Culture of Bangladesh by umairsheikh2002

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Culture of Bangladesh

Submitted To:
Sir Fakhar-Ul-Huda

Submitted By: Student Card:

Muhammad Umair Sheikh

1. Definition of Culture 2. Characteristics of Culture  Society  Cultural Integration  Symbolism 3. Culture of Bangladesh  Culture Name  Alternative Name  Orientations  Identification  Location and Geography  Demography  Linguistic Affiliation  Symbolism 4. Music, Dance And Drama 5. Arts and Crafts of Bangladesh  Fine Arts of Bangladesh  Handicrafts of Bangladesh 6. Festivals and celebrations  Eid-ul-Fitr  Eid-ul-Adha  Pohela Baishakh  Language Movement Day  Weddings 7. Sports 8. Religion in Bangladesh  Islam in Bangladesh  Hinduism in Bangladesh  Buddhism in Bangladesh 9. Life-style in Bangladesh  Cuisine  Dress 10. Conclusion

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Definition of Culture
Culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning "to cultivate") is a term that has different meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. However, the word "culture" is most commonly used in three basic senses:    Excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group. When the concept first emerged in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, it connoted a process of cultivation or improvement, as in agriculture or horticulture. In the nineteenth century, it came to refer first to the betterment or refinement of the individual, especially through education, and then to the fulfillment of national aspirations or ideals. In the mid-nineteenth century, some scientists used the term "culture" to refer to a universal human capacity. In the twentieth century, "culture" emerged as a concept central to anthropology, encompassing all human phenomena that are not purely results of human genetics. Specifically, the term "culture" in American anthropology had two meanings: (1) The evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols, and to act imaginatively and creatively (2) The distinct ways that people living in different parts of the world classified and represented their experiences, and acted creatively. Following World War II, the term became important, albeit with different meanings, in other disciplines such as sociology, cultural studies, organizational psychology and management studies.


Characteristics of Culture
As one might expect, all cultures must share several characteristics if ―culture‖ is to be differentiated from other forms of behavior. These similarities between all cultures are surprisingly few. The ultimate goal of cultural anthropology is to determine which characteristics all cultures share in common.

Firstly, all culture must take place through a medium of a group of people, known as a society. Even extinct (e.g. Greek or Roman) or imagined (e.g. science-fiction novels) cultures have societies to transmit the culture (even if the societies, too, are dead or fictional). As culture cannot exist without a society, a human society cannot exist without culture. Other animals, such as bees or ants, congregate into societies, yet these animals do not exhibit culture. Yet no human society is without culture. The functionalist school of anthropological thought attempts to explain why culture is so vital to human societies.

Cultural Integration
It is vital to the study of cultural anthropology that the anthropologist takes cultural integration into account. All aspects of culture relate to one another, so an analysis of a culture must be done holistically. Changes to one seemingly unimportant part of a particular culture can reverberate throughout the entire culture and affect even the most unrelated aspects. It would be a difficult science if the anthropologist were to only examine the whole culture, however. In order to properly gain ample data, the anthropologist will typically divide the culture into arbitrary categories. For example, the anthropologist might study eating patterns, kinship, and warfare. However, the study is not finished after the data has been collected. The anthropologist then needs to describe how these ostensibly unrelated categories affect each other. Anthropology is thus a holistic science.


Humans are abstract creatures, and culture takes advantage of that. In this culture, for example, people work ferociously in order to gain small bits of green paper. While this paper has little practical value, the society attaches symbolic value to it to make it represent wealth. Likewise, people may hold positions of power and be called a ―boss,‖ ―chief,‖ or ―president.‖ In each of these cases, there is no significant physical difference between a ―boss‖ and a ―subordinate.‖ The title and position are symbols of one’s power over another. The symbol most fundamental to culture is that of language. Physically, language is just sound waves being created and modified in various ways by the mouth and throat. However, our minds and culture attaches meaning to particular sound waves so that humans can communicate much more sophisticatedly than animals. Indeed, the same is true for written language. To a Chinese speaker, these lines would have no meaning. However, English speakers are able to attach meaning to these lines so the concept of anthropology can be effectively transmitted. One will spend hours attempting to commit these lines to memory. Then, one can successfully take the IB examination, create more random lines and receive a number in exchange for the hours of work. Culture is fraught with symbolism.


