West Bengal (,
Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they speak ** Bengali alphabet, the wr ...
: ''Paschim Banga'' ) is a
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
in the eastern region of
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest ...

along the
Bay of Bengal The Bay of Bengal is the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering or 19.8% of the water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and tr ...
. With over 91 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous state and the fourteenth-largest state by area in India. Covering an area of , it is also the eighth-most populous country subdivision of the world. Part of the
Bengal region Bengal (; bn, বাংলা/বঙ্গ, translit=Bānglā/Bôngô, ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region located in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical ...
of the Indian subcontinent, it borders
Bangladesh Bangladesh (; bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, eighth-most populous country in the world, with a populati ...
in the east, and
Nepal Nepal (; ne, :ne:नेपाल, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in S ...

Bhutan Bhutan (; dz, འབྲུག་ཡུལ་, Druk Yul, ), officially known as the Kingdom of Bhutan ( dz, འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་, Druk Gyal Khap), is a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas. It is bordered by Ch ...
in the north. It also borders the Indian states of
Odisha Odisha (English: , The 'sha' spelling comes about from the historical or Sanskritic letter śa (ଶ), however all Odia sibilants today are realised as sa (ସ). ), formerly Orissa (), is an Indian state located in Eastern India. It is the 8th ...

Jharkhand Jharkhand (; ; meaning 'the land of forests') is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (n ...

Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by population and list of states and union territories of India by area, ...
Sikkim Sikkim (; ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in C ...

Assam Assam (, ) is a state in Northeast India, northeastern India, south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra Valley, Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys. Assam covers an area of . The state is bordered by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh to ...

. The state capital is
Kolkata Kolkata ( or , ; also known as Calcutta , List of renamed Indian cities and states#West Bengal, the official name until 2001) is the Capital city, capital of the Indian States and union territories of India, state of West Bengal. Located on ...
, the third-largest metropolis, and seventh largest city by population in India. West Bengal includes the
Darjeeling Himalayan hill region Darjeeling Himalayan hill region or Darjeeling Himalaya is the mountainous area on the north-western side of the state of West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali language, Bengali: ''Paschim Banga'' ) is a States and union territories of India, ...
, the
Ganges delta The Ganges Delta (also known as the Sundarbans Delta or the Bengal Delta) is a river delta A river delta is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body. Landforms toget ...
, the
Rarh region Rarh region () is a toponym Toponymy, also toponymics or toponomastics (from grc, τόπος / , 'place', and / , 'name') is the study of '' toponyms'' (proper names of places, also known as ''place name'' or ''geographic name''), their ori ...
and the coastal
Sundarbans The Sundarbans is a mangrove A mangrove is a shrub or small tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water. The term is also used for tropical coastal vegetation consisting of such species. Mangroves occur worldwide in the tropics ...

. The state's main ethnic group are the
Bengalis Bengalis or Bangalis ( bn, বাঙালি ), also rendered as the Bengali people, are an Indo-Aryan peoples, Indo-Aryan ethnolinguistic group native to the Bengal region in South Asia. The population is divided between the independent co ...
, with the
Bengali Hindus Bengali Hindus ( bn, বাঙালি হিন্দু) are an ethnic, linguistic and religious population who make up the majority in the Indian states India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a ...
forming the demographic majority. The area's early history featured a succession of Indian empires, internal squabbling, and a tussle between
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religious groups, world's third-largest religion, with over 1.2 billion followers, or 15–16% of the global population, known as Hindus. The word ''Hindu'' is ...

Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...
for dominance. Ancient Bengal was the site of several major
Janapadas The Janapadas () were the realms, republics (ganapada) and kingdoms (saamarajya) of the Vedic period on the Indian subcontinent. The Vedic period reaches from the late Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period th ...
, while the earliest cities date back to the Vedic period. The region was part of several ancient pan−Indian empires, including the Vangas,
Mauryans The Maurya Empire was a Greater India, geographically extensive Iron Age list of ancient great powers, historical power in South Asia based in Magadha, founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 322 BCE, and existing in loose-knit fashion until 185 BC ...
, and the
Guptas The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire existing from the mid-to-late 3rd century CE to 543 CE. At its zenith, from approximately 319 to 467 CE, it covered much of the Indian subcontinent. This period is considered as the Golden Age of In ...

