Arts and Crafts of Bangladesh
Fine Arts of Bangladesh
Handicrafts of Bangladesh
Nakshi Katha (embroidered quilt) is said to be indigenous to Bangladesh. Handicrafts and cottages industries play a vital role in sustaining the cultural heritage of Bangladesh. The prominent handicrafts in the early and Middle Ages were textiles, metal works, jewelry, wood works, cane and bamboo works, and clay and pottery. Later, jute and leather became the major raw materials for handicrafts. The most predominant features of Bangladeshi handicrafts are the extensive use of individual skill and the interesting design motifs. Nakshi Katha (embroidered quilt), a very popular form of handicraft, is said to be indigenous to Bangladesh. The rural women of the country put together pieces of old cloth with crafty stiches to prepare these quilts to be used in the winter. Although Katha (quilts) are utilitarian objects, the vivid patterns, borders and motifs often turn them into attractive works of art. In recent years the interest in ethnic arts and crafts has encouraged a Katha revival in the country. Many people now use these quilts for decorative purposes only. Several, Bangladeshi organizations like Aarong and Probortona export handicrafts from Bangladesh to all over the world. These organizations have played an important role in preserving the handicrafts of Bangladesh and increasing their popularity at home and abroad.
Festivals and Celebrations
As the most important religious festival for the majority Muslims, the celebration of Eid Ul-Fitr has become a part of the culture of Bangladesh. The Government of Bangladesh declares holiday for three days on Eid-Ul- Fitar. People living in towns having their families or parents in villages go to their country homes to meet relatives and celebrate the festival together. All outgoing public transport from the major cities becomes highly crowded and in many cases the fares tend to rise in spite of government restrictions. Adult Muslim males in Bangladesh assemble at the Eid Ghah for prayer in the morning of the Eid day.
On Eid day, Eid prayers are held all over the country, in open areas like fields or else inside mosques. In Dhaka, the largest Eid prayer is held at the national Eidgah. All major mosques including the Baitul Mukarram also holds prayers. The biggest congregation of Bangladesh is held at Sholakia in Kishoreganj, where about half a million people join the Eid prayer.After the Eid prayers people return home, visit each other's home and eat sweet dishes called Firni. Throughout the day gentlemen embrace each other. It is also customary for junior members of the society to touch the feet of the seniors, and seniors returning blessings (sometimes with a small sum of money as a gift).
In the rural areas Eid festival is observed with great fanfare. In some areas Eid fares are arranged. Different types of games including boat race, kabbadi, and other traditional Bangladeshi games as well as modern games like football and cricket are played on this occasion. In urban areas people play music, visit each other's houses and eat special food. Watching movies and television programs has also become an integral part of Eid celebration in urban areas. All local TV channels air special program for several days for this occasion.
The celebration of Eid ul-Adha is similar to Eid ul-Fitar in many ways. The only big difference is the Qurbani or sacrifice of domestic animals on Eid ul-Adha. Numerous temporary marketplaces of different sizes called Haat operate in the big cities for sale of Qurbani animals (usually cows and goats). In the morning on the Eid day, immediately after the prayer, capable people arrange to slaughter their animal of choice. Less affluent people also take part in the festivity by visiting houses of the affluent who are taking part in qurbani. After the qurbani a large portion of the meat is given to the poor people. Although the religious doctrine allows the sacrifice anytime over a period of three days starting from the Eid day, most people prefer to perform the ritual on the very Eid day. However, the public holiday spans over three to four days. Many people from the big cities go to their ancestral houses in the villages to share the joy of the festival with friends and relatives.
Welcome Bengali new year
"Esho, Esho, Esho Hey Baishakh;Taposoniswasbaye Mumurshure Dao Uraye, Botsorer Aborjona Dur Hoye Jak,".Thus Rabindranath Tagore welcomes Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bengali year, which is today. From today Bengali year 1415 will start. (New Nation BD)
Pohela Boishakh (spring) is the first day of the Bangla Calendar. Pohela Boishakh marked the start day of the crop season. Usually on Pohela Boishakh, the home is thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned; people bathe early in the morning and dress in fine and bright clothes. They spend much of the day visiting relatives, friends, and neighbours and going to fair. Fairs are arranged in many parts of the country. Various agricultural products, traditional handicrafts, toys, cosmetics, as well as various kinds of food and sweets are sold at these fairs. The fairs also provide entertainment, with singers, dancers and traditional plays and songs. Horseraces, bullraces, bullfights, cockfights, flying pigeons, boat racing were once popular.
