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Open Discussion

Cultural Heritage of Bangladesh

by

Dr. M. Kamrul Hasan

Joint Director, Rural Education and Social Development, BARD

Introduction

Bengal is the largest delta in the world. The history of Bangladesh is old.

Bangladesh is an young state but is the home of an old civilization various races and

tribes settled and assimilated with the local population

. General mass people of Bangladesh are generally simple but artistic. This country

is land of folk culture and heritage. They are known as Bengali having rich and colorful

cultural heritages in the world. 

In the earliest period Bengal was known to be inhabited by different groups of

people, whose names came to be associated with the area inhabited by them. Thus the

ancient Janapadas of Vanga, Pundra, Radha, Samatata, Horikel, Gauda and others  came

to be recognized as inhabited by non-Aryan ethnic groups bearing those names. The pre-

Aryan elements in the culture of the people of Bengal got time to become deeply rooted

and even under Aryan influence.  Persons of Arab, Persian, and Middle Asian origin

those had Islamic values moved in Bengal in early 11th century A.D. 

Vast majority of Bengali people is living in Bangladesh. Moreover, there are several

ethnic communities inhabited at Chittagong Hill Tracts and other parts of Bangladesh

such as Greater Rajshahi, Mymensing, Sylhet and other areas. The total population of

tribal ethnic minorities in Bangladesh was estimated to be over 2 million in 20101. The

citizen of Bangladesh known as both Bengali and Bangladeshi.

In a broad sense, culture as way of life. Culture refers to the customary patterns of

behavior and shared values, beliefs, and assumption found within social groups. Social

groups may be differentiated from each other by their livelihood, differing attitudes,

beliefs, language, dress, manners, tastes in food, music or interior decoration, and host of

other features which compromise a way of life.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_peoples_in_Bangladesh

Culture is overall way of ornamentation of human living from art-literature to life

styles. Culture means living nicely and it has diversity.  Culture and identity strongly

bonded each other. Culture describes the many ways in which human beings express

themselves for the purposes of uniting with others, forming a group, defining an identity,

and even for distinguishing themselves as unique. According to sociologist Pritirim

Sorokin (1937) culture is the “sum total of everything which is created or modified by the

conscious and unconscious activity of two or more individuals interacting, with one

another or conditioning one another behaviors”. Culture, civilization, and patterns of

education produce diverse cultural mentalities across the world.  Anthropologist E.B.

Tylor2 (1871), defines “Culture…. is that complex whole which includes knowledge,

belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as

a member of society.’’ The key expression here is “acquired by men as a member of

Bengal known as cultural diversity. From ancient period of time the foundation of

culture developed here through agriculture production organizations, agriculture

civilization, humanistic folk traditions, trade and commerce, limited urban centers,

political organizations and etc. Early settlers, immigrants and invaders conflict over

cultures and political organizations from time immemorial and that eventually

synchronized the culture of Bangladesh. However, Bengal or Bangladesh known as

nearly self sufficient village community in the past in social history.

The spiritual humanism one of the core of folklore of Bangladesh. At the same time,

general people have integrated mind. It was reflected in the Bengali literatures

particularly of the sixteenth century and onwards. For example poet Abdul Hakim’s Nur-

Allah Khoda Gasain Sakal tar naam,

Sarba goone niranjan pravu goonadham

(Allah Khuda Gasain all bear the same name of the Great Lord who is the repository

of all noble virtues)3.

2 His famous book is Primitive Culture which published in 1871.

3 Ahmed, A F Salahuddin. 2004. Bangladesh History and Culture - An overview. In Bangladesh national

culture and heritage, Dhaka: Independent University of Bangladesh.

In ancient, Bengal known as Gauda. The Banga or Vanga named as Shahi-i-

Bangala in Sultani (Pathan era) period of sultans Fakhurddin Mubarak Shah and

Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah. In Mughul period it was called as Bangla Suba. In 1905 Bengal

divided and Eastern Bengal and Assam province was formed. In 1911 Bengal reunified.

