Traditions & Customs
The majority of Bangladeshi are religious, but quite liberal and secular views are not uncommon. People in general are very hospitable, and some precautions will keep it this way:
- As in most neighboring countries, the left hand is considered dirty and is used to go to the bathroom, take off your shoes, etc. Therefore, always use your right hand to offer or receive anything, and to bring food to your mouth.
- Men, especially strangers and foreigners, should never try to shake hands or touch local women: simply put your hand over your heart and make a slight bow to say hello.
- Women who travel without men may find it a little harder to get a rickshaw car driver to take them to their destination.
- Mosques are sometimes out of reach of non-Muslims and certain areas of them are beyond the reach of women. Ask someone in the mosque before entering and before taking pictures. Cover your head and arms and legs, and take off your shoes before entering.
- Standing up from your seat and leaning slightly to greet older people will earn you respect and social approval. Do not refer to your elders or those in positions of high social rank for you (ie, doctors, teachers / professors, religious leaders, etc.) by their names; this is considered extremely rude and highly derogatory. Children do not call their parents by name or surname, and in some regions of the country, wives do not call their husbands by their first names.
- Keep in mind that Bangladesh only sees a small number of foreign visitors, and most locals will genuinely be curious about you, observing all your movements and expressions. Do not underestimate how impressionable it can be, make sure you leave the good ones!