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Regular version of the site

Culture Café: Bangladesh

Do you know any exotic Asian countries? Their particular features and traditions? After attending our Culture Café you can name at least one like this - it’s outstanding and lively Bangladesh. Many thanks to our international HSE student Reza Habib for preparing an extraordinary program of virtual short journey to this sunny country.

 We started with the latest and at the same time horrible news - sorrowful tragedy happened on 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday. Powerful bombing attacks ripped through churches around Sri Lanka, leaving hundreds of victims killed and injured. This devastating assault took away lives of innocent people and made this day a real nightmare for those who lost their loved ones. We bring our condolences and wish to stay strong to get through this dreadful event.

We need to be aware of this terrible occurrence, but we also need to move further. The next stop was small talk about basic knowledge of Bangladesh location and its geography. It’s a South Asian country bordering with India and Myanmar. If weather of your hometown is pretty cold and its permanent changeability has made you jaded then we recommend you to visit Bangladesh in the period from October to March, as this time is characterized by  the supremacy of tropical climate. If you’re a rains lover then the whole spring and June is the best time for you to feel hot humid days. In addition, the largest mangrove forest is also situated there, so welcome those who love nature.

By exploring more and more we have found out some interesting demography facts about People’s Republic of Bangladesh - it’s an official name of the country. Believe it or not, but being not the biggest and even not so big country (area of 147, 570 square kilometers) Bangladesh is the most densely populated nonisland nation in the world and world’s eight most populous country! According to the World Bank (2017 data), 165 millions of people live there. They speak Bengali language and most of them are Bengalies - 98%, the rest 2% are minorities. Official religion in Bangladesh is Islam, but you can meet the representatives of Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity there too.

After geographical and demographical exploration we moved forward to a history aspect. One of the most important dates for Bangladesh - 3 June 1947 - Mountbatten Plan outlined the partition of British India. 1952 is sadly know for Bengali Language Movement. Now every year on 21 February people commemorate to those who were killed 67 years ago in the demonstration. This is a public holiday in Bangladesh, and it’s International Mother Language Day which was officially announced by UNESCO in 1999. Now, some significant facts about fight for the independence. In 1966, Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced a six point movement. 25 March, the Pakistani military junta launched Operation Searchlight.

Bengali nationalists declared independence and formed the Mukti Bahini (the Bangladeshi National Liberation Army). The country became Independent in 1971, 16 December.

Besides history, we’ve partly mentioned political and economic sides. Political life of Bangladesh includes 39 political parties, major of them are Bangladesh Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist party, Jatiya Party (National Party) and Jamat-ei-Islam Bangladesh. Economical sector is worldwide known for being one of the largest textile exporters in the world and largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping forces. It’s low middle income country, mostly specializes in textiles, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, steel, electronics, energy, construction materials, chemicals, ceramics, food processing and leather goods.

The dress preferences in Bangladesh are unique. Men casual wear in rural areas is the lungi with formal clothing being suits or shirts and trousers. On cultural and religious occasions, men have traditional wear called panjabi. Hindu religious people normally wear dhuti, brought to the culture from the ancient Hindu ruler era. For women, the traditional and main dress is the sari, with young females also wearing salwar kameez.

The most delicious part of our Culture Café - presentation of the traditional Bangladesh cuisine. Bangladesh’s cuisine is renowned for having a distinctive culinary tradition. The national staple food is rice served with various food items such as vegetables, fish, meat, eggs. Whether you’re not hungry enough to eat a nourishing dish, then you can have thick, spiced flat bread called bakar khani rotior try a lightly fried mixture of mashed vegetables which is known as a bhorta. The country has many sweet dishes including Bangladesh’s sweetmeats which are milk based. These delicacies include shondesh, rasmalai, Chom-Chom, rasgulla, and Kala jam. The primary source of protein in Bangladesh is a fish, with over 40 types of freshwater fish including katla, catfish called magur.

Next topic of our exciting journey is religious and national Bangladesh holidays and festivals. These events include Eid ul-Adha, Chand Raat, and Eid ul-Fitr from Islam as well as Janmashtami and Durga Puja from Hinduism. Other festivals in Bangladesh include the Christian Christmas and Buddha Purnima from the Buddhist religion. The people of Bangladesh also celebrate national holidays like Independence Day and Language Movement Day. Bengali marriage comes in the form of traditional weddings which follows Muslim procession and has matchmakers called Ghotoks involved in the arrangement. The other religions in Bangladesh have different wedding methods although they sometimes follow Bengali procession.

It was final stop in our imaginary trip to the magic country Bangladesh and we greatly thank everyone for joining us to discover new country together. Perceiving the world is one of the most breathtaking and captivating activity you can do. There always will be something new for you, we will be sincerely glad to explore more and more with you to make it as interesting and unforgettable as it possible. We can’t wait to see you again at our next Culture Café!

 Text:Svetlana Dzhafarova