“Muslim” Bangladesh Celebrates “Hindu” Durga Puja

Contrary to rumor mongering that Hindus in Bangladesh live under fear and repression, they celebrate their big religious festival Durga Puja with fanfare and freedom.

Many people have this idea that Bangladesh has turned into a fanatic Islamic country, and therefore, Hindus are in a miserable shape there. Of course, most of these people with such ideas base their information on rumors, hearsay, and political propaganda aided by a certain brand of media — as opposed to first-hand knowledge or experience. But these days, ideas are cheap and easily available, and education is hard labor that nobody wants to undertake. So, lies and rumors spread like wildfire, unopposed. And more fanaticism, hate and violence follow.

It is true that since the British-inflicted arbitrary partition of Bengal in 1947, followed by enormous misery, poverty and bloodshed, a large number of Hindus left then East Bengal and migrated to the Indian side of West Bengal (and other parts of India) — resulting in a rapid shrinkage of Hindu population in the land now known as Bangladesh. A thriving 25-30 percent of East Bengal’s Hindu population came down to a small 5-7 percent in the past seventy years. Hindus migrated even more since after the bloody liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971, to flee from social, political and economic turmoil.

Still, the fact remains that in spite of being an impoverished nation with an explosive population growth, Bangladesh still has a thriving Hindu population; some estimates are that the number of Hindus actually went up to 10-12 percent over the years. And in a country of 160 million, that constitutes about 16 million people — not a small number at all. And in these festive times, all across Bangladesh, Hindus celebrate one of their biggest socio-religious festivals.

According to media and eye witness reports, this year Bangladesh celebrates over 32,000 community pujas (religious observance) that include many traditional family pujas. Some of these family pujas have been in existence for hundreds of years, and saw the glorious, prosperous eras of Bengal’s civilization.

In this brief report, I include a few of the eye-witness accounts I have received from friends in Bangladesh. I have neither heard of any violence on the pujas from the Muslim community (except for one of two rumors that were debunked), nor have I heard of any government clamp-down on them. Hindus of Bangladesh, however small in size, are not in a miserable shape contrary to what the rumor-mongers spread.
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(1) “বাংলাদেশের এ বছরের দুর্গোৎসব। কলাবাগানের পুজোমণ্ডপের ভিডিও। মনোমুগ্ধকর পুজোমণ্ডপ। হিন্দু বাঙালিরা আনন্দে উদ্বেলিত। জনসমাগম কলকাতার কোনো পুজোমণ্ডপ থেকে কোনো অংশে কম নয়।” Video report by Anirban Banerjee from Dhanmandi, Kalabagan in the city of Dhaka at https://www.facebook.com/100036779585602/videos/147806279788691/?t=29

(2) Puja at the historic Dhakeshwari Temple. Video report from Murshid Ale at https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DEyqt_TFxt1Y%26feature%3Dshare%26fbclid%3DIwAR1LTbGdf9hvLqxI4-wLZAo4VQBcRr5WK_2suOuDzG5YLs2brpvk-zoMoJQ&h=AT0xAeijAgXSmav-L0byTQ2ihC7VBWHRJjdWVlCqR0y1Kdgk41r4Fw1-PnTt55em9-aLrhwJWlhAIKzkoMKnoK8XSaE4_YnrZVeDHbFzP9DNwS0JUIBDKyUs5rFYZHvyveab-ac

(3) Another video sent by Zubayer Hassan at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMn8zKM7bM0&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR2_bBxIEtLaVuj4h9Vej2pA9kWewbnwt-cuxSPWiaanyuiV5o3DMqGDN8I

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