Happy Independence Day, Bangladesh!

Bangladesh Independence Day

Remitly wishes Bangladeshis around the world a very Happy Independence Day!

Every March 26th, Bangladeshis sit with their fellow citizens 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.

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.

In honor of the holiday, let’s look at its history and how it’s celebrated in Bangladesh and worldwide.

A Brief History of Bangladesh Independence Day

We need to go back in time to understand the importance of Bangladeshi Independence Day.

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.

In hopes of a peaceful resolution, two countries were founded during Partition: India and Pakistan.

However, 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 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” and used the Pakistan army to eliminate freedom fighters in East Pakistan.

On March 26, 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh, an independent state. This set off a bloody civil war during which unimaginable horrors took place.

The conflict lasted until December of 1971, when the West Pakistani army surrendered. It was only a short time 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. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led the Bangladeshi struggle, became known as Bangabandhu, the “Friend of Bengal.”

After the Liberation War, East Pakistan renamed itself Bangladesh. This literally translates into the Bengali Nation or Country of Bengals.

Bangladesh Independence Day celebrations

The Independence Day of Bangladesh brings nationwide celebrations. Here are some of the things that Bengalis do to celebrate the holiday.

Bangladesh Independence Day

Spending time with family and friends

More than anything, the Independence Day of Bangladesh is the perfect occasion to spend time with friends and family. Schools typically close because it’s a public holiday, and most people have a day off from work.

It’s not uncommon for families to hold private events celebrating the holiday. For these small parties, families gather to eat their favorite dishes or order out and watch movies together.

Enjoying the festivities

Every year there are a host of fairs, parades, concerts, housing the national flag, and other events to celebrate Bangladeshi Independence Day. TV and radio stations air specialty programs from morning until evening, and a thirty-one gun salute is conducted in the morning. Since it is a national holiday, many have the day off.

The Independence Day Award

Since 1977, talented individuals who have made a substantial contribution to the fields of literature, medical science, fine arts, education, and public services, among other areas, are given the Independence Award. In Bengali, this award is called Swadhinata Puroskar. It is the highest state award in the country.

The award ceremony takes place in the evening on Independence Day, and many people watch the events on television.

National Martyrs Memorial Observance

Every year, many Bangladeshi citizens travel to the National Martyrs Memorial in Dhaka for special ceremonial events. The site pays tribute to those who died in the struggle for an independent Bangladesh.

For Independence Day, the memorial receives a thorough cleaning, and the groundskeepers plant colorful flowers all over the grounds. An official ceremony takes place to mark the day. Prominent members of Bangladesh’s political parties participate to show solidarity.

Celebrations outside of Bangladesh

Independence Day is a time for Bangladeshis around the world to celebrate their history and culture, and there are large celebrations in many parts of the world.

To mark the golden jubilee of the 50-year anniversary of Bengali independence, London lit up the Eye of London and other landmarks in red and green lights, representing the flag of Bangladesh.

Each year, the City Council of New York City holds an event honoring the holiday. In 2023, it included a folk music concert and traditional dance performances.

Los Angeles is home to an annual Bangladeshi Independence Day Parade organized by the Bangladesh Unity Federation of Los Angeles (BUFLA). Afterward, there is a public festival with food booths selling authentic Bangladeshi fare. Bangladeshi dignitaries sometimes attend and make political speeches, and there is a youth talent show and other live events.

How to celebrate Bangladesh Independence Day

You don’t have to be Bangladeshi to celebrate independence day. If you want to pay tribute to the country, here are some ideas.

Watch a movie

Hold a film festival in your home in honor of Bangladesh Independence Day. You can watch a few of the great films that have come out of Bangladesh, such as:

  • Jibon Theke Neya (1977)
  • Aguner Poroshmoni (1994)
  • Dipu Number 2 (1996)
  • Srabon Megher Din (2000)
  • Shyamol Chhaya (2004)
  • Monpura (2009)
  • Third Person Singular Number (2009)
  • Ghetuputra Komola (2012)
  • Jalaler Golpo (2014)
  • The Unnamed (2016)

Discover the Bangla language

Learning how to say some words in Bengali is a great way to celebrate the Independence Day of Bangladesh.

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 comprised 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.

If you want to learn Bengali, try using the online site Supriyo Sen. You can register for a free account to access lessons that teach writing and reading.

Sample some Bangladeshi cuisine

Get a taste of Bangladesh by preparing a delicious meal to share with your family. Some traditional dishes to try include:

If you live in a large city, you may also be able to find an authentic Bangladeshi restaurant to order from.

Make a donation

Another way to honor the Independence Day of Bangladesh is with charitable giving. Nonprofit and socioeconomic organizations undertake programs to help Bangladeshi people throughout the year, and you can use the site Global Giving to learn more about them and make a contribution.

Other key holidays in Bangladesh

While Independence Day is an important national 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.

The day before Independence Day is also another key holiday. Known as Bengali Genocide Remembrance Day, March 25 is a time for people to solemnly reflect on the incredible human cost of gaining independence from Pakistan. Special programs paying respects to those lost take place on this day.

Sending money to Bangladesh

Many Bangladeshis living outside of Bangladesh celebrate their country’s declaration of independence by sending money home to family, and Remitly allows you to do so safely and easily.

Remitly makes international money transfers faster, more transparent, and more affordable. Over 5 million people worldwide trust our reliable and easy-to-use mobile app. Download the app today to learn more.