A bride ready for Gaye holud ( yellow turmeric on the body ) A ceremony observed in Bangladesh during marriages - Image by hasiB wahaB

A bride ready for Gaye holud ( yellow turmeric on the body ) A ceremony observed in Bangladesh during marriages - Image by hasiB wahaB


People’s Republic of Bangladesh is the eighth most populated country of the world with an emerging economy located in South Asia. Most of the territories are being dominated by the low-lying Ganges Delta. Commonly known as Bangladesh, has thousands of years old civilization, when the region was inhabited by the ancient DravidianIndo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman and Austro-Asiatic peoples. This region was also known to the then progressive Greeks and Romans and they called it as Gangaridal (Nation of Ganges). The Bengali people rapidly started to accept Islam in the seventh century when Arab merchants and preachers stepped in the region. Bengal was once considered as the richest region of the Indian subcontinent till the16th century.

People of Bangladesh - Image by IRRI Images
People of Bangladesh – Image by IRRI Images

In the eighteenth century when British East India Company was founded in the Indian Sub-continent, the region also passed through the European cultural influences, particularly of the British. In 1947, when partition of India took place, the eastern part of Bengal having Muslim majority became the part of Pakistan and it was named East Pakistan. In 1971, a resistance movement against Pakistan was started and the country gained independence from Pakistan on 16 December 1971. The purpose of describing all this in a very short prolegomenon is to make you understand that Bangladesh has a rich, diverse and glorious cultural heritage having so many historic influences.

Woman setting up a fish net, Bangladesh. Photo by WorldFish, 2006
Woman setting up a fish net, Bangladesh. Photo by WorldFish, 2006

Bangladesh is a land of rivers and streams along the famous Bay of Bengal and the Bangladeshis speak the official language “Bangla”, known as Bengali.  This language is the identical symbol of Bangladeshi heritage and the main social divide prevailing in the country is between Muslims and Hindus.

A woman feeding chickens in Khulna, Bangladesh. Photo by M. Yousuf Tushar. April 18, 2014
A woman feeding chickens in Khulna, Bangladesh. Photo by M. Yousuf Tushar. April 18, 2014

Most of the people have rural background and the countryside factor dominates the culture of Bangladesh. Rice and fish are the compulsory items of the daily food of Bangladeshis.

The most famous festivals of Bangladesh are Eids, Shab-e-Qadr (the night of power), Eid Milad un-Nabi (birth date of the Prophet Mohammad S.A.W) and Shab-e-Barat (the night of fortune). Image by mariusz kluzniak
The most famous festivals of Bangladesh are Eids, Shab-e-Qadr (the night of power), Eid Milad un-Nabi (birth date of the Prophet Mohammad S.A.W) and Shab-e-Barat (the night of fortune). Image by mariusz kluzniak

The most famous festivals of Bangladesh are Eids, Shab-e-Qadr (the night of power), Eid Milad un-Nabi (birth date of the Prophet Mohammad S.A.W) and Shab-e-Barat (the night of fortune). The Hindu community in Bangladesh also eulogizes their festivals like Durga Puja and Kali Puja (community worshipping of Goddess Durga and Kali). Other minorities also passionately observe their respective religious occasions and festivities.

Traditional dress of Bangladesh is awesome in its nature and kind and - Image by Marufish
Traditional dress of Bangladesh is awesome in its nature and kind and – Image by Marufish

Traditional dress of Bangladesh is awesome in its nature and kind and somehow it is also unique as compare to other neighboring countries. Bangladeshi men are normally seen in traditional Kurta, Fatua and Shalwar Kameez in formal wear. In the rural areas, the Bangladeshi men love to wear traditional Lungi or Dhoti (dhuti) as casual attire. Along the other side, the Bangladeshi women have trend to dress up in the traditional Sharee (Sari or Saree) or Shalwar Kamees.

the Bangladeshi women have trend to dress up in the traditional Sharee (Sari or Saree) - Image by v i p e z
the Bangladeshi women have trend to dress up in the traditional Sharee (Sari or Saree) – Image by v i p e z

Sari or Saree is the most popular dress for the Bangladeshi women. The usual length of Sari is about 4 to 9 meters and it is dressed up with a blouse or pullover which is locally known as Choli. Usually, one side of Saree has beautiful border decorated with embroidery which is draped around the shoulder. The other side is adorned around the blouse or Choli. In the ancient times Sarees were decorated with gold or silver embroideries and in the modern times Sarees are prepared with artificial and automated designs, patterns and silk threads.

Sari or Saree is the most popular dress for the Bangladeshi women. Photo by masud ananda
Sari or Saree is the most popular dress for the Bangladeshi women. Photo by masud ananda

Shalwar Kameez or Shalwar Qameez is a long outfit which normally goes below the knees and is equally popular in Bangladeshi women. Shalwar Kameez is generally considered as an easy and comfortable costume comparing to Sari or Saree. The Shalwar is comparatively easier to carry out so this dress is preferred and is a favorite among the younger generation. On the festive occasions, Bangladeshi women love to wear Shalwar Kameez that are often enriched with beads, threads and zari work.

