Tuesday, March 4, 2014

West Bengal At A Glance

West Bengal lies in the eastern part of India and is the fourth most populous state in the country. Also, it is the seventh most populous sub-nationals entity across the globe. The state is the third largest contributor to India's GDP. Even though it has made economic gains recently, West Bengal still remains one of the poorest states in the country due to high political instability, a low Human Development Index level and numerous strikes.

West Bengal came into existence with the partition and independence of India, with thousands of refugees gushing into the state. Since then the state has witnessed a lot of turbulence. With a rich culture and literary heritage, West Bengal is proud to be a vibrant mosaic of rich traditions and high human values. The land of West Bengal has been abode to many social reformers like Swami Vivekananda, Subhash Chandra Bose, Sri Aurobindo, Ravindra Nath Tagore and many more.

History of West Bengal

Bishnupur old relics (Bankura district)
In ancient times, West Bengal was referred as Vanga and was spread over a wide area. The region has been ruled by numerous dynasties from time immemorial, however, the actual history of this land is traceable from the Gupta period. The prosperity and the significance of West Bengal grew tremendously when the British East India Company took over it. It was a wide spread province until under the terms of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, the territory ceased to exist. The Islam-dominated regions of Dacca, Chittagong and part of Rajshahi and Presidency division went to the present-day Bangladesh and the state of West Bengal came into being in 1947. Eventually, district of Cooch Behar, former Chandernogor and part of Bihar were merged into West Bengal.

Geography & Climate of West Bengal

sunderban mangrove forest
Sunderban mangrove forest
The state of West Bengal is flanked by Bangladesh on the east, states of Assam and Sikkim and the country of Bhutan on the northeast, state of Orissa on the southwest, states of Bihar and Jharkhand on the west and Nepal on the northwest side.

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The climate of the state can be divided into-the hot dry phase that reigns from March to early June, the monsoon period from July to September and the cool winter from the month of October to February. The southwest monsoon has a great effect on the climate of West Bengal. The concentration of the monsoon regulates the harvesting of a large variety of crops in the region.


Kenduli Mela in Birbhum
Kenduli Mela in Birbhum
West Bengal is one of the most populous state of India, with a population of approximately 90,310,785. Kolkata is the capital city of West Bengal. Bengali and English are its official languages. However, Hindi, Oriya and Assamese are also widely understood by the locals. Nepali is the primary language in the region of Darjeeling. West Bengal is popular for variety of fish preparations and sweet-meat but some of the vegetarian dishes are also a specialty.

Heritage & Culture of West Bengal

Baul singers of West Bengal
One of the most ethnically and culturally diverse states of India, West Bengal is inhabited by the people who draw their identity and aspiration from the larger Indian motley and from civilizations beyond the shorelines. Fascinating potpourri of varied ethnicity, languages, culture and religion adds to the richness of this land and unifies the people instead of separating them. The literary heritage of the land has been nourished by eminent authors and poets like Michael Madusudhan Dutt, Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay. Apparently, West Bengal has its own version of fairy tales known as Thakurmar Jhuli.

In the field of music, a quaint heritage of the Bangla folk music is the baul tradition, wherein Bauls are the folk singers of rural area who saunter from village to village singing their songs. West Bengal also has a rich heritage in North Indian classical music. In dance, Chau dance of Purulia is a unique dance form, where the dancers wear masks. Durga Puja is the most important festival of the state and is an extravaganza of almost seven days. In addition, Kali Puja, Saraswati Puja, Lakshmi Puja and Janmashtami are some other festivals that hold prominence.

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