The most colourful celebration of the Bengali New Year begins at the Ramna Batamul at dawn with an elaborate programme undertaken by Chhayanaut. Artistes from Chhayanaut will welcome the day with Rabindranath Tagore's famous song 'Esho Hey Baishakh, Esho, Esho,' under the banyan tree at the Ramna Park.
Men, wearing panjabi-payjama, women, attired in sari with red borders, and children in colourful dresses all will throng traditional Baishakhi Melas, fairs, and other cultural functions in the city and elsewhere in the country.
People will partake of 'Panta Bhat' (watered rice) with fried hilsha, lentils, green chilli and onions at home, restaurants and fairs following the rich tradition of Bengali culture. Pohela Boishakh is not only celebrated in Bangladesh in a festivity but also in West Bengal of India. This is the main festival for Bengalis and it is the only festival, which transcends religious barrier. In Bangladesh Pohela Boishakh is a national holiday. The Bengalis at home and abroad celebrate Pohela Boishakh today amid funfair, festivity and gaiety to hail the Bengali New Year with a renewed hope for a better future. Traders and shopkeepers open 'Halkhata' new books of account, and entertain customers and visitors with sweets on the first day of the New Year as part of the tradition. In Dhaka city, 6,094 law-enforcers will be on the alert to fend off any unpleasant incident at venues of celebrations.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) declared off-limit to all vehicles roads stretching from Matshya Bhaban to Shahbagh and Doyel Chattar to TSC of the Dhaka University. A total of 24 CCTV cameras would be set up across the capital. Members of the law-enforcement agencies will distribute drinking water among people at Ramna Park during the programme and Fire Brigade and ambulance will also be in place. Security measures would also be taken at the cinema halls and diplomatic zone. Different socio-cultural organizations have chalked out elaborate programmes to celebrate the day. Bangla Academy and Nazrul Institute organize separate programmes to welcome the Bengali New Year. The Liberation War Museum will stage various programmes that include dance, 'puthi-path' and folk songs at 10:00am on the day. Though the observance of Pohela Boishakh has become popular in the urban areas, but New Year's festivities are closely linked with rural life in Bengal. Usually on the day everything is scrubbed and cleaned. People bathe early in the morning and dress in fine clothes and then go to visit relatives, friends and neighbors. Special foods are prepared to entertain guests. Baishakhi fairs are arranged in many parts of the country. Various agricultural products, traditional handicrafts, toys, cosmetics as well as various kinds of food and sweets are sold at these fairs. The fairs also provide entertainment, with singers and dancers staging Jatra, Palagan, Kavigan, Jarigan, Gambhiragan, Gazirgan and Alkaap gan. They present folk songs as well as Baul, Marfati, Murshidi, and Bhatiali songs. Narrative plays like Laily-Majnu, Yusuf-Zulekha and Radha-Krishna are staged. Among other attractions of these fairs are puppet shows and merry-go-rounds for children.
Akbar the Great introduced the system of celebrating 'Noboborsho' or Pohela Boishakh, 1st of Boishakh, in the then Bengal. The historical importance of Pahela Baishakh in the Bangladesh context may be dated from the observance of the day by Chhayanaut, a cultural troupe, in 1965. In an attempt to suppress Bengali culture, the Pakistan Government had banned Tagore songs. Protesting against this move, Chhayanaut opened their Pahela Baishakh celebrations at Ramna Park with Tagore's song welcoming the month. The day continued to be celebrated in East Pakistan as a symbol of Bengali culture. After 1972 it became a national festival, a symbol of the Bangladesh nationalist movement and an integral part of the people's cultural heritage.
