Two Festivals in Bangladesh

Bangladesh Travel Blog

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Map of Bangladesh

Eids in Bangladesh

By Aminul Mohaimen

The two Eids (Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha) are the main festivals of Bangladeshis. Nothing impacts the whole nation with the same extent and magnitude as the two Eids. They also contribute in maintaining social and family bondage, help establish equity between poor and rich, and play a very important role in the cultural and literary development of the country.

Eid-ul-Fitr comes after month long fasting of the holy Ramadan. The festivity of Eid-ul-Fitr starts from the beginning of Ramadan and ends with the Eid. During the Ramadan most people pay their Zakat, a 2.5% share of the poor in the wealth of the rich, to the poor. This helps the poor participate in the festival. It is a religious obligation on the day to pay fitra to the poor at a fixed rate.

Women farming
Fitra helps the poor to participate in the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr.

Eid-ul Azha is popularly known as Kurbanir Eid or Bakra Eid in Bangladesh. Eid-ul Azha commemorates the sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim (A), who had been asked by Almighty Allah to sacrifice his dearest son Hazrat Ismail (A) and with the consent of his son Hazrat Ibrahim (A) arranged everything to implement Allah's order at a place called Mina near Mokka in solar year 3800. Allah was satisfied by Hazrat Ibraim's sincere intent and ordered him to sacrifice an animal in place of his son.

This Eid is marked by sacrificing animals and distributing the meat among relatives and poor. One-third of the meat of the sacrificed animal is kept for the owner, one third is given to his/her relatives and the rest is distributed among the poor. This gives an opportunity to the rich to discharge a responsibility to the poor and also helps in development of cordiality between the rich and the poor.
Parliament building in Dhaka
The hide or the money received after its sale is given to the poor or to the poor students of madrasahs and orphanages.

On the Eid day everyone tries to dress well and prepare improved foods according to their ability. Relatives and neighbours also share the joys of this festival.

Muslims perform two rakats of Eid prayer on the day and exchange greetings with all. They exchange salam and greetings by embracing one another irrespective of status or age. They also visit the graves of the relatives and pious Muslims. Nowadays exchange of Eid cards and SMS have come in vogue.

Eid fairs are organised at many rural places. These fairs are basically gatherings that promote friendship among the rural people. The fairs are arranged on the bank of a river or under a big banyan tree near the local bazaar. Handicraft items and foodstuffs such as chira, muri, khai, manda, and sweets are sold in the fairs.
Lalbagh Fort
Nakshi pankha, dolls, and decorated pottery as well as musical instruments such as flute, drum, Ektara are also sold. Some fairs have merry-go-rounds, puppet shows and bioscopes. In addition, shows of spiritual songs such as Marfati and Murshidi are also staged in the Eid fairs. In some areas of the riverine Bangladesh boat races are organised. Arrangement of prizes for boats that win the races are specially encouraged. The rich people of the villages give the prizes.

In some rural areas sports competitions are also organised on this occasion. Games like hadudu, Kabadi, and dariabanda entertain the spectators. Football and cricket matches are also organised. These games create a festive atmosphere. After enjoying the fanfare of the Eid festival, people return to their work places with renewed enthusiasm.

DURGA Puja, its universal appeal
The most celebrated religious festival among the Bangalee Hindu community is Durga Puja.
Eid
During the days of Durga puja colourful idols turn parts of the country into a glittering landscape, sounds of dhak and dhol, revv up the mood of jubilation. Durga puja has a history that dates back in the ancient period. There is much debate regarding the origin of Durga Puja. It's history as well is quite complex. For example in Kritivasa's Ramayana, Rama does the Akal bodhon in autumn (Sharat) to do the Durga Puja. On the other hand king Surath used to perform the puja in spring. This puja is now known as Vasanti Puja.

According to the famous scholar Amulyacharan Vidyabhushan the name Durga appeared from Dakshakanyan (daughter of Daksha). In the ancient times the statue of Dakshakanyan was the symbol of fire. The statue of Dakshakanyan was yellow at that time and was set on the Kunda.

Sailing Bangladeshi style
Later the ten sides of the Kunda (hollow in the earth) became the ten hands of Durga. During the last part of the Vedic age, Dakshakanyan evolved in to Uma, Uma in to Ambika and Ambika in to Durga.

Durga Puja may have been held in the ancient days but its character and nature were different then. The Durga Puja that is prevalent today in Bangladesh is a folk form of the ancient custom. At present it is being celebrated in autumn.

Usually Akal Bodhon of Durga takes place on the sixth lunar day of the full moon in the month Aswin. The seventh, eighth and the ninth lunar days are the days of Durga puja. The immersion takes place on the tenth lunar day, which is called Vijoya Dashami.

Train surfing
From the next day of immersion starts the custom of extended Vijoya greetings. Durga's elder daughter Lakshmi is worshipped on the full moon in Aswin. In the month of Kartik on the day of Sankranti (the passage of the sun from one astrological sign to another) Durga's son Kartik is worshipped. Saraswati, Durga's younger daughter is worshipped in the month of Magh on the fifth lunar day of the full moon. There is no puja for Ganesh as he is always worshiped along with other gods.

Durga puja was first transformed into a grand festival in Calcutta not only for celebration. It also served the purpose of entertainment for the English masters. Description of the Durga puja can be found in contemporary journals and novels. Probably from the nineteenth century the faint echo of the puja in Calcutta spread in to Bangladesh.

