Bangladesh is a country of colourful celebrations. We celebrate our faith, life, liberty, nature, elation, and achievements round the year through a wide variety of fairs and festivals, organized with inexorable enthusiasm and intricate details. Some Bengali fairs and festivals have recorded history of over 2000 years. Festivals in Bangladesh fall into four major categories: religious festivals, national events, cultural festivals, tribal festivals. Although a few festivals are primarily meant for particular sections of the population, all the festivals have now attained universal reach throughout the country.
Basanta Utsab: It is the first day of spring, celebrated in a very colourful manner throughout the country on the 1st day of Falgun, the 11th month of Bangla calender, which falls in mid-February of Gregorian calendar. On this occasion, people wear colour dresses and colourful fairs and cultural programmes organized. Women usually wear yellow sharis and decorate themselves with floral ornaments. Exchange of greetings and gifts is common on the Day.
Nabanna Utsab & Poush Mela: The Nabanna Utsab (new harvest festival) is celebrated predominantly by rural agrarian population of Bangladesh in Poush, the first month of winter season of the Bengali calendar. With a full granary for the winter, it is the time for the agrarian rural Bengalis to relax and engage in merriment and cultural activities. A traditional Poush Mela (traditional fair) would essentially include a Jatrapala (a traditional theatre), traditional dance and music concerts, along with a wide variety of rice-milk-molasses based delicacies called pitha.
Pohela Boishakh: It is the first day of the Bengali calendar which falls on 14th April of Gregorian calendar. Pohela Boishakh is an integral part of Bangladesh’s cultural heritage. It is closely linked with the rural life. People start this day with new hope thoroughly scrubbing the failures and sorrows of the preceding year. Businessmen, particularly in rural areas, close their old book of accounts and open new ones and treat their customers with traditional sweets to renew the business relationship. People, dressed in colourful traditional clothes, visit their friends, relative and neighbours to exchange greetings. On this day, Fairs are arranged in many parts of the country where various agricultural products, traditional handicrafts, toys, cosmetics, as well as various kinds of food and sweets are sold. The fairs also provide entertainment with singers, dancers and traditional plays and songs. Pohela Boishakh is also celebrated in grand ways in capital Dhaka and other major cities of Bangladesh.
Baul Mela: Every year, in the month of Falgun (February to March), “Lalon Smaran Utshab” (Lalon memorial festival) is held in the shrine of Lalon in Kushtia, where Bauls (itinerant mystic folk singers) and devotees of Lalon from Bangladesh and overseas come to perform and highlight the mystics of Fakir Lalon Shah, the undisputed king of Baul music. Baul music celebrates celestial love in earthly terms.
Weddings: Bangladeshi people consider wedding as one of the most important episode of human life. As a result, people usually make every effort to make their wedding ceremony exemplary and memorable. Bangali wedding include a series of rituals and ceremonies with elaborate details spanning over several days. Wedding is a festive occasion not only for the friends and relatives of the bride and groom; it rather involves the entire communities concerned. Main wedding traditionally takes place at bride’s palace, which includes a grand feast. The wedding ceremony concludes with a reception hosted by the groom’s side.
Amor Ekushey and the International Mother Language Day: Amor Ekushey (immortal 21st) is celebrated throughout the country on 21st February each year to commemorate and pay homage to the language martyrs who sacrificed their lives on 21st February 1952 for the right to mother language, Bangla. The programme usually includes: laying of floral wreaths at Shahid Minar (martyrs monuments) through ceremonial processions in very early hours of the day, special prayers, discussion meetings, cultural events, etc. To promote Bangla language and literature, a month-long book fair is organized in Dhaka in February every year. Similar fairs are organized in different parts of the country. The Day has been declared International Mother Language Day by UNESCO in 1999. Since then, the Day is being celebrated regularly all over the world to uphold the importance of all mother languages of the world.
Independence and National Day: The nation celebrates its Independence and National Day on 26th March with enthusiasm and patriotic zeal. It commemorates the country’s declaration of independence from Pakistan by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the late hours of 25th March 1971. Independence Day celebration includes ceremonial laying of floral wreath at the National Mausoleum at Savar by the Hon’ble President and Hon’ble Prime Minister to pay homage to the valiant freedom fighters, colourful parades, political speeches, fairs, concerts, and many other public and private events celebrating the history and traditions of Bangladesh. TV and radio stations broadcast special programs and patriotic songs. Main streets and landmark buildings are decorated with national flags and lightings. On the eve of Independence Day, the prestigious Independence Award is bestowed upon Bangladeshi citizens. Bangladesh diplomatic missions around the world special programme to mark the Day.
Victory Day: Bangladesh celebrates the Victory Day on 16 December to commemorate the ultimate victory of the Allied Forces over Pakistani forces in the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 marking the of nine-month liberation war and the official secession of East Pakistan into Bangladesh. The festivity and way of celebration is almost similar to that for the Independence Day.
Eid ul-Fitr: It is the biggest Muslim festival celebrated in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world by Muslim people with due solemnity and fervour on the day following the end of the month of Ramadan, the month of fasting. Big congregations are held at the Eidgahs (open fields) and mosques in the morning. The biggest congregation of the country is held at Sholakia in Kishoreganj, where about half a million people gathers for Eid prayers. On this day, people dressed in new clothes visit each other’s houses and exchange greetings. In rural areas, Eid fairs are organized. Cultural, sports and other social events like: boat race, puppet shows, are also organized to promote friendship and solidarity among people. A colourful Eid procession is organized in old Dhaka.
Eid ul-Adha: It is another important religious festival of the Muslim in Bangladesh and elsewhere. The way of celebration of Eid ul-Adha is almost similar to that of Eid ul-Fitr. The major difference is the sacrifice of domestic animals on this occasion, to commemorate the historic sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim (A), which symbolizes utmost loyalty and complete submission to Allah. Eid-ul-Adha is usually observed on the 10th day of Arabic lunar calendar month of Zilhaj.
Durga Puja: It is the biggest festival of the Hindu community in Bangladesh. It is celebrated throughout the country in autumn and the entire population in fact gets involved in the grand festivity. It is the celebration of Goddess Durga’s triumph over demon Mahisasura. In some places of Bangladesh, it is celebrated in the spring as Basanti Puja. On the fourth day of worship, the idol is immersed in water through colourful possession. In Dhaka, the big celebrations are held at Dhakeswari Temple and at the Ram Krishna Mission.
Buddha Purnima: Buddha Purnima, the birth anniversary of Lord Bhuddha, is the most important festival of the Buddhists and is celebrated throughout the country with religious fervour and enthusiasm on full moon day in the month of April. This is a public holiday in Bangladesh. On this day, various religious rituals at Buddhist temples and monasteries are observed. Buddhism is one of the most ancient religions of Bangladesh, which is home to a few most important oldest Buddhist monasteries in Asia.
Christmas: Christmas is celebrated every year throughout Bangladesh with pomp and enthusiasm. Christmas in Bangladesh starts with singing of carols in churches from the first week of December. Churches, homes, city hotels are decorated with Christmas trees and colourful lightings.