Bangladesh has a rich literary heritage. The earliest avail specimen of Bengali literature is about a thousand years old. During the mediaeval period Bengali Literature developed considerably with the patronage of Muslim rulers. Chandi Das, Daulat Kazi and Alaol are some of the famous poets of the period. The era of modern Bengali Literature began in the late nineteenth century Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Laureate is a vital part of Bengali culture. Kazi Nazrul Islam, Michael Madhusudan Datta. Sharat Chandra Chattopadhaya, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhaya, Mir Mosharraf Hossain and Kazi Abdul Wadud are the pioneers of modern Bengali Literature.
Language Movement Day
Shaheed Minar, or the Martyr's monument, located in the Dhaka University. Language Movement Day is a unique part of the culture of Bangladesh. Every year on February 21 this day is observed to pay tribute to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives to establish Bengali as the official language of then East Pakistan in 1952. The mood of the day is sad and humble.
The celebration of Language movement day goes on the entire month of February. Ekushey Book Fair is a book fair arranged to mark this occasion every year. The fair has also become an integral part of the culture of Bangladesh. Authors and readers in Bangladesh eagerly await the fair each year.
To commemorate this movement, Shaheed Minar, a solemn and symbolic sculpture, was erected in the place of the massacre. Today the Shaheed Minar is the centre of cultural activities in Dhaka. On the morning of February 21 each year, people from all walks of life including the national leaders pay tribute to the martyrs by leaving flowers at Shaheed Minar. A very melodious and melancholy song, Amar Bhaier Rokte Rangano, written by Abdul Gaffar Choudhury and composed by Altaf Mahmud, is played repeatedly in electronic media and cultural gatherings throughout the month, and especially on February 21. This song, too, has become a symbolic mark of culture of Bangladesh.
A traditional wedding is arranged by Ghotok's (matchmakers), who are typically friends or relatives of the couple. The matchmakers facilitate the introduction, and also help agree the amount of any settlement.
Bengali weddings are traditionally in four parts: the bride's Gaye Holud, the groom's Gaye Holud, the Beeya and the Bou Bhaat. These often take place on separate days. The first event in a wedding is an informal one: the groom presents the bride with a ring marking the "Engagement" which is getting popularity. Bride's friends and family apply turmeric paste to her body as a part of Gaye Holud ceremony.
For the bride's Gaye Holud, the groom's family - except the groom himself - goes in procession to the bride's home. The procession traditionally centers on the (younger) female relative and friends of bride, and they are traditionally all in matching clothes, mostly orange in colour. The bride is seated on a dais, and the henna is used to decorate the bride's hands and feet with elaborate abstract designs. The sweets are then fed to the bride by all involved, piece by piece.
Bride and groom in a Bengali wedding ceremony
The actual wedding ceremony "Beeye" follows the Gaye Holud ceremonies. The wedding ceremony is arranged by the bride's family. On the day, the younger members of the bride's family barricade the entrance to the venue, and demands sort of admission charge from the groom in return for allowing him to enter. The bride and groom are seated separately, and a Kazi (authorized person by the govt. to perform the wedding), accompanied by the parents and a Wakil (witness) from each side formally asks the bride for her consent to the union, and then the groom for his. Bride side of the family tries to play some kind of practical joke on the groom such as stealing the groom's shoe.
The reception, also known as Bou-Bhaat (reception), is a party given by the groom's family in return for the wedding party. It is typically a much more relaxed affair, with only the second-best wedding outfit being worn.
Most popular sports in Bangladesh arefootball (soccer), cricket and kabaddi. Kabaddi is the national sport of Bangladesh. Cricket is a game which has a massive and passionate following in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has now joined the elite group of countries eligible to play Test cricket. The Bangladesh national cricket team goes by the nick-name of the Tigers—after the Royal Bengal Tiger.
The people of Bangladesh enjoy watching live sports. Whenever there is a cricket or football match between popular local teams or international teams in any local stadium significant number of spectators gather to watch the match live. The people also celebrate major vistories of the national team with a great enthusiasm for the live game. Victory processions are the most common element in such celebrations. Ex Prime Minister even made an appearance after an international test cricket match in which Bangladesh beat Australia, she came to congratulate the victory. Also in late 2006/ early 2007, football legend Zinedine Zidane paid a visit to local teams and various events thanks to the invite of Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus.
