People & Culture

 
People & Population of Bangladesh : The Racial Mix

The country's population is almost evenly distributed throughout its 64 districts except for the three Hill Tracts districts which are rather sparsely inhabited. Regionally, the eastern districts have a slightly higher density than the western ones. On average, a district has a population of about 1.8 million, a thana 230,000, a union 25,000 and a village 2,000. There are 490 thanas, 4,451 unions and 59,990 villages. The number of households is about 20 million. On average, a household consists of 5.6 persons. The tribal people, who lead a simple life, are generally self-reliant, producing their own food and drinks and weaving their own clothes.

There are 4 metropolitan cities and 119 municipalities in the country. The level of urbanization is low at 20%. This leaves 80% of the country's total population of about 120 million to live in the rural areas which primarily depend on a poorly developed agriculture for livelihood. The capital city of Dhaka has an estimated population of 8.58 million. The annual growth rate of the population has come down to 1.75% with the acceptance of family planning practices rising to 48.7%. The crude birth rate per 1000 is 25.6 and the death rate is 8.1. Life expectancy at birth is 59.5 years. The rate of child mortality per 1000 has come down to 76.8 and that of maternal mortality to 4.5. About 96.3% families in the country have now access to safe drinking water. The sex ratio is 106 males for every 100 females. The density of population per square kilometre is 800.

Some 44.3% of the people are literate with about 5 million having passed secondary school level and another 1.27 million being graduates. The primary school enrollment rate has risen to 86% and the rate for secondary school enrollment to 33%. To intensify promotion of compulsory primary education, the food-for education programme has been extended to over 16,000 schools. More and more primary schools will be brought under this programme.

Bangladesh : Demographic Features

The country's population is almost evenly distributed throughout its 64 districts except for the three Hill Tracts districts which are rather sparsely inhabited. Regionally, the eastern districts have a slightly higher density than the western ones. On average, a district has a population of about 1.8 million, a thana 230,000, a union 25,000 and a village 2,000. There are 490 thanas, 4,451 unions and 59,990 villages. The number of households is about 20 million. On average, a household consists of 5.6 persons. The tribal people, who lead a simple life, are generally self-reliant, producing their own food and drinks and weaving their own clothes.

There are 4 metropolitan cities and 119 municipalities in the country. The level of urbanization is low at 20%. This leaves 80% of the country's total population of about 120 million to live in the rural areas which primarily depend on a poorly developed agriculture for livelihood. The capital city of Dhaka has an estimated population of 8.58 million. The annual growth rate of the population has come down to 1.75% with the acceptance of family planning practices rising to 48.7%. The crude birth rate per 1000 is 25.6 and the death rate is 8.1. Life expectancy at birth is 59.5 years. The rate of child mortality per 1000 has come down to 76.8 and that of maternal mortality to 4.5. About 96.3% families in the country have now access to safe drinking water. The sex ratio is 106 males for every 100 females. The density of population per square kilometer is 800.

Some 44.3% of the people are literate with about 5 million having passed secondary school level and another 1.27 million being graduates. The primary school enrollment rate has risen to 86% and the rate for secondary school enrollment to 33%. To intensify promotion of compulsory primary education, the food-for education programme has been extended to over 16,000 schools. More and more primary schools will be brought under this programme.

Bangladesh : Population Statistics

Population : 133,376,684 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure :

0-14 years : 0-14 years: 33.8% (male 23,069,242; female 21,995,457)

15-64 years : 62.8% (male 42,924,778; female 40,873,077)

65 years and over : 3.4% (male 2,444,314; female 2,069,816) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate : 1.59% (2002 est.)

Birth rate : 25.12 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate : 8.47 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.) 

Net migration rate : -0.75 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex Ratio :

At Birth : 1.06 male(s)/female.

Under 15 years : 1.05 male(s)/female.

15-64 years : 1.05 male(s)/female.

65 years and over : 1.18 male(s)/female.

Total Population : 1.05 male(s)/female (2002 est.) .