. The citadel of Gauḍa served as the capital of the
Gauḍa Kingdom
Gauḍa Kingdom
, the
Pala Empire The Pala Empire ( bn, পাল সাম্রাজ্য) was an imperial power during the Post-classical history, post-classical period in the Indian subcontinent, which originated in the region of Bengal. It is named after its ruling dynast ...
, and the Sena Empire.
Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the ''s'' is or , and whether the ''a'' is pronounced , or (when the stress is on the first syllable) ( ...
was introduced through trade with the
Abbasid Caliphate The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, ') was the third caliphate to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul-Mutta ...
, but following the
Ghurid The Ghurids or Ghorids ( fa, سلسله غوریان; self-designation: , ''Shansabānī'') were a dynasty of Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ...
conquests led by
Bakhtiyar Khalji Ikhtiyār al-Dīn Muḥammad Bakhtiyār Khaljī ( fa, اختيار الدين محمد بختيار خلجی), popularly known as Bakhtiyar Khalji ( bn, বখতিয়ার খলজী, Bokhtiyar Kholjī), was a Turko-Afghan military genera ...
and the establishment of the
Delhi Sultanate The Delhi Sultanate was an Islamic empire based in Delhi that stretched over large parts of the Indian subcontinent for 320 years (1206–1526).
, the Muslim faith spread across the entire Bengal region. During the
Bengal Sultanate The Sultanate of Bengal ( bn, শাহী বাংলা, fa, ''Shāhī Bangālah''), was an empire based in Bengal for much of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. It was the dominant power of the Ganges–Brahmaputra Delta, with a network ...

Bengal Sultanate
, the territory was a major
trading nation A trading nation (also known as a trade-dependent economy, or an export-oriented economy) is a country where international trade International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories ...
in the world, and was often referred by the Europeans as the "richest country to trade with".


, West Bengal has the sixth-highest GSDP in India. GSDP at current prices (base 2004–2005) has increased from Rs 2,086.56 billion in 2004–05 to Rs 8,00,868 crores in 2014–2015, reaching Rs 10,21,000 crores in 2017–18. GSDP percent growth at current prices varied from a low of 10.3% in 2010–2011 to a high of 17.11% in 2013–2014. The growth rate was 13.35% in 2014–2015. The state's per capita income has lagged the all India average for over two decades. As of 2014–2015, per capita NSDP at current prices was Rs78,903. Per-capita NSDP growth rate at current prices varied from 9.4% in 2010–2011 to a high of 16.15% in 2013–2014. The growth rate was 12.62% in 2014–2015. In 2015–2016, percentage share of Gross Value Added (GVA) at factor cost by economic activity at constant price (base year 2011–2012) was Agriculture-Forestry and Fishery—4.84%, Industry 18.51% and Services 66.65%. It has been observed that there has been a slow but steady decline in the percentage share of industry and agriculture over the years. Agriculture is the leading economic sector in West Bengal. Rice is the state's principal food crop. Rice, potato, jute, sugarcane and wheat are the state's top five crops. Tea is produced commercially in northern districts; the region is well known for Darjeeling tea, Darjeeling and other high-quality teas. State industries are localised in the Kolkata region, the mineral-rich western highlands, and the Haldia Port region. The Durgapur-Asansol colliery belt is home to a number of steel plants. Important manufacturing industries include: engineering products, electronics, electrical equipment, cables, steel, leather, textiles, jewellery, frigates, automobiles, railway coaches and wagons. The Durgapur centre has established a number of industries in the areas of tea, sugar, chemicals and fertilisers. Natural resources like tea and jute in nearby areas has made West Bengal a major centre for the jute and tea industries. Years after independence, West Bengal is dependent on the central government for help in meeting its demands for food; food production remained stagnant, and the Indian green revolution bypassed the state. However, there has been a significant increase in food production since the 1980s and the state now has a surplus of grains. The state's share of total industrial output in India was 9.8% in 1980–1981, declining to 5% by 1997–1998. In contrast, the service sector has grown at a rate higher than the national rate. The state's total financial debt stood at as of 2011. In the period 2004–2010, the average gross domestic product, gross state domestic product (GSDP) growth rate was 13.9% (calculated in Indian rupee terms) lower than 15.5%, the average for all states of the country. The economy of West Bengal has witnessed many surprising changes in direction. The agricultural sector in particular rose to 8.33% in 2010–11 before tumbling to −4.01% in 2012–13. Many major industries such as the Uttarpara Hindustan Motors car manufacturing unit, the jute industry, and the Haldia Petrochemicals unit experienced shutdowns in 2014. In the same year, plans for a 300 billion Jindal Steel project was mothballed. The tea industry of West Bengal has also witnessed shutdowns for financial and political reasons. The tourism industry of West Bengal was negatively impacted in 2017 because of the Gorkhaland agitation. However, over the years due to effective changes in the stance towards industrialisation, ease of doing business has improved in West Bengal. Steps are being taken to remedy this situation by promoting West Bengal as an investment destination. Kolkata Leather Complex, A leather complex has been built in Kolkata. Smart cities are being planned close to Kolkata, and major roadway projects are in the offing to revive the economy. West Bengal has been able to attract 2% of the foreign direct investment in the last decade.


