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Festivals have always played a significant role in the life of the people of Bangladesh. Those are parts and parcels of Bangalee culture and tradition. Brief account of the major and regular festivals are given below.
The advent of Bengali New Year is gaily observed throughout the country. The Day (mid-April) is a public holiday. Most colorful daylong gatherings along with arrangement of cultural program and traditional Panta at RamnaPark, Dhaka is a special feature of Pahela Baishakh. Tournaments, boat races etc. are held in cities and villages amidst great jubilation. Many fairs are held in Dhaka and other towns and villages.
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 NationalMartyrsMonument 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 (near DhakaMedicalCollegeHospital) 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.
The biggest Muslim festival observed throughout the world. This is held on the day following the Ramadan or the month of fasting. In Dhaka big congregations are held at the National Eidgah and many mosques.
Second biggest festival of the Muslims. It is held marking the Hajj in Mecca on the 10th Zilhaj, the lunar month. Eid congregations are held throughout the country. Animals are sacrificed in reminiscence of Hazrat Ibrahim's (AM) preparedness for the supreme sacrifice of his beloved son to Allah. It is a public holiday.
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 DhakeswariTemple, 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, PortugueseChurch 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.
There are various other festivals that are habitually observed by Bangalees all the year round
A traditionalwedding is arranged by Ghotoks (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 five parts: first it is the bride and groom's Mehendi Shondha,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 gaining popularity.
For the mehendi shondha the bride's side apply henna to each other as well as the bride For the bride's Gaye Holud, the groom's family - except the groom himself - go in procession to the bride's home.[[Image:Gaye holude.jpg|right|thumb|Bride's friends and family apply turmeric paste to her body as a part of Gaye Hoof 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. 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 demand a 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. The bride's 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.
Music, dance, drama and film
"Amar Shonar Bangla, Ami Tomayee Valobashi..." 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, for example Nitoshilpi.
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.
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 joined the elite group of countries eligible to play Test cricket since 2000. 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.
A former prime minister even made an appearance after an international one day 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 90%) are Muslims, and a small number of Hindus, Christians and Buddhists are also in the country.
People of different religions perform their religious rituals with festivity in Bangladesh. The Government has declared National Holidays on all important religious festivals of the four major religion. Durga Puja, Christmas and Buddha Purnima are celebrated with enthusiasm in Bangladesh. All of these form an integral part of the cultural heritage of Bangladesh.
Panta Ilish - a traditional platter of Panta bhat with fried Hilsa 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 freshwaterfish 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.
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 quite popular, especially among younger women. Some women in urban areas also wear pants, skirts and tops.