Bengal has an extremely rich culture with age old traditions, fine arts, music and craft. Several Nobel laureates were born in this blessed land of Bengal and have called it their home. Bengalis love to relish their food, read Sarat Chandra, sing Rabindra Nath and travel frequently. A visit to Kolkata is incomplete without shopping for the famous Kantha work, Batik or Rosogolla. Carry a bit of Bengal and create memories forever.

Here is a list of the 7 must buy things from Kolkata.

1. Rosogolla

The humble white wonders are the pride of Bengal since the Raj days. Right from Mini rosogollas to the Jumbo rosogollas, it all melts in your mouth and disappears into your soul only to crave for more. Look out for K.C.Das and Nobin Chandra Das who are the best in the industry and have appeased since generations. In Kolkata the chenna balls have got brighter and colourful, they are now available in 100+ flavours all doled out with love without the use of any artificial additive.

 2. Red and white cotton saree

The quintessential Bengali attire is incomplete without a Red and white saree. You may want to buy it in silk (Gawrod) or cotton (Tant). Artistically woven red and white sarees handcrafted by local artisans with intricate designs all over are available in most of the traditional saree showrooms in Gariahat.

3. Alta, Sindoor, Shakha and Pola

Signifying the marital status, every married Bengali woman is supposed to don sindoor in their parting of their hair, a sindoor bindi on their forehead and a pair of Shakha and Pola bangles. The Sindoor available here is of a typical red colour very specific to this land and is known to have therapeutic properties. Shakha, the conch shell bangle is delicately carved and at times inlaid with gold filigree to pair up with red coral bangles worn in both the hands for that ultimate bong look.

4. Sandesh

Delightful sweet meats made out of chenna and sold in various patterns and flavours is yet another speciality of Bengal. Abar Khabo, Jol Bhora, Chocolate Sandesh and Kancha Golla are a few Sandesh -es that one must try out at either Girish Chandra Dey and Nakur Chandra Dey, Balaram Mullick or any other old world Mishti shop.

5. Nolen Gur

Planning a trip to Kolkata during the winters? Indulge in packing the soulful Nolen Gur, the speciality jaggery of Bengal. Jaggery derived from date palm with a lot of love and patience.  This winter delicacy is available as Nolen Gur er ice cream, Nolen Gur er Sandesh and can also be accompanied with traditional pan cakes. Pack a few tubes of the liquid which is sold at Biswa Bangla stores.

6. Kantha stitch

Kantha which had once originated in Bangladesh was used by homemakers to upcycle old sarees is now a rage in the fashion industry. By courtesy of a few Fashion influencers Kantha has hit the global market and created a niche for itself. Invest in a silk Nakshi Kantha saree for your loved one or an intricately embroidered Kantha scarf for that corporate outfit. Plan for a day trip to Shantiniketan to witness an extraordinary collection of Kantha work.

7. Batik

A visit to any of the WB Government run emporiums can showcase the exquisite Batik work done on leather and textile. Leather Batik bags, batik sarees, dress materials and garments don the highly popular craftwork using the process of repeated dyeing process in certain patterns and designs.

What did you buy during your last visit to Kolkata?

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This article will envelop everything you wanted to know about Gamcha

The pride of a quintessential Bengali is a Gamcha.

Gamcha, a typical red colour, coarse, pure cotton, checkered towel, generally handed over from one generation to another with elan. Every Bengali visiting Puri during the summer vacation comes back with a dozen gamuchas as souvenirs to be gifted to family and friends with pride.

Every balcony or terrace in north Kolkata is adorned with a lineup of gamchas of various hues. A little boy in Kolkata is born with a gamcha wound delicately around him. On a hot and sunny Sunday, the men of the house laze around the home in their most comfortable attire, the gamcha (what in case of a wardrobe malfunction).The fabric provides unmatched natural air condition and with repeated use gets much softer and cosier. The boy reaches puberty adorned in a gamcha and enters manhood with pride. This little piece of an asset has borne the test of time.

Multiple uses of a gamcha

Any and every traditional occasion in a Bangali household demands a Gamcha, the soft cotton towel. A Bengali wedding, which is a much sought after occassion, out of several customs Subho Drishti is the most vital one, where the bride covers her eyes with two betel leaves while entering the chadnatala (the arena where the marriage takes place). Post the exchange of garlands, one end of the bride’s Sari is tied to the groom’s dhoti with lo and behold, a gamcha!!

A farmer or a villager’s friend, the humble gamcha accompanies him from morning to night. Right from the time he wakes up and has his morning cuppa the gamcha is snuggly held on his able shoulders. He starts his day with the multipurpose gamcha tied as a turban and walks towards the field. He sweats and toils in the little patch of land which only the gamcha is a testimony. After a few morsels of rice, Raghu yearns for a princely siesta under the peepal tree spreading out his humble gamcha to ease his spraining neck.  

I am sad to say that the gamcha is on its way to extinction with an array of colourful fluffy towels to compete.

There should be a protest to preserve and conserve the Gamcha culture of Kolkata!!

We shall overcome….the Pete Seeger way…….