File:External view of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport.jpg, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport is a hub for flights to and from Bangladesh, East Asia, Nepal, Bhutan and north-east India. File:Durgapur Xpressway.jpg, Durgapur Expressway File:SBSTC bus in karunamoyee.jpg, An SBSTC bus in Karunamoyee File:Kolkata Metro.jpg, Kolkata Metro, India's first metro rail system As of 2011, the total length of surface roads in West Bengal was over ; National highways of India, national highways comprise and state highways . As of 2006, the road density of the state was , higher than the national average of . As of 2011, the total railway route length was around . Kolkata is the headquarters of three zones of the Indian Railways—Eastern Railway (India), Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway (India), South Eastern Railway and the Kolkata Metro, which is the newly formed 17thzone of the Indian Railways. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) serves the northern parts of the state. The Kolkata metro is the country's first underground railway. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, part of NFR, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport at Dum Dum, Kolkata, is the state's largest airport. Bagdogra Airport near Siliguri is a customs airport that offers international service to Bhutan and Thailand, besides regular domestic service. Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport, India's first private sector airport, serves the twin cities of Asansol-Durgapur at Andal, Paschim Bardhaman. Kolkata is a major river port in eastern India. The Kolkata Port Trust manages the Kolkata and the Haldia docks. There is passenger service to Port Blair on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Cargo ship service operates to ports in India and abroad, operated by the Shipping Corporation of India. Ferries are a principal mode of transport in the southern part of the state, especially in the Sundarbans area. Kolkata is the only city in India to have Trams in Kolkata, trams as a mode of transport; these are operated by the Calcutta Tramways Company. Several government-owned organisations operate bus services in the state, including: the Calcutta State Transport Corporation, the North Bengal State Transport Corporation, the South Bengal State Transport Corporation, the West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation and the Calcutta Tramways Company. There are also private bus companies. The railway system is a nationalised service without any private investment. Hired forms of transport include metered taxis and auto rickshaws, which often ply specific routes in cities. In most of the state, cycle rickshaws and in Kolkata, Pulled rickshaw#India, hand-pulled rickshaws and electric rickshaws are used for short-distance travel.


According to the provisional results of the 2011 national census, West Bengal is the fourth-most-populous state in India with a population of 91,347,736 (7.55% of India's population). The state's 2001–2011 decennial population growth rate was 13.93%, lower than the 1991–2001 growth rate of 17.8% and lower than the national rate of 17.64%. The gender ratio is 947 females per 1,000 males. As of 2011, West Bengal had a population density of making it the second-most densely populated state in India, after Bihar. The literacy rate is 77.08%, higher than the national rate of 74.04%. Data from 2010 to 2014 showed the life expectancy in the state was 70.2 years, higher than the national value of 67.9. The proportion of people living below the poverty line in 2013 was 19.98%, a decline from 31.8% a decade ago. Scheduled castes and tribes form 28.6% and 5.8% of the population, respectively, in rural areas and 19.9% and 1.5%, respectively, in urban areas. In September 2017, West Bengal achieved 100% electrification, after some remote villages in the Sunderbans became the last to be electrified. As of September 2017, of 125 towns and cities in Bengal, 76 have achieved open defecation free (ODF) status. All towns in the districts of: Nadia, North 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Bardhaman and East Medinipur are ODF zones, with Nadia becoming the first ODF district in the state in April 2015. A study conducted in three districts of West Bengal found that accessing private health services to treat illness had a catastrophic impact on households. This indicates the importance of public provision of health services to mitigate against poverty and the impact of illness on poor households. The latest Sample Registration System (SRS) statistical report shows that West Bengal has the lowest fertility rate among Indian states. West Bengal's total fertility rate was 1.6, lower than Bihar's 3.4, which is the highest in the entire country. Bengal's TFR of 1.6 roughly equals that of Canada. Bengali people, Bengalis, consisting of
Bengali Hindus Bengali Hindus ( bn, বাঙালি হিন্দু) are an ethnic, linguistic and religious population who make up the majority in the Indian states India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a ...
, Bengali Muslims, Bengali Christians and a few Bengali Buddhists, comprise the majority of the population. Marwari people, Marwari, Maithils, Maithili and Bhojpuri people, Bhojpuri speakers are scattered throughout the state; various indigenous ethnic Buddhist communities such as the Sherpa (people), Sherpas, Bhutias, Lepcha people, Lepchas, Tamang people, Tamangs, Hyolmo people, Yolmos and ethnic Tibetan people, Tibetans can be found in the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region. Native Khortha language, Khortha speakers are found in Malda district. Surjapuri language, Surjapuri, a language considered to be a mix of Maithili and Bengali, is spoken across northern parts of the state. The Darjeeling Hills are mainly inhabited by various Gorkha communities who overwhelmingly speak Nepali language, Nepali (also known as Gorkhali), although there are some who retain their ancestral languages like Lepcha language, Lepcha. West Bengal is also home to indigenous tribal Adivasis such as: Santhal people, Santhal, Munda people, Munda, Oraon, Bhumij, Lodha, Kol (people), Kol and Toto people, Toto. There are a small number of Ethnic communities in Kolkata, ethnic minorities primarily in the state capital, including : Overseas Chinese, Chinese, Tamil people, Tamils, Maharashtrians, Odia people, Odias, Malayalis, Gujarati people, Gujaratis, Anglo-Indians, Armenians in India, Armenians, Jews, Punjabis and Parsi people, Parsis. India's sole Chinatown is in eastern Kolkata.


