Culture of Bangladesh
The Bengal region has a multifaceted folk heritage,
enriched by its ancient animist, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim roots. Weaving,
pottery and terracotta sculpture are some of the earliest forms of artistic
expression. The best known literature of Bangladesh is the work of the great
Bengali poets Rabindranath Tagore and Nasrul Islam. Folk theatre is common
at the village level and usually takes place during harvest time or at melas
(village fairs). There are many folk dances, but classical dance is largely
borrowed from Indian models and is frowned upon by the more severe religious
Bangladesh's Muslims and Hindus live in relative harmony. The Muslim
majority has religious leaders, pirs, whose status straddles the gap
between that of a bishop and that of a sage. Hinduism in Bangladesh culture lacks
the pomp and awe of the Indian version, but consequently Hindu ceremonies
are rarely conducted in the depths of temples to which access is restricted.
People here are very willing for you to watch and even participate.
Buddhists today form only a tiny minority of the population. It's worth
noting that the Bangladeshi pride in ancestry is balanced by the Islamic
slant of the country's intellectual life which tends to deny the
achievements of the preceding Hindu and Buddhist cultures.
Muslim festivals follow a lunar calendar. At the beginning of the year,
Ramadan is a month-long period of fasting in February/March. At the
full moon 14 days before the start of Ramadan, Shab-e-Barat is a
sacred night when alms and sweets are distributed to the poor. Hindu
festivals follow a different calendar but they generally fall at much the
same date each year. The Holi Festival or Festival of Colours,
commonly known as the spring festival, is celebrated in the first week of
March. Durga Puja is celebrated during October, and statues of the
goddess astride a lion, with her ten hands holding ten different weapons,
are placed in every Hindu temple.
A typical Bangladeshi meal consists of beef (or sometimes mutton, chicken,
fish or egg) and vegetables cooked in a hot spicy sauce, yellow watery
lentils (dal) and plain rice. Fish is part of the staple diet;
however, over-fishing has led to a scarcity of river fish and more sea fish
are appearing on menus. Alcoholic drinks are not widely available; head for
five-star hotels and ritzier restaurants when you want a tipple.
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