A fisherman
The landlords and the elites used to reside in Calcutta at that time. They introduced the entertainment and amusement of Calcutta in to the lives of their peasants. The zamindars played the most important role in transforming Durga puja in to a universal festival in this region. For some it was a time to exhibit wealth and for some other people it was the time to show kindness and generosity.

In 1946, after the communal riots in Bangladesh especially in Noakhali many families left the villages to come to the city. In the making of the deity Durga, people from different castes perform different duties. As some of the caste became displaced from their birthplace, it became quite difficult to organise the puja. In this backdrop in the year 1946, Brahmins and non-Brahmins jointly came to the villages ignoring their caste differences to collect donation and organise the puja, which is now known as Sarbojonin Puja.

And you thought parking was bad in the US

Since the beginning of the Pakistan regime most of the pujas organised here in Bangladesh were Sarbojonin. Apart from these, pujas were organised by individual elite families.

After the independence of Bangladesh the Dhakeswari temple of Dhaka has been transformed in to a site for the celebration of the Durga Puja. Most of the mandirs of Dhaka are situated at the old part. Almost all the idols of Dhaka are immersed in the river Buriganga. Huge rally takes place, with thousands of people dancing all the way to Buriganga with the beat of drums (dhak and dhol). Due to the congested status of Dhaka, it is quite difficult to turn the festival in to a grand one.

Durga Pooja
The most spectacular mondops are built outside Dhaka. Chittagong and Narayanganj has huge puja festivity. Traditional Durga puja mela (fair) takes place around different mondops. This fair attracts people of all ages. Statues of clay, sweet treats like khaja, goja, batasha, kodma is sold in the fair. Children are most likely to gather around these stalls. Devotees of all age visit the goddess and pay their respect. Like all the other religious festivals, the theme of Durga puja is nurturing the essence of ecstasy.

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Ferry rides in Dhaka

Bangladesh was actually a part of Bengal (which included Pakistan and parts of India) and didn't become a separate nation until 1971.  It's mostly Muslim, one of the most populated countries in the world, and considered the safest nation for tourists to visit.  Taka is the name of the currency in Bangladesh.

If you look at a map of Bangladesh, you'll see that it is in the Ganges Delta.  As a result, the best way to get around is usually by boat and during the monsoon season it's very difficult to get around.  Thankfully, I'll be there during the winter and shouldn't have major problems with flooding. 

Due to its reputation as a poor country, Bangladesh receives very few tourists.  Actually there is only one guidebook for Bangladesh available in the US and it was published several years ago so it'll be interesting to see how things have changed.

Kantanagar Temple

I'll arrive in Dhaka, the capital city, on January 12th which is on the Buriganga River.  I'm getting there a few weeks after Eid ul-Adha which is a Muslim holiday where cows are sacrificed in the center of the city.  Dhaka is a modern city of 12 million, compared to the mostly rural areas in the rest of the country.

In old town, Lalbagh Fort is one of the main sights and was the location for one the major battles in the war for independence.  There are also multiple mosques, temples, and gardens around the city. 

Within the city, rickshaws are the best way to get around.  In Bangladesh they typically only have cycle rickshaws which are pulled by a person on a bicycle.

Post Office/Doctor's Office in Bangladesh
  In India and Nepal they also have auto-rickshaws which are these small little cars, horse rickshaws pulled by a horse, and even some that are pulled by a human in some places.

It's also well-known for its bazaars which you know I'll be checking out.  You're expected to haggle for the best prices on everything from clothing to livestock, though I don't plan on buying any cattle myself.

I also plan to travel along the Tongi river where you can take a tolar (motor boat) to nearby Ulukala and back.

From Dhaka, I will be taking a train northwest to the city of Dinajpur.  Because of all the rivers crossing Bangladesh and lack of bridges, I will actually have to get off the train halfway, take a ferry across the river, and continue the "same" train ride on the other side to Dinajpur.

The area around Dinajpur is much more rural in comparison to busy Dhaka and is known for the Kantanagar temple.  It's considered one of the best examples of Bangladeshi terra cotta art.  It used to have nine spires, but they were destroyed in an earthquake and only one tower stands now.

After Dinajpur, I'll make my way to the city of Rangpur, then on to Patgram to cross the border into India at Burimari.

http://wikitravel.org/en/Bangladesh  Info on Bangladesh

briannecovel says:
I just got back from Bangladesh! In fact, I was visiting a tea garden much like the photo of the women farming you have! www.tetuliablog.com
Posted on: Apr 02, 2008
Map of Bangladesh
Map of Bangladesh
Women farming
Women farming
Parliament building in Dhaka
Parliament building in Dhaka
Lalbagh Fort
Lalbagh Fort
Eid
Eid
Sailing Bangladeshi style
Sailing Bangladeshi style
Train surfing
Train surfing
A fisherman
A fisherman
And you thought parking was bad in…
And you thought parking was bad i…
Durga Pooja
Durga Pooja
Ferry rides in Dhaka
Ferry rides in Dhaka
Kantanagar Temple
Kantanagar Temple
Post Office/Doctors Office in Ban…
Post Office/Doctor's Office in Ba…
The Rocket
The Rocket
Rickshaws in Dhaka
Rickshaws in Dhaka