Sunday, August 12, 2012


Holidays in Bangladesh fall under three different calendars: the Islamic calendar, Gregorian calendar, and the Bengali calendar. I've put which calendar each holiday is based on in parentheses after each date. The dates used are for 2012.

Eid-e-Miladun-Nabi. February 5. (Islamic). This is the celebration of the birthday of the prophet Muhammad. He was born on this day in 570 AD, and he also died on the same day in 632 AD. There are programs and special newspaper articles that are printed.

Language Martyrs' Day. February 21. (Gregorian). This is a day that commemorates the Bangla Language Movement. Back in 1952, the government of West Pakistan decided that only Urdu will be the official language (a language that only a small group of upper class Pakistanis spoke). The middle class in East Bengal (or East Pakistan) revolted, and five people were killed before they decided to add Bengali as a secondary language.

Father of the nations birth anniversary. March 17. (Gregorian). In honor of the birthday of its founding father and liberator, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Independence Day. March 26. (Gregorian). Celebrates the declaration of independence from Pakistan, and subsequently the beginning of the Bangladesh Liberation War. Generally, the days starts with a 31-gun salute, flags decorate the streets and businesses, political speeches abound, friends and family get together to spend the day.

Bangla New Year's Day. April 14. (Bengali). This day marks the beginning of the Bengali New Year. Also called Pôhela Boishakh, it's tied strongly to the rural areas. Both the home is scrubbed and everyone is bathed and wear their best traditional clothes. Communities have street fairs with lots of different food, music, plays, puppet shows and merry-go-rounds.

May Day. May 1. (Gregorian). This day is spent much like other countries, celebrating the worker and labor efforts. Labor organizations usually give speeches, and people spend the day with friends and family.

Buddha Purnima. June 4. (Bengali) This is the day that celebrates Buddha's birthday. People will put out national and religious flags and listen to sermons and talks based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha. Many people will read or chant passages from the Tripitaka. People cleanse themselves and visit nearby monasteries for prayers, bringing fruit, flowers, or incense in homage to Buddha. The non-vegetarians will often eat vegetarian for the day.

Krishna Janmashtami. August 9. (Bengali). This is the birthday of Krishna in the Hindu religion. It's celebrated in Bangladesh as well as eastern India. It's believed that Vishnu reincarnated into Lord Krishna on this day. People go to the temples at might and say prayers. A small version of Krishna is placed in a cradle and swung from side to side. Some people fast the entire day.

National Mourning Day. August 15. (Gregorian) This is a day to commemorate the assassination of national leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his entire family by a group of junior Army officers. Flags on government buildings are lowered to half-mast, and prayers are said at temples and mosques.

Jumu'ah-tul-Wida. August 17. (Islamic). This day marks the final Friday of Ramadan, the month of fasting practiced by Muslims. Also known as Friday of Farewell.

Eid ul-Fitr. August 19-21. (Islamic). This is the celebration surrounding the end of Ramadan. This is one of the largest Muslim holidays. There is generally a feast of savory foods to celebrate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Durga Puja. October 24. (Bengali). This marks the day where Durga conquers the evil powers of Mahishasura, as well as the departure of Durga from the planet Earth for a year. This is the largest Hindu festival in Bangladesh. People construct temporary temples all over, from small ones to large ones that are semi-permanent. Some are quite elaborate.

Eid ul-Adha. October 26-28. (Islamic). This holiday celebrates the Muslim festival of sacrifice. It's mandatory to have an animal sacrificed, and the health of the animal, as well as the age of it are very important.

Victory Day. December 16. (Gregorian). This is a day surrounding the surrender of the Pakistani army to the Mukti Bahini. It is a day that commemorates the millions of Bangladeshis who have died as martyrs for their country under the unfair rule under the Pakistanis. The national flag is flown all over the country on this day.

Christmas Day. December 25. (Gregorian). This day celebrates the birth of Jesus in the Christian religion. It's also widely known as Bara Din in Bangladesh (which means "big day"). The churches will have people garher for carols and some are open for feasts to people in the community. People still string up lights and put up Christmas trees. Christmas Eve is spent with family, in the midst of good food and kids opening gifts.

Up next: Art and Literature

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