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The culture of Bengal encompasses the Bengal region in South Asia, including

Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam (Barak Valley),
where the Bengali language is the official and primary language. Bengal has a
recorded history of 4,000 years.[1] The Bengali people are its dominant
ethnolinguistic community. The region has been a historical melting pot, blending
indigenous traditions with cosmopolitan influences from pan-Indian subcontinental
empires. Bengal was the richest part of Medieval India and hosted the
subcontinent's most advanced political and cultural centers during the British Raj.

The partition of Bengal left its own cultural legacy. Bangladesh is the scene of a
dominant Bengali Muslim culture, whereas Indian Bengali-speaking regions have a
Bengali Hindu majority. It must be noted that Muslim-majority Bangladesh is home to
a significant Hindu minority, whereas West Bengal has a large Muslim minority.
Apart from these, there are also numerous ethnic and religious minorities. Kolkata,
the capital of West Bengal, is a cosmopolitan city which houses sizeable number of
ethnic communities. Bengal is an important hub of classical South Asian arts.
Festivals on the secular Bengali calendar are widely celebrated.

Contents [hide]
1 Literature
2 Philosophy
3 Music
4 Theatre
5 Dance
6 Painting
7 Architecture
8 Textiles
9 Clothing
10 Sculpture
11 Transport
12 Cuisine
13 Cinema
14 Weddings
15 Festivals
16 Sports
17 Media
18 See also
19 Notes
Main articles: Bengali literature and Bengali poetry

Rabindranath Tagore

Kazi Nazrul Islam

Bengal has one of the most developed literary traditions in Asia. A descent of
ancient Sanskrit and Magadhi Prakrit, the Bengali language evolved circa 1000-1200
CE under the Pala Empire and the Sena dynasty. It became an official court language
of the Sultanate of Bengal and absorbed influences from Arabic and Persian. Middle
Bengali developed secular literature in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was also
spoken in Arakan. The Bengali renaissance in Calcutta developed the modern
standardized form of the language in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Rabindranath Tagore became the first Bengali writer to win the Nobel Prize in
Literature in 1913, and was also the first non-European Nobel laureate. Kazi Nazrul
Islam became known as the Rebel Poet of British India. After the partition of
Bengal, a distinct literary culture developed in East Bengal, which later became
East Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Jasimuddin Polli Kobi (the rural poet)
The works of ancient philosophers from Bengal have been preserved at libraries in
Tibet, China and Central Asia. These include the works of Atisa and Tilopa.[2]
Medieval Hindu philosophy featured the works of Chaitanya.

Sufi philosophy was highly influential in Islamic Bengal. Prominent Sufi

practitioners were disciples of Jalaluddin Rumi, Abdul-Qadir Gilani and Moinuddin
Chishti. One of the most revered Sufi saints of Bengal is Shah Jalal.

See also: Music of West Bengal and Music of Bangladesh

Ravi Shankar

A Bangladeshi rock band

Bauls in a village
Bengal has produced leading figures of Indian classical music, including Alauddin
Khan, Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan. Common musical instruments include the
sitar, tabla and sarod. The Baul tradition is a unique regional folk heritage. The
most prominent practitioner was Lalon Shah. Other folk music forms include
Gombhira, Bhatiali and Bhawaiya (Jhumur). Folk music in Bengal is often accompanied
by the ektara, a one-stringed instrument. Other instruments include the dotara,
dhol, bamboo flute, and tabla. Songs written by Rabindranath Tagore (Rabindra
Sangeet) and Kazi Nazrul Islam (Nazrul geeti) are highly popular. Bangladesh is the
center of Bangla rock, as well as indie, Sufi rock and fusion folk music.

See also: Theatre in Bangladesh
Bengali theater traces its roots to Sanskrit drama under the Gupta Empire in the
4th century CE. It includes narrative forms, song and dance forms, supra-personae
forms, performance with scroll paintings, puppet theatre and the processional forms
like the Jatra.

