in Bengali), the season of colours. And we both are now surrounded by colours and people at the Bhubandanga ground celebrating Basanta Utsav at Shantiniketan. India is a land of colourful festivals. Holi in India is perhaps the most colourful and vibrant of all the festivals in India. It is celebrated with much fervour all over the country. But there are a few places where Holi celebration is unique and special. In West Bengal, Holi or Dol Jatra is inexorably linked with Shantiniketan. Basanta Utsav at Shantiniketan, as it more popularly called here, is an event that has to be experienced and felt.

A smiling face celebrating Basanta Utsav at Shantiniketan

Basanta Utsav at Shantiniketan

Shantiniketan is a place that is the melting pot of learning, art, culture and dance. As Bengalis, the first thing that we are reminded of while thinking about Shantiniketan is Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. This place was previously known as Bhubandanga but later renamed as Shantiniketan by Maharishi Devendranath Tagore. He also found an ashram here in 1863 and Rabindranath Tagore came here in 1873.

Tagore spent his last days at Mongpu. Read about it here.

Rabindranath Tagore himself was not immune to the charms of spring and Dol Jatra or Holi. So he decided to celebrate this special occasion in a beautiful way – where there is much love, fun and celebration of art. And the legacy continues till date. With the advent of spring, Vishwa Bharati University at Shantiniketan gears up for the Basanta Utsav or celebration of spring. There is a riot of colours everywhere with yellow colour taking the centre stage. Men and women are dressed in colourful traditional attire. Women adorn their hair with palash flower. There are spring in everyone’s steps and alacrity in every heart. The whole atmosphere seems to be singing the tunes of Rabindra Sangeet and exalting smell of ‘abir’ (dry colours).

People playing with colours during Basanta Utsab at Shantiniketan

This year, we celebrated our Holi or Dol Jatra at Shantiniketan. The Basanta Utsav celebration is held at the Bhubandanga Playground adjacent to the Viswabharati University complex. The Utsav starts with various cultural song and dances being performed at the playground by the University students. They sing and dance to the Rabindra Sangeet of the season of spring. It is so great to see the teachers and students taking part in this cultural extravaganza. We were a little late, so the programme was almost at its end when we reached the playground. Once this is over, different groups disperse and celebrate the festival of colours in their own way.

Palash flowers at Shantiniketan

Basanta Utsav at Shantiniketan is definitely colourful, vivid and musical. The whole ground was crowded and so was the university and roads. The people were singing and playing instruments. They were occasionally throwing colours up in the air making the whole place a riot of colours. All were playing colours with each other. A few came to us and smeared us with abir or gulaal while wishing us happy Holi. There was no bar or hindrance of any kind. Everyone was happily and joyfully playing colours. There were people of all ages. And yes, there were also no untoward incidents and misbehaviour towards any woman. Shantiniketan meaning ‘the abode of peace’ was actually a much serene place.

Smearing the face with Abir or dry colours - Holi in Shantiniketan is safe

After the main programme, people formed various groups and started singing and dancing. There are Baul performances with the playing of ‘ektara’, a single stringed instrument. It was totally an incredible experience at Shantiniketan.  There were no water colours, everyone played with dry colours – abir or gulaal. It was sublime to see all the happy abir smeared colourful faces. In very few places is Holi celebrated so peacefully yet vibrantly. As I said earlier, you have to experience the phenomenon called Basanta Utsav at Shantiniketan.

Why do we celebrate Holi in India?

Holi in India is celebrated as the victory of good over evil. Once there was a demon king named Hiranyakashipu. He was a powerful king and had got a boon that made him invincible. He had five special powers – neither uman nor animal can kill him. He would not be killed either indoors or outdoors, neither in the day nor at night, neither at land nor at water. He would neither be killed by astra (projectile weapon) nor by shashtra (hand weapon). These powers made him arrogant and he considered himself to be the supreme and wanted everyone in his kingdom to worship him. His son, Prahlada, however, was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. He tried a lot to change Prahlada’s heart, subjected his son to many cruel punishments, but could not move Prahlada’s faith towards Vishnu. He then called for Holika, his evil sister to teach Prahlada a lesson. Holika had a special power of being immune to fire. So she sat on a pyre with Prahlada on her lap so that the fire would harm him. But good always wins over evil! Holika was burnt to ashes and Prahlada was left unscathed. The first day of Holi is celebrated as Holika Dahan and symbolizes the victory of good over bad.

Rabindra Sangeet and dance performances at Visva Bharati ground - Basanta Utsav at Shantiniketan

The eternal love story of Radha and Krishna

Holi in India is celebrated as an expression of the eternal love between Radha and Krishna. Young Krishna was quite mischievous and playful. It is said that Krishna was jealous of Radha’s fair complexion as his own complexion was dark. So he complained to Mother Yashodha about this injustice. Yashoda, in order to pacify Krishna asked him to put colour of his choice on Radha’s face. Krishna puts colours on Radha’s face making her like himself. It is said that Radha, Krishna and other gopis played holi and applied colours and sprinkled coloured waters by pichkari on each other. This traditions still lives and people play with colour and pichkaris on Holi.

Holi in India is a colourful affair. People playing Holi

Where can you celebrate Holi in India?

Holi in India is celebrated in various parts of India in different ways. Vrindaban, Mathura, Barsana and Nandgaon are closely associated with Radha and Krishna. Holi celebration in these places is a beautiful affair. A lot of people visit these places to experience Holi. Barsana celebrates Lath Maar Holi where the women beat the men playfully with sticks and the men protect themselves with huge shields. In West Bengal, apart from Shantiniketan, Holi is celebrated in Purulia. Wherever Holi is celebrated in India, it is always a grand affair with lots of people, colour and fun.

