Food & Festivals
There are as many festivals in Bangladesh as there are days in the year. Fairs and festivals play an important role in the social life of ordinary Bangladeshis. The biggest Muslim religious festivals are the Eid-Ul-Fitr (end of the fasting month of Ramadhan). Eid-ul-Azha, Muharram and Miladunnabi (birth day of the Prophet), widely celebrated festivals for other religious communities are the Durga Puja for the Hindus, Christmas for Christians and Buddha Purnima for the Buddhists. Bangla New Year’s Day (Pahela Baishakh), Shahid Dibas (Language Martyrs’ Day), Independence Day (March 26) and Victory Day (December 16) are celebrated nation-wide.
Besides these religious and national festivals, villages and townships, professional groups, cultural organizations arrange their own festivals.
:: Festivals of Bangladesh
:: Folk Dance of Bangladesh
:: Folk Festivals of Bangladesh
Bengali New Year’s day is colorful event in the cities and villages throughout the country. The day (14 April) is a public holiday.The most attractive event in Dhaka, that spreads throughout the day, takes place at Ramna Park. Students of the Fine Art Institute of Dhaka University organize colorful pageant where paper made animals and masks figure prominantly. Tournaments, boat races and other forms of celebration take place amidst great jubilation. Many fairs are held in Dhaka and other towns and villages.
Prophet Muhammad (SM) was born on 12th Rabiul Awal (Lunar Month). He also breathed his last on the same day. The day is national holiday, the National flag flies from rooftops and food is offered to destitutes and the orphans. Prayers are offered in Milad mehfils in the afternoon.At night important public buildings are illuminated.
The biggest state festival, the Independence day (March 26) is observed throughout the country. All major cities wear a festive look. It is a public holiday. The citizens of Dhaka wake up early in the morning to the sound of booming guns heralding the day. Leaders of the government, political and social organizations, freedom fighters and ordinary citizens alike place floral wreaths at the National Martyrs’ Memorial at Savar. Bangla Academy, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and other socio-cultural organizations held cultural function. Sports meet and tournaments are organized including the exciting boat race in the river Buriganga. At night the main public buildings are illuminated. Similar functions are arranged in other cities and towns.
21st Feb, the National Mourning Day and World Mother Language Day
21 February of every year is observed throughout the country in remembrance of the martyrs’ of Language Movement of 1952. Blood was shed on this day at the Central Shahid Minar (near Dhaka Medical College Hospital) area to establish Bangla as a state language of Pakistan. All subsequent movements including the struggle for independence owe their origin to the historic language movement. The Shahid Minar (martyrs’ monument) is the symbol of the supreme sacrifice for the mother tongue. The day is a public holiday. Mourning services begin in Dhaka at midnight at the Shahid Minar with a song that tellingly recall the sacrifice of the martyrs. The event of the day include processions, song sessions, placing of flowers at the Minar and prayer at the graves of martyrs’ at Azimpur.
- The day has been declared the International Mother Language Day by the UNESCO
The biggest Muslim festival, Eid-ul- Fitr is observed throughout the world. The Eid falls on the following day of Ramadan or the month of fasting.
Eid-ul-Azha is the second biggest festival of the Muslims. It marks the Hajj in Mecca on the 10th of Zilhaj, the lunar month. Large Eid congregations are held in mosques and public prayer grounds. Animals are sacrificed in the memory of Hazrat Ibrahim’s (AM) preparedness for the sacrifice of his beloved son to Allah. The day is a public holiday.
Muharram is a month of sad memories of the tragic martyrdom of Imam Hussain (RA) at Karbala in Iraq on the 10th day of the month.The day is marked by a huge procession in Dhaka that is brought out from the the Hussaini Dalan Imambara in old city.
Durga Puja, the biggest festival of the Hindu community in the country, continues for ten days with the last three days being the most joyful. The festivities culminate with the idol of goddess Durga immersed in the river. In Dhaka the big celebrations are held ; at Dhakeswari Temple, where a fair is also held and at the Ram Krishna Mission.
Christmas, known as “Bara Din” or The Big Day in Bangla is celebrated with festivities in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country. Several day-long congregations 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 & other festivities.
RABINDRA & NAZRUL JAYANTI
The birth anniversary of the nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore on 25th Baishakh (early May) and that of the national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam on 11th Jaystha (late May) are observed throughout the country. Big gatherings and songs sessions organized by socio-cultural organizations are the main 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 for his fiery writings.
The mela which accompanies the annual bathing at a place near Sonargaon (about 27 km. from Dhaka) is a very attractive festival observed by the Hindu Community every year on the last day of Chaittra (last Bengali month – mid April ). Devotees dip in the river to ceremonialy cleans themselves of all sins.
All major hotels and most of the resturant in the country have western food on their menu but local dishes are normally more exotic. Curries of many kinds abound, cooked with a range of spices and hot curry powders some of the more favourite dishes are Korma, Rezala, Bhoona and Masala Gosht, Chicken, Mutton, Beef, Fish and Prawns, Chicken Afgans, Boti Kabab, Shutil Kabab and a variety of fish curries should be tried. Rice and mutton or chicken and khichuri are available in any reasonable restaurant. Those who do not care for rice dishes can try mughlai parata, plain parata or naan, which go very well with curries. Sea-food and sweet water fish are available in most of the towns. Fish-lovers should not misss smoked hilsa (Hilsha or Ilish is, our national fish), fresh bhetki and chingri (lobster /king prawns) malaikari, prawn dopayaza. In Dhaka a number of good restaurants including those run by Parjatan provide local and western food. Vegetarians need not be frustrated. In each and every restaurant in Dhaka offer vegetable dishes.
The most widely used beverage and lemonade are favourite summer time drinks.Green coconut are also a good source of refreshing drinks and are available with street side vendors.Tea is available every nook and corner of the country. Soft drinks such as Royal Cola, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Fanta, 7-up, Mirinda, Sun-crest and Sprite are available even in village. Hard drinks are sold in big hotels and selected restaurants including Parjatan. Drinking alcohol in public area is not recommended for foreigners.
Misthi Doi – sweetened youghurt and Halua – a common dessert made with eggs,sugar or carrots, sooji or wheat cream, almond and pistachio are the most common desserts. Sandesh- a milk based sweet meat. Zarda- sweetened rice with nuts, Firni- rice flour cooked in milk, sugar and flavouring, Rasgolla and Kalojam- two popular milk based dessert and made with sugar, flour and ghee, and Rosh Malai- round sweets floating in thick milk are almost a passion with Bangladeshis. Pithas – a blanket term for cakes or pastries of different varieties such as Chitoi, Dhupi, Takti, Andosha, Bhafa, Puli and Pua are popular winter time heats.