Reflecting the long history of the region, Bangladesh has a culture that encompassed elements both old and new. Bengali (Bangla) is the official language of Bangladesh. English is widely used in education and business. Bengali is spoken now by around 300 million people throughout the world. The Bengali language boasts a rich literary heritage, which Bangladesh shares with the Indian state of West Bengal. The earliest literary text in Bengali is the 8th centenary Charyapada. Medieval Bengali literature was often either religious (e.g. Alaol). Bengali literature reached its full expression in the nineteenth century, with its great icon being poet Rabindranath Tagore. Bangladesh also has a long tradition in folk literature, for example Maimansingha Gitika, Thakurmar Jhuli and stories related to Gopal Bhar. Other pioneers of Modern Bengali literature are Kazi Nazrul Islam, Michael Madhusudan Datta, Sarat Chandra Chattopaddhai, Bankim Chandra Chattopaddhai and Jasimuddin.
Music in Bangladesh can be divided into three distinct categories-classical, folk and modern. Classical music –both vocal and instrumental, is rooted in the sub-continental tradition refined during early Turkic rule in the sub-Himalayan region. Folk music, nurtured through the ages by village-poets and mendicants are rich in devotional mysticism and love-lore. Modern Bengali Music has blended Western and Middle-eastern traits with traditional forms. Contemporary music and orchestration has a marked influence of the West. Institutions like Shilpakala Academy, Nazrul Academy and the Chhayanaut have played prominent roles in the practice and popularization of various musical genres in the country.
The musical tradition of Bangladesh is lyrics-based, with minimal instrumental accompaniment. The Baul tradition is a unique heritage of Bengali folk music, and there are numerous other musical traditions in Bangladesh, varying from one region to region. Gombhira, Bhatiali, Bhawaiya are a few of the better-known musical forms. Folk music of Bengal is often accompanied by the ektara, an instrument with only one string. Other instruments include the dotara, dhol, flute, and tabla. Similarly, Bangladesh dance forms draw from folk traditions, especially those of the tribal groups, as well as Bharat Natyam, Kathak, Odissi, Manipuri etc.
Bangladesh has a rich tradition of visual arts. Specimens of ancient terracotta and pottery show remarkable artistry. Modern painting was pioneered by artists like Zainul Abedin, Kamrul Hasan, S M Sultan and Shafiuddin Ahmed. Alongside painting, sculpture, tapestry and engravings have also attracted attention of art connoisseurs in recent years.
Theatre is an old tradition of Bangladesh. Open air rural operetta –known as ‘Jatra’, depicting mythological episodes, love-lore and acts of heroism is an old form that is staged mostly in the villages. Modern theatre, which had their beginning in the British period have become popular with group theatres providing serious entertainment, especially in urban centres.
It was not until 1956 that the first full-length feature film was produced in Bangladesh. At present the industry is capable of producing around 80 feature films per year. The films of Bangladesh display an entertainment pattern similar to those of other countries of the sub-continent. The themes range from social and historical ones to fantasies and thrillers. There have also been many ventures in the area of art-films. Of late ther has been an abundance of short experimental feature films and documentaries.
Around 200 daily newspapers are published in Bangladesh, along with more than 1800 periodicals. Bangladeshis listen to a variety of local and national radio programmes from Bangladesh Beter, as well as four Private FM radio channels which are popular. Also, there are the Bengali services of Radio from the BBC and Voice of America. The main television channel is the state-owned Bangladesh Television, but in the last few years, privately owned channels have developed considerably.
Anniversaries, fairs and festivals form a vital part in the social life of ordinary Bangladeshis. Important festivals of the Muslims include Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha, Muharram and Shab-e-Barat. Widely celebrated festivals of other communities include Durga Puja and Janmastami of the Hindus, Christmas of the Christians and Buddha Purnima of the Buddhists. Among the non-denominational anniversaries, Bengali New year’s Day or Pahela Baishakh on 14 April, Language Martyrs’ Day on 21 February, Independence Day on 26 March, National Mourning Day on 15 August and Victory Day on 16 December are observed nationwide.
More information can be found at the following link:http://www.moca.gov.bd/site/