Roadside snack, Balushi


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Tripuran tribal women, Bandarban

Fire eating, New Year


Rainy season sport Hadudu

Preparing Kite fighting festival, New Year

Seasonal fruit

When to travel?

In the days of sail, including those of the famous, 'fishing fleet', of young British women heading to these lands of opportunity, to, 'hook' an eligible associate of the East India Company, the monsoon winds in the Southern and Indian Oceans generally dictated times to head towards the lands that are now Bangladesh.

Throughout the centuries, whether travelling by land, sea, roads (the Grand Trunk Road, originally built across north Indian subcontinent about 300 BCE, eventually reaching from Kabul in the west, to Chittagong, in Bangladesh, in the east!) or by air, the monsoon seasons of the region are certainly worth considering by the adventurous, cultural, traveller!

These days, the monsoon, with its wind and rain, may not effect international travel, but it can make internal travel, sometimes, a little uncomfortable. However, since the 'monsoon months' of July through September, sometimes commencing earlier, and lingering later, are also 'Mango months', in which this delicious fruit ripens, with over a thousand indigenous varieties, there are definite compensations for some travel discomfort.

Because both monsoon rains, and the arrival of the meltwaters of Himalayan snow..diminishing, these days, due to extensive robbing of the waters for economic development in India, can also flood huge tracts of land, creating great aquatic vistas, local scenery of the deltaic lands, and basins of the three great rivers, the Ganges, known in Bangladesh as Padma, the holy Brahmaputra, now mostly the waters of the great Jamuna River, and the Meghna, are considerably enhanced.

The season brings other benefits, quite apart from crops of a wide variety of delicious fruits, without access to agricultural lands, the rural communities create their own challenges. Spectacular boat racing, comparable with the best of South East Asian Dragon Boat racing, derived from the historic use of fast craft by both administrative and military purposes, is certainly amongst the most appealing. But such as bullock cart and horse racing and an ancient tradition of Mughal wrestling, vie for local attention with mud football, and, where patches of dry ground can be found, village cricket...that fuels the rising achievements of the national Test team!

Winter season, and Spring, also bring the pleasure of colourful festivals; Poila Boishakh, at the beginning of April celebrates the arrival of Spring, marking the traditional Bengali New Year; and such as the famous Dhaka New Year festival of Kite Fighting, celebrated, also, at night, with Fire Eating, echoes ancient traditions in Dhaka, 'The City of Palaces'.

And then, there are the great religious festivals; Ramadan, the month of fasting in the Muslim calendar, is marked by the massive displayes of traditional foods to end the daily fast as the sunsets...and the tradition of gifts of clothing at Eid, the end of the month, ensures extravagant displays of fabrics and locally made garments.

Durga Puja, one of the many Hindu festivals, is, certainly , the most celebrated, dramatically and colourfully, in Bangladesh, though the 'Festival of Light', Diwali, on the fourth day of the Hindu New Year, vies for conspicuous drama. Buddhist traditions, a thousand years ago ruling these lands in which the faith group developed more than two thousand years ago, offer their own colouful and very social celebrations, not, of course, to forget the small Christian population in this nation of great diversity, and their celebration, also shared with most, of such as Christmas time..

This historic diversity, which also includes Animist and Shamanic traditions, ensures both a warm, and even spectacular, welcome to all. Not for nothing have the peoples of Bangladesh acquired a reputation for hospitality, a reputation that, surely, reaches back into the earliest times of welcoming international merchants and traders, millennia ago.

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