West Bengal, home to legendary preachers, poets, saints, singers, film-makers, sportsmen and academicians, was once the cultural capital of India. Political ideology slowly wove its web in the heart of the easily swayed Bengali and everything else took a backseat. Growth was replaced by grafitti and songs by slogans! Years of rallies, 'bandhs' and 'hartals' have taken their toll - Kolkata, the capital city, is now a shade of its former arrogant, proud and elegant self.
The state still holds the soul of the ‘Bhadralok’, the intelligent, sensitive and cultured Bengali who has a passion for philosophy, literature, music, football and/or cricket depending on the season. The people of Bengal love their heroes...Sri Aurobindo and Sri Ramakrishna; Rabindra Nath Tagore, Mother Teresa and Amartya Sen; tennis’ Leander Paes, and cricketer Saurav Ganguly, nicknamed "the Prince of Kolkata" for his sterling performances on the field! Satyajit Ray, the film maker, have become synonymous with Bengal. The people are also great travellers. Go anywhere in the world, be it off-season in Leh or Christmas in Montreal - there are bound to be Bengalis around. The social fabric is hierarchical and patriarchy is still the focal point of general family life.