Different faces smeared with colour during Holi in India - faces of Holi

How to reach Shantiniketan?

The nearest Railway station is Bolpur. There are a number of trains connecting Bolpur from Howrah station. From Bolpur station, you can take a rickshaw to reach the Bhubandanga Ground at Shantiniketan where the event takes place.

BY ROAD:

Shantiniketan is about 213 Km from Kolkata by road.

PLACES TO STAY AT SHANTINIKETAN

There are numerous hotels, lodges and a few homestays at Shantiniketan. If you are planning to stay during the Basanta Utsav, it is recommended to book in advance due to the rush.

What else can you do at Shantiniketan

Visit Khowai or Sonajhuri from Shantiniketan. There is a weekend market at Khowai where local handicrafts are displayed. Also, baul songs and local dances are performed here during the Basanta Utsav.

You can read our post on Things to do in Shantiniketan.

Here are a few pictures that will make you yearn for Shantiniketan.

Baul song performance during Basanta Utsav at Shantiniketan

People playing Holi at Basanta Utsav in Shantiniketan
Song and dance performance at Shnatiniketan during Holi
Jhumur dance performance at Khoai, Shantiniketan
Baul song performance at Shantiniketan during Basanta Utsav
People playing with colours during Holi in Shantiniketan
Basanta Utsav at Shantiniketan, Holi in India
Agni Amrita 2 Backpackers

by Agni Amrita

We are Agni and Amrita, the story-telling team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers and partners in crime in travel and (mis)adventures of life. We have been travelling together for more than a decade looking for immersive experiences while enjoying the little beauties of life.

You May also like…

Bidyang – An Offbeat Place to visit in North Bengal

Bidyang – An Offbeat Place to visit in North Bengal

About this blog: There are times when we all need to get away from our daily life to find recluse in nature. Bidyang, a small hamlet in North Bengal is such a place where you can spend a couple of days in peace and happiness. In this blog, we talk about our experience...

How to plan a trip to Gangani (Grand Canyon of Bengal)

How to plan a trip to Gangani (Grand Canyon of Bengal)

About the blog: This blog is about another weekend getaway from Kolkata - Gangani. Also known as the Grand Canyon of Bengal, because of its unique landscape. Located about 130 km from Kolkata near Garhbeta town, Gangani (Gongoni) can be a slightly different place to...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Agni Amrita 2 Backpackers

Hi! we’re Agni & Amrita.

A creative couple, explorer and the team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers.

Find more about us.

Recent Posts

Naranag Shiva Temple Complex & Dumail Trek – Offbeat Kashmir

Naranag Shiva Temple Complex & Dumail Trek – Offbeat Kashmir

About this blog: Naranag is mainly known for the ancient Shiva Temple complex and the basecamp of a number of treks in Kashmir. Our experience at Naranag, another offbeat place in Kashmir was much more. Not only did we experience the pristine beauty of the valley, but...

YUSMARG, Unexplored Kashmir – A Complete Travel Guide

YUSMARG, Unexplored Kashmir – A Complete Travel Guide

About this blog: What can I say about Yusmarg? This is a place where you need to visit to understand its beauty. This incredibly beautiful and offbeat place in Kashmir is not always on the list of tourist itinerary. However, while planning our Kashmir trip, I knew I...

KOH MAK, The Low Carbon Destination – Exploring Offbeat Thailand

KOH MAK, The Low Carbon Destination – Exploring Offbeat Thailand

It would not be a lie when I say that I fell in love with Koh Mak Island the moment I landed there. After our visit to Bangkok and Phuket, Koh Mak was quite a welcome change. To be honest, we had no plans of visiting Koh Mak before. It was an impromptu decision on our...

Lolab Valley and Mysterious Kalaroos Caves – Unexplored Kashmir

Lolab Valley and Mysterious Kalaroos Caves – Unexplored Kashmir

About the blog: Kashmir is undoubtedly a paradise. In our recent trip to Kashmir, we not only travelled to the common tourist places, but also explored a number of offbeat places. In this blog, we will give you a glimpse of an unexplored gem in Kashmir - the Lolab...

Blogging Tips & SEO

Travel Blog SEO for 2021 – Tips on How to Increase Your Traffic?

Travel Blog SEO for 2021 – Tips on How to Increase Your Traffic?

If you have found this page, then in all probability you already have a travel blog and now looking forward towards growing your blog. The most important aspect of growing your website and attracting traffic is Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Whether you are a...

Travel Blog Name Ideas – How to choose awesome Travel Blog Names?

Travel Blog Name Ideas – How to choose awesome Travel Blog Names?

So you are thinking of starting a travel blog? I would say that it is a great decision. Starting a travel blog and continuing it through 5 years has been one of the best decisions of our life. And we always encourage others to start a travel blog. This article is all...

How to Start a Travel Blog in 2021? Things We Wish We Had Known

How to Start a Travel Blog in 2021? Things We Wish We Had Known

We love travelling and we have been doing it for more than a decade. Earlier the travel stories used to find a place in the pages of my diary. But honestly, starting a travel blog was one of the best decisions we had made almost 6 years back. Travel blogging has...

Unusual & Creative Travel Words that you must know in 2019

Unusual & Creative Travel Words that you must know in 2019

About this blog: This contains 38 unique and creative travel words that you can use in your travel vocabulary. Use them in your travel captions or use them for naming your blog.  Oh, yes! We love to travel. And we love to get amazed at new experiences. We love to look...

Don’t miss out

Pin It on Pinterest