Culture of Bangladesh
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.

Culture Name

Alternative Name

Identification. "Bangladesh" is a combination of the Bengali words, Bangla
and Desh, meaning the country or land where the Bangla language is spoken. The country formerly was known as East Pakistan.

Location and Geography. Bangladesh straddles the Bay of Bengal in south
Asia. To the west and north it is bounded by India; to the southeast, it borders Myanmar. The topography is predominantly a low-lying floodplain. About half the total area is actively deltaic and is prone to flooding in the monsoon season from May through September. The Ganges/Padma River flows into the country from the northwest, while the Brahmaputra/ Jamuna enters from the north. The capital city, Dhaka, is near the point where those river systems meet. The land is suitable for rice cultivation. In the north and the southeast the land is more hilly and dry, and tea is grown. The Chittagong Hill Tracts have extensive hardwood forests. The vast river delta area is home to the dominant plains culture. The hilly areas of the northeast and southeast are occupied by much smaller tribal groups, many of which have strongly resisted domination by the national government and the population pressure from Bangladeshis who move into and attempt to settle in their traditional areas. In 1998 an accord was reached between the armed tribal group Shanti Bahini and the government.

Demography. Bangladesh is the most densely populated nonisland nation in
the world. With approximately 125 million inhabitants living in an area of 55,813 square miles, there are about 2,240 persons per square mile. The majority of the population (98 percent) is Bengali, with 2 percent belonging to tribal or other non-Bengali groups. Approximately 83 percent of the population is Muslim, 16 percent is Hindu, and 1 percent is Buddhist, Christian, or other. Annual population growth rate is at about 2 percent. Infant mortality is approximately seventy-five per one thousand live births. Life expectancy for both men and women is fifty-eight years, yet the sex ratios for


cohorts above sixty years of age are skewed toward males. Girls between one and four years of age are almost twice as likely as boys to die. In the early 1980s the annual rate of population increase was above 2.5 percent, but in the late 1990s it decreased to 1.9 percent. The success of population control may be due to the demographic transition (decreasing birth and death rates), decreasing farm sizes, increasing urbanization, and national campaigns to control fertility (funded largely by other nations).

Linguistic Affiliation. The primary language is Bangla, called Bengali by
most nonnatives, an Indo-European language spoken not just by Bangladeshis, but also by people who are culturally Bengali. This includes about 300 million people from Bangladesh, West Bengal, and Bihar, as well as Bengali speakers in other Indian states. The language dates from well before the birth of Christ. Bangla varies by region, and people may not understand the language of a person from another district. However, differences in dialect consist primarily of slight differences in accent or pronunciation and minor grammatical usages. Language differences mirror social and religious divisions. Bangla is divided into two fairly distinct forms: sadhu basha, learned or formal language, and cholit basha, common language. Sadhu basha is the language of the literate tradition, formal essays and poetry, and the well educated. Cholit basha is the spoken vernacular, the language of the great majority of Bengalis. Cholit basha is the medium by which the great majority of people communicate in a country in which 50 percent of men and 26 percent of women are literate. There are also small usage variations between Muslims and Hindus, along with minor vocabulary differences.


Symbolism. The most important symbol of national identity is the Bangla
language. The flag is a dark green rectangle with a red circle just left of center. Green symbolizes the trees and fields of the countryside; red represents the rising sun and the blood spilled in the 1971 war for liberation. The national anthem was taken from a poem by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and links a love of the natural realm and land with the national identity. Since independence in 1971, the national identity has evolved. Islamic religious identity has become an increasingly important element in the national dialogue. Many Islamic holy days are nationally celebrated, and Islam pervades public space and the media.


Music, Dance and Drama

Bangladeshi artists performing in a dance show 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 shows 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, Abbas Uddin 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 quality rock bands, 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 instrument 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.


Arts and Crafts of Bangladesh
Fine Arts of Bangladesh
Several artists originated from Bangladesh have gained world-wide familiarity for their artistic contributions. The works of painters like Zainul Abedin, SM Sultan, Quamrul Hassan, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Ronobi and Hashem Khan symbolizes the culture of the country.