Kabadi is the national game of Bangladesh. It is played by two teams of 12 players each on a 12.50 metre by 10 metre rectangular court in which a player, while holding his breath, dashes into the opponent team's area, touches some player(s) and/or wrestles out to come back home safely without releasing his breath and thereby scores point for his team. If you think that is impossible or its just too complicated for you to visualise, you should be at Burwood Girls High School premises, Burwood, NSW on the 10th of April at 3:30 pm when a Kabadi match is going to be played .
Please be there to leran a bit more about the game and have some extreme fun.
Religion in Bangladesh
Khan Mohammad Mirdha's mosque (built 1706) at Atish Khana, in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. Bangladesh is ethnically homogeneous, with Bengalis comprising 98% of the population. The majority of Bangladeshis (about 88%) are Muslims, and a small number of Hindus, Buddhists and Christians are also in the country. People of different religions perform there religious rituals with festivity in Bangladesh. The Government has declared National Holidays on all important religious festivals of the four major religions. Durga Puja, Buddha Purnima and Christmas are celebrated with enthusiasm in Bangladesh. All of these form an integral part of the cultural heritage of Bangladesh.
Life-style in Bangladesh
Panta Hilsha - a tradtional platter of Panta Bhat with fried Hilsha slice, supplemented with dried fish (Shutki), pickles (Achar), dal, green chillies and onion - is a popular serving for the Pohela Boishakh festival.
Bangladesh is famous for its distinctive culinary tradition, and delicious food, snacks and savories. Boiled rice constitutes the staple food, and is served with a variety of vegetables, fried as well as curries, thick lentil soups, and fish and meat preparations of beef, mutton and chicken.Sweetmeats of Bangladesh are mostly milk based, and consist of several delights including Roshgulla, Sandesh, Rasamalai, Gulap Jamun, Kalo Jamun, Chom Chom. Several other sweet preparations are also available. Bengali cuisine is rich and varied with the use of many specialized spices and flavours. Fish is the dominant source of protein, cultivated in ponds and fished with nets in the fresh-water rivers of the Ganges delta. More than forty types of mostly freshwater fish are common, including carp varieties like rui (rohu), katla, magur (catfish), chingŗi (prawn or shrimp), as well as shuţki (dried sea fish). Salt water fish (not sea fish though) Hilsha is very popular among Bengalis, can be called an icon of Bengali cuisine.
Portion of a sari woven at Sonargaon. Bangladeshi people have unique dress preferences. Bangladeshi men wear Panjabi on religious and cultural occasions, Lungi as casual wear and Shirt-Pant on formal occasions. Sari is the main dress of Bangladeshi women. Sari weaving is a traditional art in Bangladesh. Salwar kameez is also very popular especially among the younger ladies. Western dresses of women are becoming increasingly popular in the cities.
In the cultural presentation, a few Bangladesh's famous singers and dancers are going to entertain audience with their performance representing Bangladeshi music and dance. They are Zeenat Barkatullah, Shah Rima Bari and others in dance and Farida Pervin - the unique renderer of folk Lalan songs and the couple Abida Sultana - Rafiqul Alam in music.
The fashion show is probably going to be one of the must-see events of the festival. Aimed to promote the vernacular textile scene in addition to the well-established ready-to-wear RMG sector of Bangladesh, it is going to bear the magical touch of Bibi Russell, the internationally acclaimed, UNESCO Special Envoy, model-turned-designer who now devotes most of her time promoting the traditional loom-based weavers of Bangladesh. The weavers of Bangladesh, on the other hand, have been world famous for centuries with their extraordinary fabrics and designs like Moslin, Jamdani, Khadi, Endi and cotton fabrics.
