Recently a good friend of mine invited me to a special event celebrating the culture of Bengal in the north-east of India. (It was being held in Glasgow by the Bengali Cultural Association, so I didn’t need to go too far afield!) I knew it would be a colourful and exotic event full of beautiful costumes and dancing, so my daughter came with me to take these photos.
The two largest cities in Bengal are Kolkata (formerly spelled “Calcutta”) and Dhaka. The majority of people in Kolkata (the capital of Bengal) are Hindu, and this festival was primarily to celebrate the arts and crafts, music, literature and food of the Hindu people of Bengal.
Around the room were tables laden with beautiful displays on different themes. The first one we looked at showed the foods and spices that are typical of Bengali cuisine. I was most impressed by the butterfly made of whole spices that my friend had created!
She had also worked very hard to put together the Bengali Wedding display, which showed an amazingly sumptuous wedding sari, stunning gold jewellery and an official wedding certificate.
At many of the tables we looked at, charming little dolls highlighted the theme of the display. Two newlyweds sat on top of the wedding table, looking very formal in their traditional costumes.
Apparently the groom on the left should have been wearing a tall, pointed white hat, but it had gone astray!
Another table was covered in musical instruments, and two musician dolls wearing bright orange robes looked as if they were about to play a tune. There were many beautiful Bengali crafts, including wood carvings, jewellery and batik paintings, and a display about famous actors, musicians, writers and film directors who had come from Bengal.
The highlight of the festival was Dances of India, an evening performance of a wide range of dancing styles from traditional temple dances to contemporary Bollywood! Before that we were treated to a lovely dance display by the children. The first dance represented a wedding celebration in a small village. You can see the bride and groom are very small, and I think they really enjoyed being the centre of attention for this dance!
The boy with the microphone on the right is setting the scene for the audience, and you can see a brilliant backdrop behind them which shows a river running past the little village and women carrying baskets on their heads.
We tried very hard to get some pictures of the children in motion, but they were too fast for us! Every one turned out totally blurry! So you will have to believe me when I say they did a brilliant job, and in my last picture you can see how beautiful they looked.