The state's official languages are Bengali and English;

Nepali language, Nepali has additional official status in the three subdivisions of Darjeeling district. In 2012, the state government passed a bill granting additional official status to Hindi, Odia language, Odia, Punjabi language, Punjabi, Santali language, Santali and Urdu in areas where speakers exceed 10% of the population. In 2019, another bill was passed by the government to include KRNB lects, Kamtapuri, Kurmali and Rangpuri language, Rajbanshi as additional official languages in blocks, divisions or districts where the speakers exceed 10% of the population. On 24 December 2020, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced Telugu language, Telugu as an additional official language. As of the 2011 census, 86.22% of the population spoke
Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they speak ** Bengali alphabet, the wr ...
, 5.00% Hindi, 2.66% Santali language, Santali, 1.82% Urdu and 1.26% Nepali language, Nepali as their first language.


West Bengal is religiously diverse, with regional cultural and religious specificities. Although Hinduism in West Bengal, Hindus are the predominant community, the state has a large minority Islam in West Bengal, Muslim population. Christians, Buddhists and others form a minuscule part of the population. As of 2011 Census of India, 2011,
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religious groups, world's third-largest religion, with over 1.2 billion followers, or 15–16% of the global population, known as Hindus. The word ''Hindu'' is ...

is the most common religion, with adherents representing 70.54% of the total population. Muslims, the second-largest community, comprise 27.01% of the total population, Three of West Bengal's districts: Murshidabad, Malda and Uttar Dinajpur, are Muslim-majority. Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism and other religions make up the remainder. Buddhism remains a prominent religion in the Himalayan region of the Darjeeling hills; almost the entirety of West Bengal's Buddhist population is from this region. Christianity is mainly found among the tea garden tribes at tea plantations scattered throughout the Dooars of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts. The Hindu population of West Bengal is 64,385,546 while the Muslim population is 24,654,825, according to the 2011 census.



The Bengali language boasts a rich literary heritage it shares with neighbouring Bangladesh. West Bengal has a long tradition of folk literature, evidenced by the ''Charyapada'', a collection of Buddhist mystic songs dating back to the 10th and 11thcenturies; ''Mangalkavya'', a collection of Hindu narrative poetry composed around the 13thcentury; ''Shreekrishna Kirtana'', a pastoral Vaishnava drama in verse composed by Boru Chandidas; ''Thakurmar Jhuli'', a collection of Bengali folk and fairy tales compiled by Dakshinaranjan Mitra Majumder; and stories of Gopal Bhar, a court jester in medieval Bengal. In the 19th and 20thcenturies, Bengali literature was modernised in the works of authors such as Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, whose works marked a departure from the traditional verse-oriented writings prevalent in that period; Michael Madhusudan Dutt, a pioneer in Bengali theatre, Bengali drama who introduced the use of blank verse; and Rabindranath Tagore, who reshaped Bengali literature and Music of Bengal, music. Indian art saw the introduction of Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20thcenturies. Other notable figures include Kazi Nazrul Islam, whose compositions form the Avant-garde music, avant-garde genre of ''Nazrul Sangeet'', Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, whose works on contemporary social practices in Bengal are widely acclaimed, and Manik Bandyopadhyay, who is considered one of the leading lights of modern Bengali fiction. In modern times, Jibanananda Das has been acknowledged as "the premier poet of the post-Tagore era in India". Other writers include: Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, best known for his work ''Pather Panchali''; Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, well known for his portrayal of the lower strata of society; Manik Bandopadhyay, a pioneering novelist; and Ashapurna Devi, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Saradindu Bandopadhyay, Buddhadeb Guha, Mahashweta Devi, Samaresh Majumdar, Sanjeev Chattopadhyay, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Buddhadeb Basu, Joy Goswami and Sunil Gangopadhyay.