Handicrafts of Bangladesh

Nakshi Kantha (embroidered quilt) is said to be indigenous to Bangladesh Handicrafts and cottage 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 Kantha (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 kanthas (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 kantha revival in the country. Many people now use these quilts for decorative purposes only. Several, Bangladeshi organization 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
Festivals and celebrations are integral part of the culture of Bangladesh. Prominent and widely celebrated festivals are Pohela Baishakh, Independence day, National Mourning Day, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha, Muharram, Durga puja, and Language Movement Day.

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 shirni. 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.

Pohela Baishakh

Pohela Baishakh celebration in Dhaka Pohela Boishakh is the first day of the Bangla Calendar. Pohela Boishakh marked the start day of the crop season. Usually on Pôhela Boishakh, the home is thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned; people bathe early in the morning and dress in fine 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, bull races, bullfights, cockfights, flying pigeons, boat racing were once popular. The most colorful New Year’s Day festival takes place in Dhaka. Large numbers of people gather early in the morning under the banyan tree at Ramna Park where Chhayanat artists open the day with Rabindranath Tagore's famous song, Esho, he Boishakh, Esho Esho (Come, Year, Come, and Come). A similar ceremony welcoming the New Year is also held at the Institute of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka. Students and teachers of the institute take out a colorful procession and parade round the campus. Social and cultural organizations celebrate the day with cultural programmes. Newspapers bring out special supplements. There are also special programmes on radio and television.


Language Movement Day

Shaheed Minar, or the Martyr's monument, located near the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital. 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 color. 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 "Beeya" 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.



National Kabaddi players of Bangladesh Most popular sports in Bangladesh are football (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 victories 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.


Religion in 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.

Islam in Bangladesh

Khan Mohammad Mirdha's Mosque in Dhaka, built in 1706 (18th century old mosque). Islam is the largest religion of Bangladesh, the Muslim population is over 150 million (the third-largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan), and constitute nearly 90% of the total population, based on the 2001 Census. Religion has always been a strong part of identity, but this has varied at different times. A survey in late 2003 confirmed that religion is the first choice by a citizen for self-identification; atheism is extremely rare. Islam is the official religion of The People's Republic, as stated in the Constitution of Article 2A (inserted by the Constitution Eighth Amendment Act, 1988). The United Nations has recognized the country as mainly moderate Muslim democratic country, but however in recent years there has been an increase in Islamism among some political parties. The majority of Muslims in Bangladesh are Sunni, who mainly follow the Hanafi School of teachings, a few follow the deobandi movement, and also there are large numbers of Sufis. There are also very few people who are Ahmadiyya and Shi'a Muslims - most of those who are Shi'a reside in urban areas. The Shi'a observance commemorating the martyrdom of Ali's sons, Hasan and Husayn, are still widely observed by the nation's Sunnis, even though there are small numbers of Shi'as. The Ahmadiyya community is estimated to be around 100,000; the community has faced discrimination and has been persecuted in some areas.


Islam arrived to the region of Bengal since the 13th century, mainly by the arrivals of Arab traders, and conquests of the region. One of the notable Muslim saints was, Shah Jalal. He arrived in the region of Sylhet in 1303 with many other disciples to preach the religion to the people.

Hinduism in Bangladesh

Puja celebrations in Dhakeshwari Temple Hinduism is the second largest religious affiliation in Bangladesh, covering 9.2% of the population. According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. In terms of population, Bangladesh is the third largest Hindu state of the world after India and Nepal. In nature, Bangladeshi Hinduism closely resembles the forms and customs of Hinduism practiced in the neighboring Indian state of West Bengal, with which Bangladesh (at one time known as East Bengal) was united until the partition of India in 1947. The Goddess (Devi) – usually venerated as Durga or Kali – is widely revered, often alongside her consort Shiva. The worship of Shiva has generally found adherents among the higher castes in Bangladesh. Worship of Vishnu (typically in the form of his avatars Rama or Krishna) more explicitly cuts across caste lines by teaching the fundamental oneness of humankind in spirit. Vishnu worship in Bengal expresses the union of the male and female principles in a tradition of love and devotion. This form of Hindu belief and the Sufi tradition of Islam have influenced and interacted with each other in Bengal. Both were popular mystical movements emphasizing the personal relationship of religious leader and disciple instead of the dry stereotypes of the Brahmins or the ulama. As in Bengali Islamic practice, worship of Vishnu frequently occurs in a small devotional society (samaj). Both use the language of earthly love to express communion with the divine. In both traditions, the Bangla language is the vehicle of a large corpus of erotic and mystical literature of great beauty and emotional impact. Bangladeshi Hinduism admits worship of spirits and patron deities of rivers, mountains, vegetation, animals, stones, or disease. Ritual bathing, vows, and pilgrimages to sacred rivers, mountains, shrines, and cities are important practices. An ordinary Hindu will worship at the shrines of Muslim pirs, without being concerned with the religion to which that place is supposed to be affiliated.