See also: Gaudiya Nritya and Chhau dance
Bengal has an extremely rich heritage of dancing dating back to antiquity. It
includes classical, folk and martial dance traditions.[3][4]

See also: List of Bangladeshi painters

A Kalighat painting describing a scene from Manasamangal Kavya

Bharat Mata by Abanindranath Tagore

In antiquity, Bengal was a pioneer of painting in Asia under the Pala Empire.
Miniature and scroll painting flourished during the Mughal Empire. Kalighat
painting or Kalighat Pat originated in the 19th century Bengal, in the vicinity of
Kalighat Kali Temple of Kolkata, and from being items of souvenir taken by the
visitors to the Kali temple, the paintings over a period of time developed as a
distinct school of Indian painting. From the depiction of Hindu gods other
mythological characters, the Kalighat paintings developed to reflect a variety of

Modern painting emerged in Calcutta with the Bengal school. East Pakistan developed
its own contemporary painting tradition under Zainul Abedin. Modern Bangladeshi art
has produced many of South Asia's leading painters, including SM Sultan, Mohammad
Kibria, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, Kafil Ahmed, Saifuddin Ahmed,
Qayyum Chowdhury, Rashid Choudhury, Quamrul Hassan, Rafiqun Nabi and Syed Jahangir
among others.

See also: Bengali architecture and Architecture of Bangladesh

Shyamrai temple at Bishnupur

Adina Mosque

The Shiva Temple at Puthia

Victoria memorial hall in Kolkata

The earliest fortified cities in the region include Wari-Bateshwar, Chandraketugarh
and Mahasthangarh. Bengal has a glorious legacy of terracotta architecture from the
ancient and medieval periods. The style includes many mosques, temples, palaces,
forts, monasteries and caravanserais. Mughal Dhaka was known as the City of Mosques
and the Venice of the East. Indo-Saracenic architecture flourished during the
British period, particularly among the landed gentry. British Calcutta was known as
the City of Palaces. Modernist terracotta architecture in South Asia by architects
like Muzharul Islam and Louis Kahn.

Bengali village housing is noted as the origin of the bungalow.

See also: Textile arts of Bangladesh

Kantha, a Bengali cotton textile

Muslin production in Bengal dates back to the 4th century BCE. The region exported
the fabric to Ancient Greece and Rome.[5]

Bengali silk was known as Ganges Silk in the 13th century Republic of Venice.[6]
Mughal Bengal was a major silk exporter. The Bengali silk industry declined after
the growth of Japanese silk production. Rajshahi silk continues to be produced in
northern Bangladesh. Murshidabad and Malda are the centers of the silk industry in
West Bengal.

After the reopening of European trade with medieval India, Mughal Bengal became the
world's foremost muslin exporter in the 17th century. Mughal-era Dhaka was a center
of the worldwide muslin trade.

The weaving of Jamdani muslin saris in Bangladesh are classified by UNESCO as

intangible cultural heritage.

Modern Bangladesh is one of the world's largest textile producers, with a large
cotton based ready made garments industry.


Bengali couple performing 'Nomoshkar' gesture in traditional attire.

Bengali women commonly wear the shari (sari), often distinctly designed according
to local cultural customs. In urban areas, many women and men wear Western-style
attire. Men also wear traditional costumes such as the panjabi with dhuti. As time
goes by the lungi, a variant of the sarong, has replaced the dhuti, and now lungi
is widely worn by Bangladeshi men.

Bengal has produced several of South Asia's leading fashion designers, including
Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Bibi Russell and Rina Latif.
Ancient Bengal was home to the Pala-Sena school of Sculptural Art.[5] Ivory
sculptural art flourished across the region under the Nawabs of Bengal. Notable
modernist sculptors include Novera Ahmed and Nitun Kundu.

See also: Kolkata tram
See also: Rickshaw art in Bangladesh
See also: Country boats in Bangladesh and Shipbuilding in Bangladesh

A tram in a street of Kolkata

A cycle rickshaw in Sonargaon

Kolkata is a city which have a rich heritage for having its own transport system.
It is the only city in India to have a tram network. The trams are claimed to slow
down other traffic, leading to groups who currently voice abolishing the trams,
though the environment-friendliness and the old charm of the trams attract many

Kolkata was also the first city in South Asia to have an underground railway system
that started operating from 1984. It is considered to have the status of a zonal
railway. The Metro is a very well maintained and clean system. The metered-cabs are
mostly of the brand "Ambassador" manufactured by Hindustan Motors (now out of
production). These taxis are painted with yellow colour, symbolising the transport
tradition of Kolkata.

Bangladesh has the world's largest number of cycle rickshaws. Its capital city
Dhaka is known as the Rickshaw Capital of the World. The country's rickshaws
display colorful rickshaw art, with each city and region have their own distinct
style. Rickshaw driving provides employment for nearly a million Bangladeshis.
Historically, Kolkata has been home to the hand-pulled rickshaw. Attempts to ban
its use have largely failed.

