Basanta Utsav: Celebrating Spring In Shantiniketan

Basanta Utsav: Celebrating Spring In Shantiniketan
Photo Credit: soumen82hazra / Shutterstock

Cultural performances are the focus of this festival held in Rabindranath Tagore's university town

OT Staff
March 06 , 2023
01 Min Read

Shantiniketan, in the Birbhum district, is intimately associated with the memories of Noble Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore. So, in a suitably poetic mode, the town observes Holi as the Spring Festival or Basanta Utsav, where the focus is more on cultural performances.

Colours and cultural presentations take precedence at this celebration of Doljatra (as Holi is known is West Bengal) at Viswa Bharati University in Shantiniketan, founded by Tagore. The great visionary that he was, Tagore introduced season-based festivals, shorn of any religious association, to Viswa Bharati. So on the day of Doljatra, Shantiniketan observes Basanta Utsav, celebrated for the onset spring. 


As Tagore had wanted the institute’s festivals to be guided by the seasons and not religion, the teachers and students begin the day early with processions going around the campus, singing Tagore’s songs, performing a ‘prabhat feri’ or a ‘morning procession’. Then students, teachers and other residents start gathering at the university complex. While men usually don white attire, women wear a yellow sari with red borders.

The coloured powder or ‘abir’ is first applied to the feet of elders and then everyone begins smearing each other with colours. As the day lengthens, the participants break into smaller groups and spend the day through more singing and dancing. Earlier, visitors too could join the celebrations but, according to some local residents, the rowdy behaviour by some visitors in the past has put an end to that.

The Information

Shantiniketan becomes crowded with tourists from Kolkata around this time. Accommodation is aplenty but advance reservation is advisable because Doljatra is a popular festival here. 

Getting There: The nearest railhead is at Bolpur. By road, it is about 60km. And by train, it takes around 2.5 to 3.5 hours. 

Related Articles


Here to there

Explore Directions(Routes) and more...
to Go

Other Editions

Outlook’ is India’s most vibrant weekly news magazine with critically and globally acclaimed print and digital editions. Now in its 23rd year...

Explore All
  • Check out our Magazine of the month
  • Offbeat destinations
  • In-depth storytelling
  • Stunning pictures
  • Subscribe