21 Common Things Bengalis Do During Winter

Sheet Kaal Maanei

Winter, i.e. ‘Sheet Kaal’ for the Bengalis has a totally unique vibe to it. This season in particular comes with so many different activities, all tied under one term: The Winter. For Bengalis, winter comes right after Kali Pujo, i.e. the Diwali time.

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Moms take out the entire family’s winter clothes and starts cleaning them. The cold breeze starts peeping in and tickles our ears. Skin starts showing symptoms of dryness. And while you are returning from school, college or even work, you can feel that dry cold wind blowing onto your tender skin; persuading you to welcome the new season. The water of the kitchen sink and shower, starts getting cooler and your lips and heels shows up little cracks. The morning newspaper greets you with advertisements of winter sales and Winter Melas (fairs). The television ads try to lure you with the brand new body lotions and winter creams. And here you are; getting confirmed that it’s time for winter.

There are certain things that we Bengalis do in winter and that are so common among us bongs. We might not think too deep to sense these little things, but if you pay a bit attention and take a survey, those everyday winter-special activities are actually unique among us.

So what are those things that we Bengalis do specially in winter? Let’s check it out: 

1. Eating Komla lebu (oranges)

You know which colour dominates a Bengali’s winter? Orange! That’s right, and the orange hue is everywhere on the streets stacked on the fruit sellers’ carts: we are talking about the fruit ‘orange’ that actually dominates the season. At school Tiffin-time or lunch hours at work, or be it an evening time light meal, or a consolation prize at sports event we start including one orange in our routine. And it lasts till the season lasts.

2. Para-er Sports competition

Who wants to run in hot summer? ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that’. We are too lazy to organise sports event at any other seasons except for winter. Participating in a hundred metre race and other fun games like spoon and marble race, walking race, slow cycle competition, kids’ mathematics race and ladies’ musical chair competition is a whole lot of fun for us. And not to mention the oranges as a compulsory goodies and Tiffin box as the winner’s prize makes our Sports Day

3. Cauliflower Catalyst

What we generally mean by winter veggies is Cauliflowers aka ‘Phoolkobi’ in Bengali. And if it’s winter then Bengalis be having phoolkobi in everything. Cauliflowers paratha or Phoolkobi-er paratha, Phoolkobi-er chop, cauliflower Manchurian, phoolkobi-er curry and endless dishes of phoolkobi will be serving on your plates if you are a Bengali hungry at the winter time.

4. Vaseline or Boroline?

Bengali has their own backup when it comes to winter skin care. And every dressing table, makeup bag contains either Vaseline or Boroline. Both are equally essential in Bengali’s winter-care routine. It really does keep our skin soft, smooth and free from dryness. And if you by chance forgot to carry it in your bag, the TV will remind you with the Ad slogan, “Surobhito antiseptic cream Boroline”. And then there comes Nivea, yet another oldish product that’s recalled especially when winter arrives.

5. Pithe in Poush parbon

And the mouth watering season is here. Winter is all about pampering your taste buds with the best of our pithe cooking skills. Bengalis make the tastiest of pithes, the sweet dishes made of simplest and natural ingredients. Patishapta, Puli pithe, gokul pithe, payesh, malpua are some of the most popular sweet dishes we make at home. And if you are not a good cook like me, then you can have it from sweet shops.

6. Melting coconut oil under the sun

Now that’s one heck of a scientific experiment that we as a kid used to get surprised: to see a liquid transparent coconut oil gets hardened like a white cream. And to melt that, we Bengalis rather keep it near the gas oven or we place it under the Sun. Coconut oil is one of the most essential oil especially for winter. Many of us also apply it on our body to keep it soft.

7. Muffler, Sweater, Monkey-tupi, Shawl and Chador

Winter means winter clothes and for Bengalis the most essential winter armours are: muffler or what we Bengalis say as ‘maaflaar’, mokey caps or our monkey-tupi, sweater, shawl and chador. The last year’s winter clothes, if it’s in fine condition then those are washed well and are all ready to be used this year as well. New Market and Bhutia Market of Kolkata becomes the hub of winter clothing, keeping aside the branded ones.

8. Winter sleep or ‘Sheet Ghum’

The cold weather tickling your body through the small gap of your blanket in which you have wrapped yourself in, accompanied with the cosy bed of yours that’s guided with two-three pillows by your side: sets up a perfect environment for a sound winter sleep. And in winter specifically, you will notice the intensity of Bengalis’ “lyadh” and naps getting higher and almost uncountable. Sheet kaal er ghum –is the perfect ghum, isn’t it?

9. Joynagarer Moa

Whether being a Bengali, you know about the place Joynagar or not, but you are definitely familiar with Joynagarer Moa. It is a Bengali sweetmeat delicacy, that’s prepared with sugar or palm jaggery and puffed rice. The popularity of this sweet dish is so much that almost the entire Bengal gets to have a taste of it during the winter. Sweet shops, local markets, pice hotels, restaurants and even hawkers and vendors who sells Joynagarer Moa. The puffed rice blended completely in jaggery gives you that soft textured feeling in your mouth. Overall it’s an entire pleasure dish for the winter.

