Kolkata, April 15 Devotees thronged the famous temples of goddess Kali at Kalighat and Dakshineshwar to offer prayers and people greeted each other with sweets Friday as West Bengal ushered in "Poila Baisakh", the Bengali New Year 1418.
As per Bengali tradition, the day also marked the beginning of a new financial year with the shopkeepers and businesspersons closing their old account books and opening new ones, which is called the "haal khata" ceremony.
Thousands of people, most of them traders, visited the famous temples of goddess Kali at Kalighat and Dakshineshwar to offer prayers.
Stringed fresh lemons and chillies were found dangling in front of shops to ward off the evil spirits. Smiling traders welcomed customers with sweets and new Bengali calendars, as people went on a shopping spree.
No celebration in a Bengali home can be complete without the presence of mouth-watering cuisines and sweets. The aroma of deliciously prepared delicacies added up to the festive mood.
Authentic Bengali restaurants prepared special menu for the New Year, and as evening progressed there were long queues at the dining hubs of Park street and Tangra.
People greeted each other with "shobho naba barsho" (happy new year) and kids exchanged greeting cards.
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.