There are 150 different types of boats and canoes in Bengal. The region was
renowned for shipbuilding in the medieval period, when its shipyards catered to
major powers in Eurasia, including the Mughals and Ottomans. The types of timber
used in boat making are from local woods Jarul (dipterocarpus turbinatus), sal
(shorea robusta), sundari (heritiera fomes) and Burma teak (tectons grandis).

Main article: Bengali cuisine

Various Bengali fish and seafood served with rice and dessert
Bengali cuisine is one of the most extensively developed in Asia. It is notable for
its widespread use of freshwater fish and seafood. Bangladeshi cuisine includes
greater meat consumption, including beef, duck, chicken, mutton, squab and venison.
Indian Bengali cuisine is highly non-vegetarian, with consumption of chicken,
mutton, egg and pork is also common whereas beef is taboo due to the predominance
of Hindu culture. The region is also noted for its vast spread of desserts, sweets
and confectionery.

Main articles: Cinema of Bangladesh and Cinema of West Bengal
Kolkata and Dhaka are the centers of Bengali cinema. The region's film industry is
notable for history of art films in South Asia, including the works of Academy
Award winning director Satyajit Ray and the Cannes Film Festival award winning
director Tareque Masud.

Bengali Muslim bride and groom

Bengali Hindu wedding

Main articles: Bengali wedding and Weddings in India
Bengali weddings includes many rituals and ceremonies that can span several days.
Although Muslim and Hindu marriages have their distinctive religious rituals, there
are many common secular rituals.[7][8] The Gaye Holud ceremony is held in Bengali
weddings of all faiths.

While there are significant cultural differences between West and East Bengal,
Calcutta offers a place for these two branches of Bengal to mix. Arranged marriages
are common, but the process is quite different to what people usually think of when
you hear the term 'arranged marriage'. The couple are merely introduced to each
other, and can move on if they do not feel a lifelong union between them will work.

Both Bangladesh and Bengal have many festivals and fairs throughout the year.

Muslim Hindu Buddhist Christian Secular

Eid al-Fitr Durga Puja Buddha Purnima Christmas Pohela Boishakh (New Year/
Eid al-Adha Kali Puja Madhu Purnima Easter Bosonto Utsob (Spring
Muharram Saraswati Puja Nabanna (Harvest Festival)
Milad un Nabi Dolyatra (Holi) Poush Sangkranti (Winter Festival)
Shab-e-Barat Rath Yatra Kolkata Book Fair
Ramadan Janmashtami Bhasha Dibas
Laylat al-Qadr Jagaddhatri Puja Kolkata Film Festival
Bishwa Ijtema Ganga Sagar Mela Dhaka Art Summit

Eid prayer in Comilla

Colorful Shindur khela in Durga Puja at Kolkata

Colorful celebration of Pohela Boishakh in Dhaka

Bashanto Utsav festival

Cricket and football are popular sports in the Bengal region. Dhaka and Chittagong
are home to some of the most renowned football clubs in South Asia and are
prominent venues for international cricket. Kolkata is one of the major centers for
football in India. Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Tamim
Iqbal from Bangladesh and Pankaj Roy, Sourav Ganguly, Manoj Tiwary, Wriddhiman
Saha, from West Bengal are internationally known cricketers .[9] Local games
include sports such as Kho Kho and Kabaddi, the latter being the national sport of

Bangladesh's Prothom Alo is the largest circulated Bengali newspaper in the world.
It is followed by Ananda Bazar Patrika, which has the largest circulation for a
single-edition, regional language newspaper in India. Other prominent Bengali
newspapers include the Ittefaq, Jugantor, Samakal, Janakantha and Bartaman. Major
English-language newspapers in Bangladesh include the The Daily Star, New Age, and
the weekly Holiday. The Statesman, published from Kolkata, is the region's oldest
English-language publication.

See also[edit]
Culture of India
Culture of Bangladesh
^ Jump up to: a b Minahan, James B. (2012). Ethnic Groups of South Asia and the
Pacific: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781598846607.
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Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of
Jump up ^ Hasan, Sheikh Mehedi (2012). "Dance". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A.
Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of
Jump up ^ Ahmed, Wakil (2012). "Folk Dances". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A.
Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of
^ Jump up to: a b Snodgrass, Mary Ellen (2015). World Clothing and Fashion: An
Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Social Influence. Routledge. ISBN
Jump up ^ Van Schendel, Willem (2012). "Silk". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A.
Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of
Jump up ^ "Bengali Wedding Rituals - A Traditional Bengali Marriage Cere