Music and dance

A notable music tradition is the Baul music, practised by the Bauls, a sect of mystic minstrels. Other folk music forms include Gombhira and Bhawaiya. Folk music in West Bengal is often accompanied by the ektara, a one-stringed instrument. Shyama Sangeet is a genre of devotional songs, praising the Hindu goddess Kali; kirtan is devotional group songs dedicated to the god Krishna. Like other states in northern India, West Bengal also has a heritage in Hindustani classical music, North Indian classical music. Rabindrasangeet, songs composed and set to words by Rabindranath Tagore, and List of works of Kazi Nazrul Islam, Nazrul geeti (by Kazi Nazrul Islam) are popular. Also prominent are Dwijendralal Ray, Dwijendralal, Atulprasad Sen, Atulprasad and Rajanikanta Sen, Rajanikanta's songs, and ''adhunik'' or modern music from films and other composers. From the early 1990s, Indian rock#Rock scenes, new genres of music have emerged, including what has been called Bengali ''Jeebonmukhi Gaan'' (a modern genre based on realism). Bengali dance forms draw from folk traditions, especially those of the tribal groups, as well as the broader Indian classical dance, Indian dance traditions. Chau dance, Chhau dance of Purulia is a rare form of masked dance.


Cinema of West Bengal, West Bengali films are shot mostly in studios in the Kolkata neighbourhood of Tollygunge; the name "Tollywood" (similar to Hollywood and Bollywood) is derived from that name. The Bengali film industry is well known for its art films, and has produced acclaimed directors like Satyajit Ray who is widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century, Mrinal Sen whose films were known for their artistic depiction of social reality, Tapan Sinha who was one of the most prominent Indian film directors of his time, and Ritwik Ghatak. Some contemporary directors include veterans such as: Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Tarun Majumdar, Goutam Ghose, Aparna Sen, and Rituparno Ghosh, and a newer pool of directors such as Kaushik Ganguly and Srijit Mukherji.

Fine arts

There are significant examples of fine arts in Bengal from earlier times, including the terracotta art of Hindu temples and the Kalighat paintings. Bengal has been in the vanguard of modernism in fine arts. Abanindranath Tagore, called the father of modern Indian art, started the Bengal School of Art, one of whose goals was to promote the development of styles of art outside the European realist tradition that had been taught in art colleges under the British colonial administration. The movement had many adherents, including: Gaganendranath Tagore, Ramkinkar Baij, Jamini Roy and Rabindranath Tagore. After Indian Independence, important groups such as the Calcutta Group and the Society of Contemporary Artists were formed in Bengal and came to dominate the art scene in India.

Reformist heritage

The capital, Kolkata, was the workplace of several social reformers, including Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar and Swami Vivekananda. Their social reforms eventually led to a cultural atmosphere that made it possible for practices like Sati (practice), sati, Dowry#India, dowry, and Caste system in India, caste-based discrimination, or untouchability, to be abolished.''History of the Bengali-speaking People'' by Nitish Sengupta, p 211, UBS Publishers' Distributors Pvt. Ltd. . The region was also home to several religious teachers, such as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Chaitanya, Ramakrishna, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Prabhupada and Paramahansa Yogananda.


Rice and fish are traditional favourite foods, leading to a saying in Bengali, "''machhe bhate bangali''", that translates as "fish and rice make a Bengali". Bengal's vast repertoire of fish-based dishes includes hilsa preparations, a favourite among Bengalis. There are numerous ways of cooking fish depending on its texture, size, fat content and bones. Most of the people also consume eggs, chicken, mutton, and shrimp. ''Panta bhat'' (rice soaked overnight in water) with onion and green chili is a traditional dish consumed in rural areas. Common spices found in a Bengali kitchen include cumin, ajmoda (radhuni), bay leaf, Mustard seed, mustard, ginger, Chili pepper, green chillies and turmeric. Sweets occupy an important place in the diet of Bengalis and at their social ceremonies. Bengalis make distinctive confectionary, sweetmeats from milk products, including ''Rasgulla, Rôshogolla'', ''Chômchôm'', ''Kalojam'' and several kinds of ''Sandesh (confectionery), sondesh''. Pitha, a kind of sweet cake, bread, or dim sum, are specialties of the winter season. Sweets such as ''narkol-naru'', ''til-naru'', ''moa'' and ''payesh'' are prepared during festivals such as Lakshmi Puja, Lakshmi puja. Popular street foods include Aloor Chop, Beguni, Kati roll, biryani, and phuchka.