Again second partition of Bengal took placed in 1947. The territory of East Bengal (the

then East Pakistan) emerged as the People’s Republic of Bangladesh through liberation

war of Bangladesh in 1971. The spirit of liberation is the foundation of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh War of Independence, or Liberation War in Bangladesh great historical

moment in Bangladesh history. The Bangladeshi Declaration of Independence was issued

in response to the crackdown by Pakistani occupational forces. The liberation war lasted

for nine months, with the Mukti Bahini successfully managing to restrict Pakistani forces

to their barracks at night by November. India joined the war on 3 December 1971, after

Pakistan launched  air strikes on North India. 

Several distinct elements have contributed to the making of the cultural heritage

of the people of Bangladesh, namely

a) Pre Aryan period settlements

b) Self sufficient village community

c) Hindu and Buddhism

d) Sufism and Islamic

e) Cultural identity of tribal people of the land

f) Western or European

g) Synthesis of traditions and modernity under globalization process  

Establishment of Dhaka University in 1921 was significant and Shikha Goushti

commenced on cultural movement on free thinking. Bengali middle class took the lead

for cultural emancipation. It was Language movement 1948-52 sparked our mind to be

flourished through our Bengali language and culture. Our language movement has

created enormous impact on culture. Political movements, cultural movements from

progressive and left wing forces, education movement, oppression and discrimination in

economic and social sectors by the West Pakistani rulers,  six points movement, eleven

points movements, mass movement, democratic movements and etc all leads to

nationalism movement. It has created freedom and new aspirations.

To know Bangladesh culture we must know the folk culture of Bangladesh. The

famous Mymensing Gitika or Purba Banga Gitika, the humanistic philosophy of Lalon

Fakir and other boul or bards like Jalaluddin Kha, Hason Raja, Radaromon, Shah Abdul

Karim and other. These are the one of the intellectual traditions of Bangladesh.

In art and painting Jainul Abedin to SM Sultan and other renowned artist of Bangladesh.

In literature fiction from Shah Waliullah to Popular Humayan Ahmed. In poetry from

Jashimuddin to Shamsur Rahaman are some of famous contributors. In architecture,

Majharl Islam made architectural vision for the buildings and sites.

Fundamental Principles of The Peoples Republic of Bangladesh

• Nationalism

• Socialism and freedom from exploitation

• Democracy and human rights

• Secularism and freedom of religion

Constitutional obligation to our cultural heritage

Article 23: National Culture

The State shall adopt measures to conserve the cultural traditions and heritage of

the people, and so to foster and improve the national language, literature and the arts that

all sections of the people are afforded the opportunity to contribute towards and to

participate of the national culture.

Article 23A: the culture of tribes, minor races, ethnic sects and communities

The State take steps to protect and develop the unique local culture and tradition

of the tribes, minor races, ethnic sects, and communities.

Article 24: National Monuments

The State shall adopt measures for the protection against disfigurement, damage

or removal of all monuments, objects or places or special artistic or historic importance

or interests.

Levels of culture – three levels

• National culture

• International culture

• Subculture

Subculture may be divided into three spaces, like

• Adibashi - Ethnic (Tribal)

• Urban

Folk heritage- folk heritage major part of culture in Bangladesh.

Peasant culture- culture based on agricultural practices. Peasant livelihood.

Bangladesh is country of Cultural Diversity

Culture and society are interrelated. Culture has three components (Haldar4, 1981):

a) Material means;

b) Social structure; and

c) Mental-ideological.

The people of Bangladesh have multidimensional identity

Language identity: Bengali language is the main identity of the Bangladesh

nation.  However, Bangladesh has several ethnolinguistic communities. Which indicate

diversify of Bangladesh languages and culture. The other identities are Nation-state

identity, ethnic identity, religious identity, and people’s occupational identity. 

Therefore the people of Bangladesh have multi cultural identity.

Cultural heritage

The core cultural practices, knowledge, habits, traits etc, of a particular group of

people transmitted from generation to generation.

Cultural heritage ("national heritage" or just "heritage") is the legacy of physical

artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past

generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations.

A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained

in the present, with origins in the past.

