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Strolling through the lanes and alleys of Kolkata, one encounters the rich history and traditions this city carefully preserves. With Poila Baisakh, the Bengali New Year, just around the corner, Kolkata also embraces another traditional New Year celebration during the months of January and February: the Chinese New Year. Unlike fixed-date celebrations, the Chinese New Year is determined by lunar phases, bestowing upon it a majestic unpredictability. This year, the festivities fall on February 10, heralding the Year of the Dragon.
In 1778, Tong Atchew (or Achew), India’s first Chinese immigrant, settled in Calcutta, establishing a sugar mill near what we know as Achipur. While many of the Chinese settlers have since migrated, Tiretta Bazaar (the old Chinatown) and Tangra (the new Chinatown) remain vibrant hubs of the community. Despite a significant Chinese population in Kolkata a decade ago, the younger generations have increasingly pursued opportunities abroad, leading to a gradual decline in numbers.
Nevertheless, during the Chinese New Year, the community comes alive with families and relatives returning to their roots. Festivities in Kolkata are characterized by vibrant parades and dragon dances, in which both Chinese and non-Chinese locals enthusiastically participate. The dragon dance, believed to bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits, is a highlight of the celebrations.
No Chinese New Year celebration in Kolkata would be complete without savoring authentic Chinese cuisine. Whether in Tiretta Bazaar or Tangra, visiting Chinese temples and indulging in delectable delicacies are essential experiences. Embrace the timeless charm and cultural diversity that Kolkata proudly exhibits and preserves during this festive occasion.