Bengali Festivals

by Alex Saez
Bengalis celebrate a rich culture.

Bengalis celebrate a rich culture.

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The diverse mixture of cultures and religions in Bangladesh have given rise to a variety of festivals. Despite the country's turbulent past marked by civil war and struggles for independence, the people of Bangladesh are full of life and dedication, as shown in their celebrations.

Secular Festivals

The New Year is a significant celebration in Bangladesh and is a colorful and lively non-religious festival. Participants dress up in their finest clothes to enjoy traditional foods, crafts, plays and songs. To the Bengali, the New Year symbolizes a fresh start, so many businesses get rid of their old inventory and people clean their homes. Pawhela Falgoon, another secular festival, celebrates the arrival of spring. it is carried out in a similar fashion to the New Year celebration with the addition of gift-giving.

Muslim Festivals

The primary Muslim festival is Eid-ul-Fitr. When Muslims see the moon's first appearance during Ramadan, they fast from sunrise to sunset for an entire month. Eid-ul Azha is second only to Eid-ul-Fitr i importance. It commemorates a Muslim figure named Hazrat Ibrahim, who was prepared to sacrifice his son to Allah. Animals are sacrificed to symbolize Ibrahim's dedication. Eid-e-Miladunnabi, another Muslim festival, celebrates the birth and death of the prophet Muhammad. People in hospitals, orphanages and jails receive special foods, and major public buildings are decorated with lights.

Hindu Festivals

Durga Puja is the most important Hindu festival. During this 10-day celebration, Hindus commemorate the vanquishing of demons. Participates wash their cars, decorating them with flowers and leaves fromi the mango trees. Young people give out candy, followed by a dramatic recreation of the life of Rama. Kali Puja is a Hindu festival that honors the goddess Shiva. Male goats, buffalo and sheep are sacrificed in her name. Another Hindu celebration is Rash Mela, dudring which members of the Hindu faith visit holy locations and end their journey at dawn by bathing in the sea.

Christian Festivals

Christmas is widely celebrated among Christians in Bangladesh. Followers gather all day in holy locations such as St. Mary's Cathedral, Portuguese Church in Tejgahon and the Church of Bangladesh. Festivities are similar to those in the United States, with traditions such as Christmas trees and church decorations.

Buddhist Festivals

Buddha Purnima is the most important Bengali Buddhist festival. It celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. Buddhists gather to pray, tell stories and organize events. Some of these events include fairs and general social gatherings. Some Buddhist monasteries carry out three-day long celebrations to honor this public holiday. Prabarana Purnima is a Buddhist holiday that commemorates dedication to humility and abstaining from anything that violates the Buddhist doctrine. Buddhists release hot air balloons called "Fanush" to light the sky.

About the Author

Alex Saez is a writer who draws much of his information from his professional and academic experience. Saez holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Queen's University and an advanced diploma in business administration, with a focus on human resources, from St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario.

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