Infant mortality rate : 68.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth :

Total population : 60.92 years.

Male : 61.08 years

Female : 60.74 years (2002 est.)

Total Fertility rate : 2.72 children born/woman (2002 est.)

Nationality :

Noun : Bangladeshi(s).

Adjective : Bangladeshi 

Ethnic groups : Bengali 98%, Biharis & tribals.

Religions : Muslim 88.3%, Hindu 10.5%, other 1.2% .

Languages : Bangla (official), English.

Literacy :

Definition : age 15 and over can read and write.

Total Population : 56%.

Male : 63%.

Female : 49% (2000 est.).

Bangladesh : Population Characteristics

The estimated population of Bangladesh (2001) was 131,269,860, making Bangladesh one of the ten most populous countries. The overall density, 890 persons per sq km (2,304 persons per sq mi) in 2001, is much higher than that of other countries except for microstates such as Singapore. Bangladesh supports a large rural population, with 21 percent of the Bangladeshi people classified as urban in 1999. The distribution of the population is relatively even, except in the sparsely populated Chittagong Hill Tracts District and the almost totally uninhabited Sundarbans. Most of the people are relatively young, nearly 60 percent being under the age of 25 and only 3 percent being 65 or older. Life expectancy at birth is 61 years.

Bangladesh : Language

The official language is Bangla, sometimes called Bengali. It is the first language of more than 98 percent of the population. It is written in its own script, derived from that of Sanskrit. Urdu is the language of several hundred thousand people, many of whom emigrated from India in the late 1940s.

International Mother Language Day :

The UNESCO has declared 21st February as The International Mother Language Day to be observed globally in recognition of the sacrifices of the Bangla language martyrs who laid their lives for establishing the rightful place of Bangla. The proclamation came in the form of a resolution unanimously adopted at the plenary of the UNESCO at its headquarters in Paris in November 1999. In its resolution the UNESCO said-' 21st February be proclaimed International Mother Language Day throughout the world to commemorate the martyrs who sacrificed their lives on this very day in 1952'.

It is a great tribute and glowing homage paid by the international community to the language martyrs of Bangladesh. The genesis of the historic Language Movement which ensued since September 1947 with the students in the vanguard backed by intellectuals, cultural activists and patriotic elements was the first spurt of Bangalee nationalistic upsurge culminating in the sanguinary events of February 21, 1952 and finally leading to the war of Liberation in 1971.

The UNESCO in its resolution said-the recognition was given bearing in mind that all moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness about linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

Henceforth UN member countries around the world will observe 21st February as the International Mother Language Day. The historic 21st February has, thus, assumed new dimension. The sacrifices of Rafiq, Salam, Jabbar, Barkat and other martyrs as well as of those tortured and repressed by the then authoritarian government of Pakistan for championing the cause of their mother tongue have received now a glorious and new recognition by the November 1999 resolution of the UNESCO.

Bangladesh : Religions

Islam, the state religion, is the faith of 88 percent of the population, almost all of whom adhere to the Sunni branch. Hindus make up most of the remainder, and the country has small communities of Buddhists, Christians, and animists.

Bangladesh is one of the largest Muslim countries in the world. Most Bangladeshi Muslims are Sunnis, but there is a small Shia community. Among religious festivals of Muslims Eidul Fitr, Eidul Azha, Eiday Miladunnabi, Muharram etc. are prominent . The contention that Bengali Muslims are all descended from lower-caste Hindus who were converted to Islam is incorrect; a substantial proportion are descendants of the Muslims who reached the subcontinent from elsewhere. 

Hinduism is professed by about 12 percent of the population. Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja, Kali Puja etc. are Hindu festivals. Hindus in Bangladesh are almost evenly distributed in all regions, with concentrations in Khulna, Jessore, Dinajpur, Faridpur, and Barisal.

