Society & Culture Bangladesh

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Apart from the obvious religious differences, Bangladesh does not differ markedly from the culture found in the neighboring Indian state of West Bengal. Centuries of isolation, even when foreign powers ruled, have shaped people, customs and values that are typically Bengali in nature. On the surface, Bangladeshis may appear to be abrupt, unsophisticated and at times aggressive, but at heart they are warm, hospitable and exceedingly helpful. If you find yourself in any sort of difficulty in a public place, don’t be surprised by the Bangladeshis who will go out of their way to help you.

More than 80% of the population still lives in rural villages. Even for the city dwellers, there is a strong connection to the ‘home village’. Most of them earn their living from the land, either by farming their own, which is becoming less common as the population increases, or by working for someone else. Rural lives are bounded by dependency: on the elders of the family, on the employer or village patron, or on some other authority figure. Loyalty to the group is an essential cultural value and one that carries over to urban life.

At the core of this group is the extended family, which forms the basis of social and economic life in Bangladesh and remains a cornerstone despite growing urbanization. The head of the household assumes much of the responsibility, and provides for parents, children and other relatives. They all may occupy one house or compound area, and establish separate kitchens as the family grows and more independence is sought. When a son marries, his wife is brought to the family home and assumes the duties outlined by her mother-in-law. The family is a tightly knit group, not only for economic and protective reasons, but as a major center of recreational and social activity.

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