Bibi Russell is probably the most well known face of Bangladesh in the international haute-couture fashion scene. After working with leading fashion houses like Emporio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Kenzo, Karl Lagerfield and Giorgio Armani, the 5'10" model came back to Bangladesh in 1994 and started working with indigenous weavers as a designer. Today, she has about 35,000 weavers all over Bangladesh working for her. Her company, Bibi Productions, produces everything hand-made, from a range of apparel to shoes, buttons, jewellery and even home furnishings.
Since 1999, Russell is also acting as the UNESCO Special Envoy: Designer for Development and was selected by Asiaweek as "one of the 20 people to watch in the millennium". More on Bibi Russell on the Daily Star
March 26 is the day of Independence of Bangladesh. It is the biggest state festival. This day is most befittingly observed and the capital wears a festive look. It is a public holiday. The citizens of Dhaka wake up early in the morning with the booming of guns heralding the day. Citizens including government leaders and sociopolitical organizations and freedom fighters place floral wreaths at the National Martyrs Monument at Savar. Bangla Academy, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and other socio-cultural organizations hold cultural functions. At night the main public buildings are tastefully illuminated to give the capital city a dazzling look. Similar functions are arranged in other parts of the country.
21st Feb, the National Mourning Day and World Mother Language Day
21 February is observed throughout the country to pay respect and homage to the sacred souls of the martyrs' of Language Movement of 1952. Blood was shed on this day at the Central Shahid Minar (Dhaka university) area to establish Bangla as a state language of the then Pakistan. All subsequent movements including struggle for independence owe their origin to the historic language movement. The Shahid Minar (martyrs monument) is the symbol of sacrifice for Bangla, the mother tongue. The day is closed holiday. Mourning procedure begin in Dhaka at midnight with the song Amar vaier raktay rangano ekushay February (21st February, the day stained with my brothers' blood). Nationals pay homage to the martyrs by placing flora wreaths at the Shahid Minar. Very recently the day has been declared World Mother Language Day by UNESCO.
Eid-e-Miladunnabi is the birth and death day of Prophet Muhammad (s). He was born and died the same day on 12th Rabiul Awal (Lunar Month). The day is national holiday, national flag is flown atop public and private houses and special food is served in orphanages, hospitals and jails. At night important public buildings are illuminated and milad mahfils are held.
Muharram procession is a ceremonial mournful procession of Muslim community. A large procession is brought out from the Hussaini Dalan Imambara on 10th Muharram in memory of the tragic martyrdom of Imam Hussain (RA) on this day at Karbala in Iraq. Same observations are made elsewhere in the country.
Durga Puja, the biggest festival of the Hindu community continues for ten days, the last three days being culmination with the idol immersed in rivers. In Dhaka the big celebrations are held at Dhakeswari Temple, where a fair is also held and at the Ram Krishna Mission.
Christmas, popularly called "Bara Din (Big Day)", is celebrated with pomp in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country. Several day-long large gatherings are held at St. Mary's Cathedral at Ramna, Portuguese Church at Tejgaon, Church of Bangladesh (Protestant) on Johnson Road and Bangladesh Baptist Sangha at Sadarghat Dhaka. Functions include illumination of churches, decorating Christmas tree and other Christian festivities.
Rabindra & Nazrul Jayanti
Birth anniversary of the noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore on 25th Baishakh (May) and that of the National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam on 11th Jaystha (May) are observed throughout the country. Their death anniversaries are also marked in the same way. Big gatherings and song sessions organized by socio-cultural organizations are salient features of the observance of the days. Tagore is the writer of our national anthem while National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam is famous as Rebel Poet.
At a place near Sonargaon (about 27 km. from Dhaka) a very attractive festival observed by the Hindu Community every year on the last day of Chaittra (last Bengali month) - mid April, when the devotees take religious bath in the river. There are various other festivals that are habitually observed by Bengalis all the year round
The traditional music in Bangladesh shares the perspectives of that of the Indian sub-continent. Music in Bangladesh can be divided into three distinct categories -classical, folk and modern. The classical music, both vocal and instrumental is rooted in the remote past of the sub-continent. Ustad Alauddin Khan and Ustad Ayet Ali Khan are two names in classical instrumental music who are internationally known. The store of folk song abounds in spiritual lyrics of Lalan Shah, Hasan Raja, Romesh Shill and many anonymous lyricists. Bangla music arena is enriched with Jari, Shari, Bhatiali, Murshidi and other types of folk songs. Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Sangeet are Bangalees' precious heritage. Modern music is also practiced widely. Contemporary patterns have more inclinations to west. Pop song and band groups are also coming up mainly in Dhaka City.