Biharis, who are not ethnic Bangalees, are Urdu-speaking Muslim refugees from Bihar and other parts of northern India. They numbered about 1 million in 1971 but now had decreased to around 600,000. They once dominated the upper levels of the society. They sided with Pakistan during the 1971 war. Hundreds of thousands of Biharis were repatriated to Pakistan after the war. 

Tribal race constitutes less than 1 percent of the total population. They live in the Chittagong Hills and in the regions of Mymensingh, Sylhet, and Rajshahi. The majority of the tribal population live in rural areas. They differ in their social organization, marriage customs, birth and death rites, food, and other social customs from the people of the rest of the country. They speak Tibeto-Burman languages. In the mid-1980s, the percentage distribution of tribal population by religion was Hindu 24, Buddhist 44, Christian 13, and others 19. 

Major tribes are the Chakmas, Maghs (or Marmas), Tipras, Murangs, Kukis and Santals. The tribes tend to intermingle and could be distinguished from one another more by differences in their dialect, dress, and customs than by tribal cohesion. Only the Chakmas and Marmas display formal tribal organization. They are of mixed origin but reflect more Bengali influence than any other tribe. Unlike the other tribes, the Chakmas and Marmas generally live in the highland valleys. Most Chakmas are Buddhists, but some practice Hinduism or Animism. 

The Santals live in the northwestern part of Bangladesh. They obey a set of religious beliefs closely similar to Hinduism. The Khasais live in Sylhet in the Khasia Hills near the border with Assam, and the Garo and Hajang in the northeastern part of the country. 

Art & Literature of Bangladesh :

Bangladesh has a rich tradition of Art. Speciniens of ancient terracota and pottery show remarkable artistry. Modern painting was pioneered by artists like Zainul Ahedin, Qamrul Hasan. Anwarul Haque, Shafiuddin Ahnied, Shafiqul Amin, Rashid Chowdhury and S.M. Sultan. Zainul Ahedin earned worldwide fame by his stunning sketches of the Bengal Famine in 1943. 

Other famous artists of Bangladesh are Abdur Razzak, Qayyum Chowdhury, Murtaza Baseer, Aminul Islam, Debdas Chakraborty, Kazi Abdul Baset, Syed Jahangir, and Mohammad Kibria

The earliest available specimen of Bengali literature is about a thousand years old. During the mediaeval period. Bengali Literature developed considerably with the patronage of Muslim rulers. Chandi Das, Daulat Kazi and Alaol are some of the famous poets of the period. The era of modern Bengali Literature began in the late nineteenth century Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Laureate is a vital part of Bangalee culture. Kazi Nazrul Islam, Michael Madhusudan Datta. Sarat Chandra Chattopadhaya, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhaya, Mir Mosharraf Hossain and Kazi Ahdul Wadud are the pioneers of modern Bengali Literature.

Fair & Festivals of Bangladesh :

Fairs and festivals have always played a significant role in the life of the citizens of this country. They derive from them a great amount of joy, entertainment and color for life. While most of the festivals have sprung from religious rituals, the fairs have their roots in the very heart of the people, irrespective of religion, caste or creed. 

Pahela Baishakh :

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 Ramna Park, 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. 

Independence Day :

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 National Martyrs Monument 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 Dhaka Medical College Hospital) 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 :

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. 

Eid-ul-Fitr :

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. 

Eid-ul-Azha :

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 :

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 :

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 Dhakeswari Temple, where a fair is also held and at the Ram Krishna Mission. 

Christmas :

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, 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 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. 

Langalbandh Mela : 

At a place near Sonargaon (about 27 km. from Dhaka) a very attractive festival observed by the Hindu Community every year on the last day of Chaittra (last Bengali month) - mid April, when the devotees take religious bath in the river.

There are various other festivals that are habitually observed by Bangalees all the year round.

Bangladesh : Dance and Music

Classical forms of the sub-continent predominate in Bangladeshi dance. The folk, tribal and Middle Eastern traits are also common. Among the tribal dances, particularly popular are Monipuri and Santal. Rural girls are in the habit of dancing that does not require any grammar or regulations. Bangla songs like jari and shari are presented accompanied with dance of both male and female performers.

