It was three o’ clock in the afternoon. We started off during the hot daytime. We picked up my mother, and then my father drove on continuously for three hours, and arrived at Shantiniketan! After seven months, I truly had a fresh feeling to be there. We shared the bags we had brought and walked through the red soil, towards our house. The area in front of our house is quite large. This time, it was even better: the grasses had been trimmed and small plants of three colours had been planted-purple, fresh green, and dark green. It looked amazing! Even in the diffused rays of the sun, the door glowed with its new golden colour. My father’s friend’s family arrived at 11:00 PM, and the eight of us had chicken bharta and rotis.
The 27th of March – বসন্ত উতসব (Basanta Utsav)
It was the day of Holi throughout India, and Basanta Utsav is celebrated in Shantiniketan.
In terms of ‘Holi’, abirs are primarily used in Shantiniketan.
The Basanta Utsav is something slightly different.
In the central part of Shantiniketan, the university (Biswabharati) students start a musical event by singing and dancing through a fixed route in yellow traditional dresses. This marks the start of the cultural event. After one hour, the main programme starts onstage, with various students, present on that day as artists, displaying their talents through songs, dances, plays, and many more. At 9:00 AM, the function ends, and the audience throws abir into the air. This activity remodels the atmosphere – making it more colourful than ever!
However, the year of 2013 was unusual. The venue had shifted to a bigger area, and the event was not as pure as before. A thirst for commercialization had made it lose its beauty, and the huge crowd created chaos.
We stepped out of the main venue and joined several other families who were enjoying in peace on the ground adjacent to the entrance of Biswabharati.
Here is a video by Supriyo De, covering the original flavour of Basanta Utsav.