Hindus revere many holy men and ascetics conspicuous for their bodily mortifications. Some people believe they attain spiritual benefit merely by looking at a great holy man. The principle of ahimsa is expressed in almost universally observed rules against eating beef. By some means are Bangladeshi Hindus are vegetarians, but abstinence from all kinds of meat is regarded as a "higher" virtue. Brahmin or "Upper-caste" Bangladeshi Hindus, unlike their counterparts elsewhere in South Asia, ordinarily eat fish & chicken. This is similar to the Indian state of West Bengal, which being climatologically similar to Bangladesh, has led Hindus to consume fish as it is the only major source of protein (regardless of caste).

Buddhism in Bangladesh

Buddha giving the first sermon Buddhism is the third largest religion in Bangladesh with about 0.7% of population adheres to the Theravada Buddhism. Most of the practitioners are from the south-eastern district of Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts. Most of the followers of Buddhism in Bangladesh live in the south-eastern region, especially in the Chittagong and Comilla district. There are also people of Arakanese descent living in the subtropical Chittagong Hill Tracts. Most of these people belong to the Chakma, Chak, Marma, Tenchungya and the Khyang, who since time immemorial have practiced Buddhism. Other tribals, notably those who practice Animism, have come under some Buddhist influence, and this is true in the case of the Khumi and the Mru, and to a lesser extent on the other tribes.


Life-style in Bangladesh

A Bangladeshi woman wearing sari is preparing food in traditional way. Family and kinship was the core of social life in Bangladesh. A family group residing in a Bari would function as the basic unit of economic endeavor, landholding, and social identity. In the eyes of rural people, the chula defined the effective household--an extended family exploiting jointly held property and being fed from a jointly operated kitchen. A Bari might consist of one or more such functional households, depending on the circumstances of family relationship. Married sons generally lived in their parents' household during the father's lifetime. Although sons usually built separate houses for their nuclear families, they remained under their fathers' authority, and wives under their mothers-inlaw's authority. The death of the father usually precipitated the separation of adult brothers into their own households. Such a split generally caused little change in the physical layout of the Bari, however. Families at different stages of the cycle would display different configurations of household membership. Although the age at marriage appeared to be rising in the 1980s, early marriage remained the rule even among the educated, and particularly among women. The mean age at marriage in 1981 for males was 24, and for females 17. Women students often married in their late teens and continued their studies in the households of their fathers-in-law. Divorce, particularly of young couples without children, was becoming increasingly common in Bangladesh, with around 1/6 marriages ending in this fashion in the 1980s. A woman began to gain respect and security in her husband's or father-in-law's household only after giving birth to a son. Mothers therefore cherished and indulged their sons, while daughters were often more strictly disciplined and were assigned heavy household chores from an early age. In many families and most enduring emotional relationship was that between mother and son. The father was a more distant figure, worthy of formal respect, and the son's wife might remain a virtual stranger for a long time after marriage.



Some Bangladeshi cuisines 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 flavors. 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) Ilish (hilsa ilisha) 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 Punjabi 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.


A Bangladeshi man wearing lungi

A Bangladeshi woman wearing sari

Man Dress
Traditional: Lungi and Punjabi Occasional: shirt-pant (Child) Fatua, T-shirt-Jeans pant (young) Punjabi-Pajama (old)

Traditional: Sari Occasional: Salwar Kameez, Sari, Fatua, shirt-pant

Different cultural groups think, feel, and act differently. There are no scientific standards for considering one group as intrinsically superior or inferior to another. Studying differences in culture among groups and societies presupposes a position of cultural relativism. It does not imply normalcy for oneself, or nor for one's society. It, however, calls for judgment when dealing with groups or societies different from one's own. Information about the nature of cultural differences between societies, their roots, and their consequences should precede judgment and action. Negotiation is more likely to succeed when the parties concerned understand the reasons for the differences in viewpoints.


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