Bengali women commonly wear the ''sari'', often distinctly designed according to local cultural customs. In urban areas, many women and men wear western attire. Among men, western dress has greater acceptance. Particularly on cultural occasions, men also wear traditional costumes such as the ''kurta, panjabi'' with ''dhoti, dhuti'' while women wear ''salwar kameez'' or ''sari''. West Bengal produces several varieties of cotton and silk ''saris'' in the country. Handlooms are a popular way for the state's rural population to earn a living through weaving. Every district has weaving clusters, which are home to artisan communities, each specialising in specific varieties of handloom weaving. Notable handloom saris include ''tant'', ''jamdani'', ''garad'', ''korial'', ''baluchari'', ''tussar'' and muslin.


Durga Puja is the biggest, most popular and widely celebrated festival in West Bengal. The five-day-long colourful Hindu festival includes intense celebration across the state. Pandals are erected in various cities, towns, and villages throughout West Bengal. The city of Kolkata undergoes a transformation during Durga Puja. It is decked up in lighting decorations and thousands of colourful pandals are set up where effigies of the goddess Durga and her four children are displayed and worshipped. The idols of the goddess are brought in from Kumortuli, where idol-makers work throughout the year fashioning clay-models of the goddess. Since independence in 1947, Durga Puja has slowly changed into more of a glamorous carnival than a religious festival. Today people of diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds partake in the festivities. On Vijayadashami, the last day of the festival, the effigies are paraded through the streets with riotous pageantry before being dumped into the rivers. Rath Yatra is a Hindu festival which celebrates Jagannath, a form of Krishna. It is celebrated with much fanfare in Kolkata as well as in rural Bengal. Images of Jagannath are set upon a chariot and pulled through the streets. Other major festivals of West Bengal include: Poila Baishakh the Bengali new year, Dolyatra or Holi the festival of lights, Nobanno, Poush Parbon, Kali Puja, Shakta Rash, Nabadwip Shakta Rash, Saraswati Puja, Diwali, Deepavali, Lakshmi Puja, Janmashtami, Jagaddhatri Puja, Vishwakarma Puja, Bhai Phonta, Raksha Bandhan, Rakhi Bandhan, Kalpataru Day, Shivratri, Ganesh Chathurthi, Maghotsav, Kartik (month), Kartik Puja, Akshay Tritiya, Raas Yatra, Guru Purnima, Annapurna Puja, Charak Puja, Gajan (festival), Gajan, Buddha Purnima, Christmas, Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha and Muharram. Rabindra Jayanti, Kolkata Book Fair, Kolkata Film Festival, and Nazrul Jayanti. All are important cultural events. Eid al-Fitr is the most important Muslim festival in West Bengal. They celebrate the end of Ramadan with prayers, alms-giving, shopping, gift-giving, and feasting. Christmas, called ''Bôŗodin'' (Great day) is perhaps the next major festival celebrated in Kolkata, after Durga Puja. Just like Durga Puja, Christmas in Kolkata is an occasion when all communities and people of every religion take part. The state tourism department organises a gala Christmas Festival every year in Park Street, Kolkata, Park Street. The whole of Park Street is hung with colourful lights, and food stalls sell cakes, chocolates, Chinese cuisine, momo, and various other items. The state invites musical groups from Darjeeling and other North East India states to perform choir recitals, carols, and jazz numbers. Vesak, Buddha Purnima, which marks the birth of Gautama Buddha, is one of the most important Hindu/Buddhist festivals and is celebrated with much gusto in the Darjeeling hills. On this day, processions begin at the various Buddhist monasteries, or ''gumpas'', and congregate at the Chowrasta (Darjeeling) Mall. The Lamas chant mantras and sound their bugles, and students, as well as people from every community, carry the holy books or ''pustaks'' on their heads. Besides Buddha Purnima, Dashain, or Dusshera, Holi, Diwali, Losar, Namsoong or the Lepcha New Year, and Losoong are the other major festivals of the Darjeeling Himalayan region. Poush Mela is a popular winter festival of Shantiniketan, with performances of folk music, Baul songs, dance, and theatre taking place throughout the town. Ganga Sagar Mela coincides with the Makar Sankranti, and hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims converge where the river Ganges meets the sea to bathe enmasse during this fervent festival.


