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Tradition Culture of Bangladesh

Tradition & Culture

The culture of Bangladesh has a unique history, dating back more than 2500 years ago. The land, the rivers and the lives of the common people formed a rich heritage with marked differences from neighboring regions. It has evolved over the centuries, and encompasses the cultural diversity of several social groups of Bangladesh. The culture of Bangladesh is composite, and over centuries has assimilated influences of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Islam.
It is manifested in various forms, including music, dance and drama; art and craft; folklores and folktales; languages and literature, philosophy and religion, festivals and celebrations, as also in a distinct cuisine and culinary tradition.

Music, dance and drama

Music and dance style of Bangladesh may be divided into three categories, namely, the classical, folk and the modern.
The classical style has been influenced by other prevalent classical forms of music and dances of the Indian subcontinent, and accordingly show some influences dance forms like Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi. The folk and tribal music and dance forms of Bangladesh are of indigenous origin and rooted to the soil of Bangladesh. Several dancing styles, in vogue in the north-eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, like Monipuri and Santal dances, are also practiced in Bangladesh, but Bangladesh has developed its own distinct dancing styles.
Bangladesh has a rich tradition of folk songs, with lyrics rooted into vibrant tradition and spirituality, mysticism and devotion. Such folk songs also revolve round several other themes, including love themes.
Most prevalent of folk songs and music traditions include Bhatiali, Baul, Marfati, Murshidi and Bhawaiya. Lyricists like Lalon Shah, Hason Raja, Kangal Harinath, Romesh Shill, Abbasuddin and many unknown anonymous lyrists have enriched the tradition of folk songs of Bangladesh.
In relatively modern context, Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul geeti form precious cultural heritage of Bangladesh. In recent time, western influences have given rise to several pop song groups, particularly in urban centers like Dhaka.
Several musical instruments, some of them of indigenous origin, are used in Bangladesh, and major musical instruments used are bamboo flute (banshi), drums (dole), a single stringed instrument named ektara, a four stringed instruemment called dotara, a pair of metal bawls used for rhythm effect called mandira. Currently, several musical instruments of western origin like guitar, drums, and saxophone are also used, sometimes alongside the traditional instruments.
Drama remains popular in Bangladesh, including performances of plays by local playwrights, as well as adaptations from writers of Western origin. Jatra, that is, folk drama, is also a part of culture of Bangladesh. In Jatras, legendary plays of heroism, mythological stories, folktales of love and tragedy, and similar countless themes are enacted in open air theatre, and continue to be a popular form of entertainment, in spite of modern influences.

Traditional ceremonies

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.
In older times, the settlement was a dowry to be paid by the bride's family to the groom. However, in the last 30 to 40 years, dowry has been declared illegal, and it is discouraged. Even then, it persists, especially in rural areas. These days, the settlement is likely to take the form of a Mahr (see dowry) which is paid by the groom to the bride.
The amount of the settlement is set so as to avoid too many zeroes in the amount, such as 10001 rather than 10000; the final zeroes being said by some to signify bad luck.
Muslim weddings are traditionally in four parts: the bride's Gaye Holud, the groom's Gaye Holud, the Nika 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".

Gaye Holud

The Gaye Holud ("yellowing the body") is in preparation for the Nika.
For the bride's Gaye Holud, the groom's family - except the groom himself - go in procession to the bride's home. They carry with them the bride's wedding outfit, wedding decoration including turmeric paste and henna, sweetmeats and gifts. They also take a large fish cooked and decorated. The procession traditionally centers on the (younger) female relative and friends of bride, and they are traditionally all in matching clothes, mostly yellow, orange or red in colour.
The bride is seated on a dias, and the henna is used to decorate the bride's hands and feet with elaborate abstract designs. The turmeric paste is applied by the bride's friends to her body. This is said to soften the skin, but also colours her with the distinctive yellow hue that gives its name to this ceremony.
The sweets are then fed to the bride by all involved, piece by piece. There is, of course, a feast for the guests. The groom's Gaye Holud comes next, and has the same form as the bridal ceremony.


The actual wedding ceremony or Nika or "Biye" 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 money from the groom in return for allowing him to enter. There is typically much good-natured pushing and shoving involved. Another custom is for the bride's younger siblings, friends and cousins to steal the groom's shoes for ransom; to get them back the groom must usually pay off the children. The siblings, friends and cousins go out to eat with the bride and groom to spend the money on a later date.
The bride and groom are seated separately, and a priest, 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.
The actual formalizing of the wedding and the signing of paperworks is now done before the ceremony for convenience. Usually it is carried out on the morning of the wedding and the feast is at night.
At this time, the amount of the dowry is verified, and if all is well, the formal papers are signed, and the couple are seated side by side on a dias. The brides dupatta (headcovering) is draped over both, and a mirror placed in front. The groom is then supposed to say something romantic on what is notionally the first time he has laid eyes on his bride.
Everybody celebrates the union with a feast.
While seated on the dias, the bride's entourage will make attempts to steal the groom's shoes, which they will return for a ransom. Once the return of the shoes is negotiated, the bride takes tearful leave of her family. Finally, the happy couple make their way from the venue to the groom's home, where a bridal room has been prepared.

Bou Bhaat

The reception, also known as Bou-Bhaat ("bride rice"), 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.
It's a lot like the wedding, the bride and groom however receive and see off guests and dine together. After the party, the bride and groom go to the bride's family house for two nights. On the second day, the groom's family are invited to the bride's house for a meal, and they leave with the bride and groom. This meal is called “Firani”.


Bangladeshi hotels
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