India is the land of culture and multitudinous festivals. Anyone would face difficulty in counting as list of festivals goes on & on. West Bengal (India) and Southern Bangladesh witness many festivals in common. One such common Hindu folk festival is "CHARAK" (a.k.a Nil Puja). This festival is celebrated every year in the month of April and a day before Bengali calender's new year (Poela Baisakh). In this festival, Lord Shiva is worshiped along with Goddess Kali in their multiple incarnations. People especially worship Lord Shiva to end their regular suffering & past year's sins and bring prosperity, good health and happiness to them. Devotees walks from one village to another in search of Bhiksa (alms) for celebrating the 3 days of CHARAK festival.
I work in a reputed Telecommunication Company as an Operations & Maintenance Engineer and currently posted in Behrampore, Murshidabad, West Bengal. As Murshidabad district of West Bengal is a close neighbor of Bangladesh, so I was lucky to experience such a rich-cultured folk festival full of thrills, dangerous acts by professionals, and allured celebration for 3 continuous days in.
Two local colleagues of mine took me to their club to show how the festival ritual starts as they were aware of my little to nil knowledge about CHARAK. I saw huge amount of crop varieties occupying almost 2 rooms of a house which would be used in these 3 days for various rituals. There were many people doing their respective works like playing dhaaks (musical instrument), many people were busy doing make ups on themselves to get in to a incarnated form of goddess Kali & Lord Shiva and few were busy with pre-ritual works. Everything was new to me and it felt like I am in some other country, witnessing a never seen folk festival of that country.