Will you make Bengal your Valentine on V-Day like I did?

"ধনধান্য পুষ্প ভরা আমাদের এই বসুন্ধরা
তাহার মাঝে আছে দেশ এক সকল দেশের সেরা
ও সে স্বপ্ন দিয়ে তৈরি সে দেশ স্মৃতি দিয়ে ঘেরা
এমন দেশটি কোথাও খুঁজে পাবে নাকো তুমি
ও সে সকল দেশের রাণী সে যে আমার জন্মভূমি
সে যে আমার জন্মভূমি, সে যে আমার জন্মভূমি"

(Fields of golden grains, meadows of fragrant flowers, two delights from Earth of her many natural Treasures, Nestled within is a place divine set far above all measures, created from dreams anchored by memories, nowhere else a place of such luminous glories, This the land of my birth, the hallowed land of my birth)

The world is celebrating a day in the name of Love this Wednesday. Stepping into the boots of the vintage concept, ‘Generations X, Y and Z’ have smoothly termed the occasion as the “Valentine’s Day” when the cupid strikes us all and we go lovey- dovey for someone special in our lives. Keeping aside the age old history of St. Valentine, if we take a sneak peek at the lovers meeting points at Central Park, New Town, Nalban or even the Victoria Memorial, one can surely corroborate that to be the icon of Love. 

Let me tell you with whom I find myself falling in love on a daily basis. My special one with whom I am head-over heels in love with is Bengal. A pure Bangali I am, born and brought up here. NO, i don’t have dark kohled eyes; I don’t wear Lal-par sharee (red bordered saree) and certainly not the Red Bindi but what constantly dwells in my mind, is the exquisitely charming and mouth watering food of Bengal, doing its best to bring out the glutton in me.

Bengal pampers her children with utmost care and brings a new definition to the term “Atithi Devo Bhava” (Guests are equal to God) through her warmth towards tourists and travelers. From lazy afternoons on a scorching summer day to the “non compos mentis” Durga Puja hopping or even going down the roads not often taken to the offbeat areas in Bengal, let me remind you, we are the hosts of daily carnivals and also for those who are craving exotic sweets. 

If you want your city clean, fly down to Delhi; if you want a city rich and impersonal, try Mumbai; want a draught-beer and cool hangout zone, please visit Bangaluru, but if you want a soulful city rich in culture and heritage – ashun Bangla tey (Please come to Bengal). She is the paradoxical mixture of old and the new souls. She is the perfect blend of nonchalant as well as passionate people inclining towards simple living and high thinking. 

The 23 districts of Bengal have some exotic sweet treats waiting for you. Be it Lyangcha and mihidana sitabhog of Bardhaman, Sharbhaja of Krishnanagar, Chanabora of Murshidabad and the list of sweet cravings go on. The story of her very own ‘heaven in your mouth’- Rosogolla fascinates the taste buds and historians alike. The Willy Wonka for Bengalis - Sri Nabin Chandra Das made soft balls of cottage cheese, dipped them in sugar syrup and offered those to the wealthy merchants who came to his shop and very soon the word spread like fire thus giving rise to the famous Rosogolla. 

Bengal also has few of the most intricately woven stories of many of its bright mornings and charcoal dark nights which have stood the tests of time through wars, partitions, demolitions and struggle for freedom. Stories of many civilizations have left their footprints here and it will leave you mesmerized. Starting from Joyrambati till the Garh Panchkot every place will leave you longing for more. The Tea-draped Himalayan foothills to the dense mangroves of the Bay of Bengal, you get the taste of every flavor. Bengal has remarkable range of destinations. Back in the year 2008-09 a national campaign by the Government of India short-listed 200 places of interest all over India. My Bangla was selected; and not just one, two or three places, 13 places were selected! Chhau Dance,which you got to see in Director Anurag Basu's “Barfi!” movie is part of the rich cultural history of Bengal. Chhau, the renounced tribal martial dance is unique amongst other folk dances (Gambhira dance, Kushan or even Alkap). The lavish palace at Cooch Behar, Hazarduari, Bishnupur's Terracotta Temple to the famous Toy Train is Pride of this Bengal. The people of Bengal pay our respects to Adina Mosque and confess our sins in St. Paul’s Church. It is a matter of personal pride for Bangali's when the Lal-Holud and Shobuj-Merun teams battle for survival in the stadiums where the atmosphere represents that of the Roman Colosseum. 

I am just a Bangali girl, who is pouring her heart out to just let you know that living in Bengal is a roller-coaster ride filled with passion, relations, love, respect, pride, history and gastronomy. Even the Baadshah of Bollywood, ShahRukh Khan who is the ambassador of Bengal put a namaste and cordially states, “Ayashun Tahole Aamar Bangla te”(come to Bengal).

Don’t you think that Valentine’s Day presents me with the perfect occasion to recall my love story with Bangla and to fall in love with her again?

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