In the modern times Sarees are prepared with artificial and automated designs, patterns and silk threads. Photo: Aminul Islam Sajib
In the modern times Sarees are prepared with artificial and automated designs, patterns and silk threads. Photo: Aminul Islam Sajib

Wedding in Bangladesh is an event full of rituals and festivities which sometimes may last for several days. Different types of formal dresses are prepared with zeal and enthusiast by the Bangladeshi women for the participation in the marriage ceremonies.

A bride ready for Gaye holud ( yellow turmeric on the body ) A ceremony observed in Bangladesh during marriages - Image by hasiB wahaB
A bride ready for Gaye holud ( yellow turmeric on the body ) A ceremony observed in Bangladesh during marriages – Image by hasiB wahaB

Usually on the first day of wedding “Gaye Haloud” ceremony takes place. Special yellow colored costumes are prepared for this event. On this day, the bride, her family, and the groom’s family all gather together and celebrate the bride. The turmeric paste is applied to the bride’s skin to soften her skin and also to colorize her in the distinctive yellow hue that gives its name to this ceremony. Some families also celebrate mehendi “a henna decoration ceremony” in which typical Mehndi outfits are worn by bride and other women.

Beautiful Smiling Bride wearing traditional Saree - Bangladesh. Image by MD. Hasibul Haque Sakib
Beautiful Smiling Bride wearing traditional Saree – Bangladesh. Image by MD. Hasibul Haque Sakib

On the wedding day, the Bangladeshi bride is dressed up in a bright, colorful and traditionally red costume along with magnificent jewelry. On the other side, the groom also wears a unique but elegant dress along with a turban-style hat. One popular trend right now is the bridal katan, which is a very traditional wedding saree. Katan sarees have a silky base with gold or silver zari work all over the saree. Brides often wear multiple heavy gold necklaces, big earrings, head jewelry, and lots of gold bangles.

Lehenga Choli or Ghagra Choli is normally prepared with heavy embroideries and spectacular designs.
Lehenga Choli or Ghagra Choli is normally prepared with heavy embroideries and spectacular designs.

Some Bangladeshi brides prefer to wear Lehenga Choli or Ghagra Choli on their wedding day which is normally available in different reddish shade. The blouse which is used with Lehenga Choli is normally having a deep “V” cut neck and another connected outfit is known as “Dubatta” which is prepared with netted embellishments. Lehenga Choli or Ghagra Choli is normally prepared with heavy embroideries and spectacular designs. This costume is not only worn by the bride but some female wedding guests are also dressed up in this formal outfit.

Katan sarees have a silky base with gold or silver zari work all over the saree
Katan sarees have a silky base with gold or silver zari work all over the saree

The bride’s family then gifts the groom with the wedding attire, which includes a ‘jore’ (silk shawl), ‘dhoti’ and ‘topor’, a headdress made of pith and zari. The groom must wear these items for the duration of the wedding rituals.

Wonderful floral makeup and jewelry, and pretty eyes - Image by Luis Rodero-Merino
Wonderful floral makeup and jewelry, and pretty eyes – Image by Luis Rodero-Merino

Ful shôjja or Phul Shujja is the celebration of consummation night in which the bed is prepared with lots of flowers. The bride wears a lot of floral ornaments that add the beauty in her appearance in a pure traditional style.

Traditional costumes - Bangali Lungi
Traditional costumes – Bangali Lungi

As the heat and humidity are permanent features of Bangladeshi climate, a light fabric known as “Lungi” is the favorite choice of Bangladeshi men which is normally sewn into a tube shape like a skirt. As mentioned earlier, spectacular tartan cotton, batik, or silk lungis are also often presented as wedding gifts to the groom in a Bangladeshi wedding.

Panjabi dress - Short version of Kurta - Photo by Tasfin Atiq
Panjabi dress – Short version of Kurta – Photo by Tasfin Atiq

The combination of the traditional male lungi and kurta is also called Punjabi or Panjabi. Men also wear the Fanjabi, or ‘Kabuli‘ which is a name that refers to the Salwar Kameez. A shorter version of Kurta is known as Fatua which is also in fashion in Bangladesh, particularly in the youth.

In some regions of Bangladesh, Dhoti or Dhuti is equally popular in men - Dhoti by Wonderlane
In some regions of Bangladesh, Dhoti or Dhuti is equally popular in men – Dhoti by Wonderlane

In some regions of Bangladesh, Dhoti or Dhuti is equally popular in men, which is usually white or cream in colour. This garment is worn at all cultural occasions and traditional ceremonies. Cotton dhotis suit the climatic conditions in the country for daily usage.

Portrait of a traditional Bangladeshi old-man - Photo: Rajiv Ashrafi
Portrait of a traditional Bangladeshi old-man – Photo: Rajiv Ashrafi

In the nutshell, traditional dress of Bangladesh which is indeed so awesome in its nature and kind is a phenomenal part of Bangladeshi culture and heritage. It overall reflexes the assimilated influences of different civilizations, religions and customs.

A traditional fish farmer, Bangladesh. Photo by WorldFish, 2007
A traditional fish farmer, Bangladesh. Photo by WorldFish, 2007

For more interesting posts with the same subject on the Lovely Planet Website, please click the following links;

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2-    Traditional Dress Of Serbia
3-    Traditional Dress Of Kosovo
4-    Traditional Dress Of Libya
5-    Traditional Dress Of Morocco
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