Kolkata: People greeted each other with a warm "shubho nabo borsho" and exchanged sweets or visited temples to pray for a good year as West Bengal Saturday celebrated the Bengali new year 1419 or `Poila Baishak`.
As per Bengali tradition, the day not only marks the beginning of the Bengali New Year but also the beginning of a new financial year when shopkeepers and businessmen close their old account books and open new ones, which is called the "haal khata" ceremony.
The Bangabda or the Bengali calendar was promulgated in 1584 A.D. by Mughal emperor Akbar. Initially known as the "Tarikh-e-Elahi", the purpose of the calendar was to glorify Akbar`s ascent to the throne along with facilitating revenue collection.
Traders and small businessmen welcome each and every visitor and customer with sweets and a copy of the new Bengali calendar.
Several colourful processions were taken out on the streets of Kolkata as girls dressed in traditional saris danced to the melodious songs by Nobel laureate and poet Rabindranath Tagore.
Apart from colourful processions, mouth watering Bengal cuisine, sweet dishes and spicy fish preparations were also an integral part of the celebrations.
Devotees from all over the state thronged Kali temples in Kalighat and Dakshineshwar to offer prayers.