Writer: Ziaul Haque Howlader, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation
Bangladesh, a fascinating land constantly mesmerizes you and creates your real life. "Life Happens Here"; at every inch of this land allures you with many interests. Bangladesh - a treasure trove of vibrant living culture and heritages - beacons tourists to find their vibes of life. After a long nine-month war, we achieved our independence in 1971. Independence from the dominance of the then West Pakistan under the greatest leadership of the Father of the Nation -Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the supreme achievement of the Bengali nation. Our independence is our pride, our heritage. Bangabandhu, the greatest person of all times of Bengali's history is our legend. The historic 7th March speech of the Father of the Nation is a UNESCO designated documented heritage. The 21 February of 1952, the historic mother language movement has already been declared as the International Mother Language Day. The historic movement from '52 to '71 is our heritage. Our independence reflects the root of our own culture. Dhaka - the capital of Bangladesh is known as the city of mosque and muslin - has been declared this year by OIC as the city of Tourism.
There is story in every page of our history to let the world know. The struggling and resilient people of Bangladesh created many histories. Bangladesh is a land of religious harmony. People of all religions live here in a great harmony and peace that is the strength of our culture. One of the fundamental principles of our liberation war is Secularism.
History unravels that Bangladesh has been the cradle of civilization, a centre of cultural diffusion, since the dawn of history of humankind. It was the meeting ground of various peoples in different states of civilization, the most primitive as well as the most advanced. The cultural history of Bangladesh is one of the greatest and glorious heritages, which every Bangladeshi is legitimately proud of. Each phase of the history of Bangladesh has its distinct characteristics and every race of people who came and settled here, left its individual racial, religious or cultural impacts in the form of temples, stupas, monasteries and mosque along with their associated objects.
Bangladesh is a country of diverse attractions, bountiful nature and friendly millions with more than a millennium of cultural heritage. The landscape of Bangladesh looks like a magical tapestry in green woven intricately by nature crisscrossed by a network of several major rivers and their numerous tributaries and canals. In fact, Bangladesh is the largest riverine delta in the world. The extensive river systems are, thus, fundamental to the country's economy and the people's way of life.
The Bengalees are fun and festival loving people. They celebrate a hundred of big and small traditional festivals round the year. Bengali New Year celebration (Pahela Baishakh), which falls on 14th and 15th April of Georgian calendar, is the largest one. To celebrate the day millions of people wearing traditional dress irrespective of religion, age, gender, caste and profession throng at Ramna Park from very early in the morning. Men clad in colourful Punjai, Dhooti, Pyjama and women clolourful Saree and kids Fatwa throng at Ramna. People eat panta bath (watery rice), Hilsha Bhaja (fry) and different items of jhal Barta (hot smashes). Dhaka becomes a colourful city and it takes a festive mood. Different kinds of mancha (dais) are erected with different caption, signs and logos of Pahela Baishakh in different areas of Dhaka to render folk songs, Nazrul Sangeet, Rabindra Snageet marking the day. The main craving attraction of the celebration is bringing out rally with thousands of people welcoming the New Year. The rally starts from Art Institute of Dhaka University. Different kinds of masks and colourful placards and ballon are hoisted. Every year there is a theme. Noting the significance of Pahela baishakh, the UNESCO has also designated Mongol Shovajatra as an intangible world heritage.
In Bangladesh, the Cultural landmarks of antiquity range from the 3rd century B.C. to the 19th A.D. The total enumeration of archaeological heritage sites in the country is not yet complete but the survey in four divisions i.e., Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Dhaka indicates that the number of sites of various nature and dimensions are more than two thousand. So far, 417 have been declared as protected archaeological sites for which Department of Archaeology is supposed to preserve and promote. Of them about 30% are cultural mounds. The latter two categories include city site, palace, port, bridge, road, monastery, temple, mosque, tomb, fort, inns etc. Notable of them are Mahasthagarh and Pundranagar in Bogra district, Mainamati in Comilla district, 60-domed mosque (a UNESCO designated World Heriatge Site in Bagerhat district, Wari-Bateswar in Narsingdi District, Panam City in Narayanganj, Tajhat Zamindar Bari in Rangpur, Paharpur Monastery ( also a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site) in Naogaon district, Kantaji Temple in Dinajpur District, Lalbag Fort in Dhaka, etc.
Bangladesh is literally a multi-faced cultural collage. Its deep-rooted heritage is amply reflected in its architecture, literature, dance, drama, music and painting. Influenced by great religion-Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity- Bangladesh has been a melting pot of diverse races and confluence of civilizations. Sculpture, tapestry, engravings are developing along the main stream contemporary art, drama, mainly of indigenous origin, has distinct feature. Pantomime, puppet, theatre, caricature, acrobatics and circuses have their own novelties. Music in Bangladesh has developed through centuries along the three mainstreams-folk, modern and classical. Folk, Tribal and Classical are the prominent forms of dances.
Fairs and festivals, both religious and social always play a significant role in the life of the people of Bangladesh. Bengali New Year's Day, Independence Day, National Martyr's Day- the International Mother Language Day, Eid-ul-fitr, Eid-ul Azha, Durga Puja, Christmas Day, Buddha Purnima are a few of such occasions to mention. Beside these, various fairs and exhibitions are held throughout the country round the year.
The whole Bangladesh is famous for arts and crafts. Bangladesh has developed some special areas like Dhamrai, Comilla, Sonargaon, Rajshahi, which are famous for local arts and crafts. Government has taken some institutional measures for developing and marketing different sorts of visual arts and crafts. Traditional dance, music and drama performances of Bangladesh are also of much interest to many tourists. There are also institutional training programmes in Bangladesh to ensure high quality levels of the performances.
Bangladesh is one of the most diverse nations in the South Asia region having huge potential for tourism development. The country also constitutes the largest deltaic formation of the world as three mighty rivers flow through this land making the country ideal for nature-based tourism. The tranquil lifestyle of the inhabitants of the riverbanks, isolated islands, diverse fauna and flora and rich cultural heritage are the prime products for the world tourism market. Bangladesh is a combination of verdant forests, riverine countryside and long stretches of sun-bathed beaches, fearsome wilds, meandering rivers and venerable shrines. Bordering the mighty Bay of Bengal stands this magical tapestry in green with all the glory of its past and the splendid colours of its natural present. Bangladesh is always ready to welcome tourists from any corner of the world with millions of unbound smiling faces. Please visit Bangladesh -a land of wonder -to rejuvenate yourself with profoundly genuine service.