10. Fair fun: Mela-er moja

It’s the perfect season for mela or the fair. On various places at various Mela grounds, fairs are held which attracts tons of crowds. Some are themed Melas, for example: Boi Mela or the International Kolkata Book fair, Hosto Shilpo Mela i.e. the Handicraft Mela, Pushpo Prodorshoni i.e. the Flower exhibition, Winter Clothing fair and so on. From kids to adults, we all enjoy the fairs. Bengalis are best at bargaining, therefore we excel in unlimited shopping, eating phuchkas and masala popcorns, enjoying rides or ‘nagordolna’ and taking endless selfies.

11. Picnic Party: Picnic-e Dance

Winter is absolutely incomplete for the Bengalis without picnics. All the popular places are booked up since a month ago and the places becomes overcrowded on both the weekends and the weekdays. Gadiara, Bawali, Falta, Diamond Harbour, Mukutmanipur, Shantiniketan, Barrackpore and all the well-known picnic destinations gets fully reserved. Unlimited fun with family, friends and colleagues; free style dance on your favourite music, munching on to some richly cooked veggies and non-vegetarian varieties of delicacies and endless selfies are some obligatory activities that we do.

12. Winter holidays

School and college kids are lucky to have a long time winter holidays from the authorities of schools and colleges. They chalk out some nice plans and parties even before holiday dates are declared. And the job holders, who are not fortunate enough to get long holidays gets their own by applying for leaves. Sheet-er chuti -is a must and Bengalis know it well how to get some.

13. Winter vacation

There are tons of beautiful places to visit on winter. Be it local, national or even an international tour, winter serves the best season for a vacation. The cold breeze, cooler sand, cooler weather, less sunshine sets the most perfect ambiance to pack your bags and go. Bengalis leave no stone unturned to grab this opportunity. Travelling is in their blood. And winter season is the perfect excuse.

14. Marriage ceremonies: Biye bari invitation

No matter what plans are on winter, Bengalis have at least their one day dedicated to biye bari –i.e. marriage ceremonies.  Someone or the other surely gets married of whom we somehow know and are invited. And Bengalis prepare themselves for that marriage invitation more than the would-be bride and groom.  Wedding shopping, parlour prepping ups, wedding gifts and the ‘To do’ list goes on.

15. Change in Skincare routine

On winter, your skin need special skincare treatment as our soft and fragile skin starts to break. And as winter arrives, our skincare regime starts adding a whole bunch of new products such as: moisturizers, hydrating creams, cold creams and so on. From television ads to every drugstores sells winter-care products in a very tempting offers and discounts.  Beauty gurus on social media come with new ideas of how to keep your skin hydrated and fresh even in winter. And to guide us better, Bengali magazines come with natural winter-care ‘roop-chorchaa’ tips.

16. Winter sickness: Sordi-khasi, gola-kharap

What’s the meaning of winter if we don’t catch a cold and blow our nose on our favourite ‘rumaal’? On one hand winter comes with loads of fun, but to keep a fair balance, it also gives us mild illness such as cough and cold, sore throat, flu and so on. And that’s the time when we Bengalis put out amours against these illnesses. Ginger pieces and honey for itchy throat, cough syrups and ‘vapourub’ and balms for mild headaches and blocked nose and two spoons of Chawanprash –to fight against all the winter-sickness are very common among us.

17. Fighting the unwelcomed guests i.e. the Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are the most annoying thing about the entire winter. These tiny little dangerous creatures are mood spoilers for the romantic season. Good Knight, All Out and other popular mosquito repellents are lit up at every corners of home. Mosquito nets are must thing for the Bengalis to use before going to bed.

18. Endless Parties

Winter parties starts way before Christmas celebration ring the bells. Planning gets started, invitation calls in, night clubs, pubs, discs gets overcrowded. Not to mention, the Park Street area, which is famous for Christmas and New Year Celebrations are all jammed up during this time. Streets and houses get decorated with lights; parties get started with cakes, wines, get-togethers and endless fun. And with the parties also starts the countdown for Christmas and New Year.

19. Playing with the Fog

The natural phenomenon that occurs during winter which we all love: is the morning fog. The white smog conceals the entire city and all we feel is lazier to wake up. And while walking on the streets we pretend to smoke out the fogs as if we are smoking a big cigar.

20. Tea-time: Gorom gorom chaa

There is no specific tea-time among the Bengalis during winter. At home, during work hours, in lunch breaks, in the evening, anytime you say, the tea is absolutely okay for us. The chilly foggy weather with one sip of hot chaay –is what gears up the chemistry of bonding with the nature’s lovely seasons.

21. Endless Romance

The romance with nature, with loved ones and with yourself is what Bengali’s winter is all about. All the kids park and adults park are full of people chilling with the weather. The cold breeze boosts up the love hormones among the couples as you see them cuddling up in all the seats of the parks and restaurants.

Image Credit : Candid Photography


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