University of Calcutta 7383.JPG, University of Calcutta, the oldest public university of India. West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata (front entrance, 2006).jpg, The front entrance to the academic block of NUJS, Kolkata. RKMVERI Prajna Bhavan HR.jpg, Prajna Bhavan, housing the School of Mathematical Sciences and School of RKMVU. West Bengal schools are run by the state government or private organisations, including religious institutions. Instruction is mainly in English or Bengali, though Urdu is also used, especially in Central Kolkata. Secondary schools are affiliated with the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), the Central Board of Secondary Education, Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), the National Institute of Open Schooling, National Institute of Open School (NIOS), West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, or the West Bengal Board of Madrasah Education. As of 2016 85% of children within the 6 to 17-year age group attend school (86% do so in urban areas and 84% in rural areas). School attendance is almost universal among the 6 to 14-year age group then drops to 70% with the 15 to 17-year age group. There is a gender disparity in school attendance in the 6 to 14-year age group, more girls than boys are attending school. In Bengal, 71% of women aged 15–49 years and 81% of men aged 15–49 years are literate. Only 14% of women aged 15–49 years in West Bengal have completed 12 or more years of schooling, compared with 22% of men. 22% of women and 14% of men age 15–49 years have never attended school. Some of the notable schools in the city are: Ramakrishna Mission Narendrapur, Baranagore Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama High School, Baranagore Ramakrishna Mission, Sister Nivedita Girls' School, Hindu School, Hare School, La Martiniere Calcutta, Calcutta Boys' School, St. James' School (Kolkata), South Point School, St. Xavier's Collegiate School, and Loreto House, Loreto Convent, Asansol, Loreto Convent, Pearl Rosary School - Serampore are some of which rank amongst the best schools in the country. Many of the schools in Kolkata and Darjeeling are colonial-era establishments housed in buildings that are exemplars of neo-classical architecture. Darjeeling's schools include: St. Paul's School, Darjeeling, St. Paul's, St. Joseph's School, Darjeeling, St. Joseph's North Point, Goethals Memorial School, and Dow Hill in Kurseong. West Bengal has eighteen universities. Kolkata has played a pioneering role in the development of the modern education system in India. It was the gateway to the revolution of European education during the British Raj. Sir William Jones (philologist), William Jones established the Asiatic Society in 1794 to promote oriental studies. People such as Ram Mohan Roy, David Hare (philanthropist), David Hare, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Alexander Duff (missionary), Alexander Duff and William Carey (missionary), William Carey played leading roles in setting up modern schools and colleges in the city. The University of Calcutta, the oldest and one of the most prestigious public universities in India, has 136 affiliated colleges. Fort William College was established in 1810. The Hindu College was established in 1817. The Lady Brabourne College was established in 1939. The Scottish Church College, the oldest Christian liberal arts college in South Asia, started in 1830. The Vidyasagar College was established in 1872 and was the first purely Indian-run private college in
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest ...

. In 1855 the Hindu College was renamed the Presidency College. The state government granted it university status in 2010 and it was renamed Presidency University, Kolkata, Presidency University. Kazi Nazrul University was established in 2012. The University of Calcutta and Jadavpur University are prestigious technical universities. Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan is a central university and an institution of national importance. Other higher education institutes of importance in West Bengal include: St. Xavier's College, Kolkata, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (the first Indian Institutes of Management, IIM), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, Indian Statistical Institute, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (the first Indian Institutes of Technology, IIT), Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur (the first Indian Institutes of Engineering Science and Technology, IIEST), Indian Institute of Information Technology, Kalyani, National Institute of Technology, Durgapur, National Institute of Technical Teachers' Training and Research, Kolkata, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Kolkata, and West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. In 2003 the state government supported the creation of West Bengal University of Technology, West Bengal University of Health Sciences, West Bengal State University, and Gour Banga University. Jadavpur University (Focus area—Mobile Computing and Communication and Nano-science), and the University of Calcutta (Modern Biology) are among two of the fifteen universities selected under the "University with Potential for Excellence" scheme. University of Calcutta (Focus Area—Electro-Physiological and Neuro-imaging studies including mathematical modelling) has also been selected under the "Centre with Potential for Excellence in a Particular Area" scheme. In addition, the state is home to Kalyani University, The University of Burdwan, Vidyasagar University, and North Bengal University all well as established and nationally renowned schools to cover education needs at the district level and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata. Apart from this there is a Deemed university run by the Ramakrishna mission named Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University at Belur Math. There are several research institutes in Kolkata. The Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science is the first research institute in Asia. C. V. Raman was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery (Raman Effect) done at the IACS. The Bose Institute, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, S. N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute, Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute Durgapur, Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibers, National Institute of Research on Jute and Allied Fibre Technology, Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani, and the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre are the most prominent. Notable scholars who were born, worked, or studied in the geographic area of the state include physicists: Satyendra Nath Bose, Meghnad Saha, and Jagadish Chandra Bose; chemist Prafulla Chandra Roy; statisticians Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis and Anil Kumar Gain; physician Upendranath Brahmachari; educator Ashutosh Mukherjee; and Nobel laureates Rabindranath Tagore, C. V. Raman, Amartya Sen, and Abhijit Banerjee


