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Dolyatra is recognized in West Bengal, India as the final festival of the year, falling on the last day of the Bengali calendar (also the last full moon). The holiday often occurs in March or sometimes late February, and is celebrated over a span of four days. Dolyatra is not to be confused with Holi, which is celebrated on the same day for different reasons.
Dolyatra is an ancient holiday honoring the love of Indian legends, Radha and Krishna. Traditions begin with a bonfire that is used for prayer. On day two, colorful powder called “phag” is used in multiple rituals. Phag is first applied to photos of deceased family members and is then spread onto the feet of elders. Once respects have been paid to the deceased and the elderly, everyone is smeared with color. The use of phag continues throughout day three and four.
How to honor Dolyatra now and throughout the year
While it’s a regional holiday, there are ways that you can show support and recognize the celebratory nature of Dolyatra at work.
- Make or provide colored powder (“phag”) for employees to be used in celebrations.
- Share homemade dairy products with employees – dairy products are made and shared amongst everyone during Dolyatra.
- Consider closing the office in observance or ensure to honor requests from employees to take this day off.