The traditional music in Bangladesh shares the perspectives of that of the Indian sub-continent. Music in Bangladesh can be divided into three distinct categories -classical, folk and modern. The classical music, both vocal and instrumental is rooted in the remote past of the sub-continent. Ustad Alauddin Khan and Ustad Ayet Ali Khan are two names in classical instrumental music who are internationally known.

The store of folk song abounds in spiritual lyrics of Lalan Shah, Hasan Raja, Romesh Shill and many anonymous lyricists. Bangla music arena is enriched with Jari, Shari, Bhatiali, Murshidi and other types of folk songs. Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Sangeet are Bangalees' precious heritage. Modern music is also practiced widely. Contemporary patterns have more inclinations to west. Pop song and band groups are also coming up mainly in Dhaka City. 

Musical Instruments :

Bangladesh has a good number of musical instruments originally of her own. Originally country musical instruments include, Banshi (bamboo flute), Dhole (wooden drums), Ektara (a single stringed instrument), Dotara (a four stringed instrument), Mandira (a pair of metal bawls used as rhythm instrument), Khanjani, Sharinda etc. Now-a-days western instruments such as Guitar, Drums, Saxophone, Synthesizer etc. are being used alongside country instruments. 

Drama & Jatra : 

Drama in Bangladesh has an old tradition and is very popular. In Dhaka more than a dozen theater groups have been regularly staging locally written plays as well as those adopted from famous writers, mainly of European origin. Popular theatre groups are Dhaka Theatre, Nagarik Nattya Sampraday and Theatre. In Dhaka, Baily Road area is known as 'Natak Para' where drama shows are regularly held. Public Library Auditorium and Museum Auditorium are famous for holding cultural shows. Dhaka University area is a pivotal part of cultural activities.

Jatra (Folk Drama) is another vital chapter of Bangalee culture. It depicts mythological episodes of love and tragedy. Legendary plays of heroism are also popular, particularly in the rural areas. In near past jatra was the biggest entertainment means for the rural Bangalees and in that sense for 80% of the population since the same percentage of the population lived in rural Bangladesh. Now-a-days jatra has been placed in the back seat in the entertainment era. Gradually western culture is occupying the place of traditional culture like jatra. 

Bangladesh : Art Galleries 

Name (Art galleries )

Address

Phone

National Art Gallery 
at Shilpakala Academy

Segun Bagicha, Dhaka. 

-

Bangladesh College of 
Arts and Crafts

Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Dhaka. 

 

Contemporary Arts Ensemble,

48/1, Commercial Building, 
South Avenue, Gulshan. 

 

Saju Art Gallery

F 28 DMC Market, Gulshan, Dhaka. 

-

La Galerie

54 Kamal Ataturk Avenue, Gulshan,Dhaka. 

-

Jiraj Art Gallery

12 Shahbag Shopping Complex, Dhaka, 

-

Haque Art and Crafts

F 36, North DMC Market, Gulshan,

Ph: 606524, 

Yeart Gallery

F 37North DMC Market, Gulshan, Dhaka,

Ph: 606944. 

Shilpangan

House 15, Road 4 Dhanmondi, Dhaka.

Ph: 503431. 

Bangladesh Folk art Gallery

Panam Nagar, Sonargaon. 

-

Galary

21, 765 Satmasjid Road, Dhanmondi, Dhaka.

Ph: 8114716

Bangladesh : Museums

National Museum: Established as Dhaka Museum in 1913. It has been renamed as the National Museum and was shifted to its new building at Shahbag in 1983. It is a four storied building and has forty galleries under four departments, namely.

1. Natural History 

2. History and Classical Art, 

3. Ethnography and Decorative Art and 

4. Contemporary Art and World civilization. 

The museum contains a large number of interesting collection including sculptures and paintings of the Buddhist and Muslim periods, It also has rich collection of gold coins, metal images, books on art, ivory and silver filigree works, textiles including the world famous muslin fabric, embroidered quilt (Nakshi Kantha), arms and ammunitions of the bygone warriors, varieties of fine handicrafts and models of the village and town life, contemporary paintings and sculptures. Above all, the valuable articles of the heroic liberation war of Bangladesh are also there. 