Bangladesh has a good number of musical instruments originally of her own. Originally country musical instruments include, Banshi (bamboo flute), Dhole (wooden drums), Ektara (a single stringed instrument), Dotara (a four stringed instrument), Mandira (a pair of metal bawls used as rhythm instrument), Khanjani, Sharinda etc. Now-a-days western instruments such as Guitar, Drums, Saxophone, Synthesizer etc. are being used alongside country instruments.
Drama in Bangladesh has an old tradition and is very popular. In Dhaka more than a dozen theater groups have been regularly staging locally written plays as well as those adopted from famous writers, mainly of European origin. Popular theatre groups are Dhaka Theatre, Nagarik Nattya Sampraday and Theatre. In Dhaka, Baily Road area is known as 'Natak Para' where drama shows are regularly held. Public Library Auditorium and Museum Auditorium are famous for holding cultural shows. Dhaka University area is a pivotal part of cultural activities.
Classical forms of the sub-continent predominate in Bangladeshi dance. The folk, tribal and Middle Eastern traits are also common. Among the tribal dances, particularly popular are Monipuri and Santal. Rural girls are in the habit of dancing that does not require any grammar or regulations. Bangla songs like jari and shari are presented accompanied with dance of both male and female performers.
There is a rich tradition of modern painting which was pioneered by Zainul Abedin, Kamrul Hassan, Anwarul Haque, Shafiuddin Ahmed and S. M. Sultan. Zainul Abedin earned international fame for his sketches on famine of 1943 in Bangladesh. Other famous artists of Bangladesh are Abdur Razzak, Qayyum Chowdhury, Murtaza Baseer, Aminul Islam, Debdas Chakraborty, Kazi Abdul Baset, Syed Jahangir, and Mohammad Kibria
Jatra(Folk Drama) is another vital chapter of Bangalee culture. It depicts mythological episodes of love and tragedy. Legendary plays of heroism are also popular, particularly in the rural areas. In near past jatra was the biggest entertainment means for the rural Bangalees and in that sense for 80% of the population since the same percentage of the population lived in rural Bangladesh. Now-a-days jatra has been placed in the back seat in the entertainment era. Gradually western culture is occupying the place of traditional culture like jatra.
Traditional Transportation Means
There are some transportation means that are parts of culture of Bangladesh. In rural areas bullock carts, buffalo carts and tomtoms (horse carts) are commonly used. In old Dhaka once tomtom was a common vehicle and still it is found, though rare. Bicycles are used both in rural and urban areas. Palki (a box-like vehicle carried on shoulders by six men) is a wedding transportation means. Brides are carried to the bridegrooms' places by Palki. Being a land crisscrossed by rivers, Bangladesh has a wide-ranged tradition of ferry transport. Wooden boat popularly called nawka is a vital means of rural communication. Rickshaw is a very common vehicle to Bangladeshis.
Bangladeshi women habitually wear Sarees. Jamdani was once world famous for it's most artistic and expensive ornamental fabric. Moslin, a fine and artistic type of cloth was well-known worldwide. Nakshi Katha, embroidered quilted patchwork cloth produced by the village women, is still familiar in villages and towns simultaneously. A common hairstyle is Beni (twisted bun) that Bangali women are fond of. Traditionally males wear Panjabis, Fatuas and Pajamas. Hindus wear Dhuty for religious purposes. Now-a-days common dresses of males are shirts and pants.
Government and non-government organizations like Bangla Academy, Nazrul Institute, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Fine arts Institute, Chhayanat etc. play significant role to flourish Bangladeshi art and culture providing encouragement in music, drama, dance, recitation, art etc. Many other cultural organizations are also popularizing Bangladeshi art and culture.