By Kelsey Banerjee for Remitly
Every March 26th, Bangladeshis sit together to watch parades and fireworks in celebration of Independence Day.
For Bangladeshis, Independence Day is about more than freedom. It is a time to appreciate the Bengali language and culture, as well as the importance of human rights.
While in 2021 many events were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions, many still took time out of their day to celebrate Bangladesh’s 50th Independence Day. Independence Day is celebrated among friends and family from Dhaka to remote villages.
As Bangladesh celebrates its freedom through patriotic songs, parades, fireworks, and more, we are thrilled to be able to help Bengalis living abroad to send money home to their loved ones.
A Brief History of Bangladesh Independence Day
To understand the importance of Bangladeshi Independence Day, we need to go back in time.
In 1947, the British officially left the subcontinent of South Asia. During the days of colonialism, Muslims and Hindus were often pitted against each other. As a result, tensions arose after independence. Both groups were afraid of becoming a minority.
As a result, two countries were founded during Partition: India and Pakistan. But Pakistan was hardly a unified nation. Instead, it was split into West Pakistan and East Pakistan. These areas were dramatically different.
While both regions had a Muslim-majority, there were different ethnic groups. And at the time, not all were recognized. Many in East Pakistan soon felt that they were being left out of important discussions. From the economy to the national language, East Pakistanis were not part of the decision-making process.
In the 1970s, these differences came to a head. In 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won an election. But the current President Yahya Khan, from West Pakistan, refused to recognize him. Instead, Yahya Khan launched “Operation Searchlight” to eliminate freedom fighters in East Pakistan.
On March 26, 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh, as an independent state. This set off a bloody civil war.
The conflict lasted until December of 1971 when the West Pakistani army surrendered. It wasn’t long before East Pakistan became recognized as a fully independent country. With the help of the UN and its allies, West Pakistan agreed to recognize the Republic of Bangladesh. And Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led the Bangladeshi struggle, became known as Bangabandhu, the ‘Friend of Bengal.”
6 Facts About Bangladesh Independence Day Celebrations
1. Enjoy the festivities
Every year there are a host of fairs, parades, concerts, housing the national flag, and other events to celebrate Bangladeshi Independence Day. There are specialty programs on TV from morning until evening, and a thirty-one gun salute is conducted in the morning. And since it is a national holiday, many have the day off.
2. International celebrations
Independence Day is celebrated across the globe by the Bangladeshi diaspora. It is often celebrated in India as well, as the Indian army supported Bangladesh during the Liberation War. Organizations like the Federation of Bangladeshi Associations in North America (FOBANA) have organized Independence Day celebrations.
3. Discover the Bangla language
One of the reasons for the Liberation War was language. West Pakistan only wanted to recognize Urdu as the country’s official language. However, at the time, Bengali-speaking Pakistanis made up 56% of the population. The Language Movement was founded in 1948 to protest against the scrubbing of Bengali script from currency, stamps, and public use.
Known as the “sweetest” language in the world, Bengali has been the language of many prominent writers, including Tagore, Tahmima Anam, Rashid Askari, and many others.
4. The Independence Day Award
Since 1977, talented individuals who have contributed to the fields of literature, science, education, and public services, among other areas, are given the Independence Day award. In Bengali, this award is called Swadhinata Puroskar. It is the highest state award in the country.
5. Spend time with family and friends
More than anything, the Independence Day of Bangladesh is the perfect occasion to spend time with friends and family. It’s not uncommon for families to eat their favorite dishes, order out, and watch movies together.
6. The name Bangladesh
After the Liberation War, East Pakistan renamed itself Bangladesh. This literally translates into the Bengali Nation or Country of Bengals.
Everything You Need to Know About Independence Day in Bangladesh 2022
- In 2021, many events related to Independence day were canceled or restricted due to the pandemic. This included the 50th anniversary of Independence.
- Bengalis living in Bangladesh and abroad can watch the live stream of the official Independence Day Parade.
- While Independence Day is an important public holiday, Victory Day tends to garner more worldwide celebration. Victory Day celebrates Bangladesh’s victory in the Liberation War. This holiday is held on December 16th. In 2013, volunteers set a new world record on Victory Day when they used blocks to create the largest human flag in Dhaka.
- In the evening, it’s common to watch the Independence Day award ceremony.
Further reading: Safely Send Money to Bangladesh in 5 Easy Steps
As we approach Bangladeshi Independence Day, some Bengalis still can’t travel to see family and friends because of COVID-19 restrictions. So Remitly is here if you need to send money to Bangladesh or over 100 countries quickly and safely.
Remitly makes international money transfers faster, easier, more transparent, and more affordable. Over 5 million people worldwide trust our reliable and easy-to-use mobile app. Visit our homepage or download the app to get started.