In 2005 West Bengal had 505 published newspapers, of which 389 were in Bengali. ''Ananda Bazar Patrika'', published in Kolkata with 1,277,801 daily copies, has the largest circulation for a single-edition, regional language newspaper in India. Other major Bengali newspapers are: ''Bartaman'', ''Sangbad Pratidin'', ''Aajkaal'', ''Jago Bangla'', ''Uttarbanga Sambad'' and ''Ganashakti''. Major English language newspapers include ''The Telegraph (Kolkata), The Telegraph'', ''The Times of India'', ''Hindustan Times'', ''The Hindu'', ''The Statesman (India), The Statesman'', ''The Indian Express'' and ''Asian Age''. Some prominent financial dailies such as: ''The Economic Times'', ''The Financial Express (India), Financial Express'', ''Business Line'' and ''Business Standard'' are widely circulated. Vernacular newspapers such as those in Hindi, Nepali, Gujarati language, Gujarati, Odia, Urdu and Punjabi also exist. DD Bangla is the state-owned television broadcaster. Multi system operators provide a mix of Bengali, Nepali, Hindi, English and international channels via Cable television, cable. :24-hour television news channels, Bengali 24-hour television news channels include ABP Ananda, News18 Bangla, Republic Bangla, Kolkata TV, News Time, Zee 24 Ghanta, TV9 Bangla, CTVN Plus and Channel 10 (India), Channel 10. All India Radio is a public radio station. Private frequency modulation, FM stations are available only in cities like Kolkata, Siliguri, and Asansol. Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, Airtel, BSNL, Jio are available cell phone, cellular phone providers. Broadband Internet is available in select towns and cities and is provided by the state-run BSNL and by other private companies. Dial-up access is provided throughout the state by BSNL and other providers.


Cricket and association football are popular. West Bengal, unlike most other states of India, is noted for its passion and patronage of football. Kolkata is one of the major centres for football in India and houses top national clubs such as Mohun Bagan Athletic Club, East Bengal Club and Mohammedan Sporting Club (Kolkata), Mohammedan Sporting Club. West Bengal has several large stadiums. Eden Gardens was one of only two 100,000-seat cricket stadiums in the world; renovations before the 2011 Cricket World Cup reduced the capacity to 66,000. The stadium is the home to various cricket teams such as the Kolkata Knight Riders, the Bengal cricket team and the East Zone cricket team, East Zone. The 1987 Cricket World Cup final was hosted in Eden Gardens. The Calcutta Cricket and Football Club is the second-oldest cricket club in the world. Salt Lake Stadium, Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK), is a multipurpose stadium in Kolkata, with a current capacity of 85,000. It is the largest stadium in India by seating capacity. Before its renovation in 2011, it was the second largest football stadium in the world, having a seating capacity of 120,000. It has hosted many national and international sporting events like the South Asian Federation Games, SAF Games of 1987 and the 2011 FIFA friendly football match between Argentina and Venezuela featuring Lionel Messi. In 2008 legendary German goalkeeper, Oliver Kahn played his farewell match on this ground. The stadium hosted the final match of the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Notable sports persons from West Bengal include former Indian national cricket captains, Indian national cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly, Pankaj Roy, Olympic tennis bronze medallist Leander Paes and chess International Grandmaster, grand master Dibyendu Barua.

See also

* Bangal * Bengali Language Movement * Ghoti people * List of colleges and universities in West Bengal * List of people from West Bengal * Outline of West Bengal * Tourist attractions in West Bengal




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Richard Maxwell Eaton, The rise of Islam and the Bengal frontier, 1204–1760, 1993, University of California Press, California, California,1993, . * Ross Mallick. (1955). Development Policy of a Communist Government: West Bengal Since 1977, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (Reprinted 2008) . * * * Government of West Bengal, Law Department, Lagislative Notification. No. 182- L – 24 January 2013. West Bengal Act XXXVI of 2012. The West Bengal Official Language (Second Amendment) Act, 2012. * * * * * * * * * * *

External links

West Bengal Tourism
* * {{Authority control West Bengal, 1947 establishments in India Bay of Bengal Bengal Bengali-speaking countries and territories English-speaking countries and territories States and territories established in 1947 States and union territories of India