Open : Saturday - Wednesday, 10.00 a.m.- 7.00 p.m. 

Closed : Thursday: 

Entrance Fee : Ta 2.00, Phone: 8619397. 

Folk Art Museum :

The Folk Art Museum was established in 1975 to fulfil the dream of the celebrated painter Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin. The museum has a very rich collection of folk objects of different materials and forms of aesthetic and utilitarian values. These undoubtedly reflect the sentiments, impulse, temperament, moods, idiosyncrasy, skill and expertise of the artists and artisans. It is a national institution, which represents traditional art heritage of Bangladesh, exhibiting objects of exceptional design and skill. 

Open : Saturday - Wednesday, 9.00 a.m - 5.00 p.m. 

Closed : Thursday, Friday & Govt. Holidays. 

Entrance : Free. 

Ethnological Museum :

The Ethnological Museum at Chittagong stands as a milestone in our national progress. It is a place where ample facilities have been provided to carry out ethnological research. This museum is recognized as one of the best-specialized museums in Southeast Asia. It houses objects of 12 different tribes of Bangladesh and also of many tribes of Australia, India and Pakistan.

Entrance fee : Adult Ta 1.00 and children 0.50. 

Archaeological Museums : 

Every place of archaeological importance houses a small archeological museum i.e. at Lalbagh Fort, Mahasthangarh, Paharpur and Mainamati. 

Admission fee to these museums is : Adult Ta 1.00 and children Ta 0.50 

Varendra Museum

Situated at Rajshahi. This museum has a rich collection of objects of Mohenjodaro and also of 16th to l9th century AD. This is devoted to the study of ancient history and culture. Its rich collections contain interesting objects of past Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim heritage. It is located at the heart of Rajshahi town and maintained by Rajshahi University authority. The year of its formal establishment is 1910. 

Tribal Museum :

The only Tribal Cultural Museum in the Hill Tracts region was established at Rangamati town in 1978 and run by the Tribal Cultural Institute. It preserves valuable objects and articles of different tribes depicting their socio economic, cultural and historical tradition. These include typical tribal dresses, ornaments, arms and ammunitions, coins, statues made of wood, bronze and other metals, musical instruments, ivory products, handicrafts, paintings on tribal life etc. 

Open : Saturday - Thursday, 10.00 a.m. - 4.00p.m. 

Closed : Friday & Public Holidays.

Cinema :

Although cinema had always been a popular form of entertainment, it was not until 1956 that the first full-length feature film could he produced in Bangladesh. At present the industry is capable of producing around 60 feature films per year. The Films of Bangladesh display a pattern similar to those of other countries of the subcontinent. The themes range from social and historical to fantasies and fairy-tales. In recent years, there has been a tendency to experiment with the medium; one of the outcomes has been an abundance of popular Short Feature Films. 

To encourage production of quality films, the Government sanctions financial grants and announces national awards for film making.

Bangladesh : Clothing 

Bangladeshi women habitually wear Sarees. Jamdani was once world famous for it's most artistic and expensive ornamental fabric. Moslin, a fine and artistic type of cloth was well-known worldwide. Naksi Kantha, embroidered quilted patchwork cloth produced by the village women, is still familiar in villages and towns simultaneously. A common hairstyle is Beni (twisted bun) that Bangalee women are fond of. Traditionally males wear Panjabis, Fatuas and Pajamas. Hindus wear Dhuty for religious purposes. Now-a-days common dresses of males are shirts and pants.

Government and non-government organizations like Bangla Academy, Nazrul Institute, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Fine arts Institute, Chhayanat etc. play significant role to flourish Bangladeshi art and culture providing encouragement in music, drama, dance, recitation, art etc. Many other cultural organizations are also popularizing Bangladeshi art and culture.