Cultural Heritage divided into two parts such as Tangible cultural heritage and

intangible cultural heritage.

Physical or tangible cultural heritage includes building and historic places,

monuments, artifacts, etc., that are considered worthy of preservation for the future.

4 Gopal Haldar, Sonskritir Rupantar

Heritage can also include cultural landscapes. Recently heritage practitioners have moved

from classifying heritage as natural. 

The intangible cultural heritage are

• Customs, rituals, habits, practice, representations, expressions, knowledge and

skill

• Literature (Purbanga gitika, puthi, and modern literatue)

• Black smith

• Food cooking and drinks

• Art tradition

• Music

• Folk dances

• Performing arts

• Social practices, rituals and festive events

• Knowledge and practices concerning nature and universe

• Traditional craftsmanship

• Traditional sports and game

• Traditional medicine

• Handloom and textile fabrics, embroidery

• World views , and

• Others

Some Aspect of Cultural heritage of Bangladesh

• Marriage festivals

• Observing National holidays and national days

• Handicrafts -nakshikatha and other product of

• Hand weaving – glorious muslin cloth and other clothes (khadi and others)

• Metal works

• Weaving and dress patterns

• Pottery and terracotta

• Wood works / boat making skill

• Archeological sites

• Places of historical importance

• Monuments, sculpture, painting and architecture

• Religions- various religious practices assimilated with folk life of the people of

Bengal.

• Festivals - Nababarsha, Nabanna, Basanta, Baishabi, and Others religious like

Eid Ul Fitre, Eid Ul Ajha, Durga Puja, Budha Purnima, Borodin and Etc.

Heritage sites and traditions of Bangladesh, declared by UNESCO

• Paharpur

• Sundarban

• Shaat Gambuj Mosque

• Boul folk songs

• Ramsar  heritage of wetland  – Hakaluki Houar, Tanguar houar

Bangladesh: A Nation State

Bangladesh is a nation that changed its statehood twice in less than a quarter of a century.

She is new nation in continuous old nation and transforming religious nationalism to

linguistic nationalism (Khan5 1996). Constitutionally Bangladesh is a modern,

humanistic secular State.

Some of the pictures of Bangladesh history and traditions

5 Khan, Akbar Ali. 1996. Discovery of Bangladesh: in Search of a Hidden Nation. Dhaka:UPL

http://bhesa.ca/files/pdf/publications/BHESA_EdmontonBichitra_2015_BHSE.pdf ‘Shalish’-Mediation in Rural Bangladesh Print Email Details Created: 13 February 2014 by Delwar Jahid// Introduction :Generally the word shalish means mediation in Bangladesh society (Huq: 1998). The concept of shalish refers to a method of dispute resolution, and is considered to be a customary practice of resolving differences among community members. In order to resolve disputes between the contending parties, an impartial third party mediates shalish. The concept has significant civil and legal importance as it helps to restore community harmony formally and informally. Since shalish vivifies the dynamics of rural power structure of Bangladesh, it has enormous theoretical implications. First, it stabilizes socio-political livelihood and class-conflict in small community context. When social conflicts, disintegration, violence and terrorism, and chaos erupt in community; shalish appears to supplement and substitute immediate legal needs of the community. Second, shalish is a strong means to establish community solidarity, social bondage and reciprocal coexistence. As well, shalish is a traditional democratic mode of conflict resolution. The ‘Banglapedia’ defines shalish as a social system for informal adjudication of petty disputes both civil and criminal, by local notables, such as matbars (leaders) or shalishkars (adjudicators). Two types of adjudication have been in place in rural Bangladesh from days of antiquity, these were shalish and extension of the state’s judicial arm into the rural areas through specific legislation. Read more ... Site Info About the FounderAdvertisingBengali FontsUsage AgreementPrivacy Policy Contact Reach Out to UsNewsletter Signup Management HTML Site MapXML SitemapAdmin Login News International NewsCountry NewsLocal News AlbertaNews from BangladeshEducationEditorial LiteratureContemporaryOpen DiscussionEntertainmentPhoto Gallery Copyright @2012-{source}2024 by Delwar Jahid

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