Bishwa Ijtema

Bishwa Ijtema was from January 24-26 in 2014, and will be January 31- February 2 in 2014.

So....what is Bishwa Ijtema?

It is said the second largest Muslim congregation after Haji to Mecca.
Thousand of Muslims gather for praying.
Not only Bangladeshi, but also foreigner comes.

According to news paper, sermons are translated into English, Bengali, Malaya, Tamil, French, Hindi and Urdu.This 3 days gathering are held in two phases since 2011 because too much crowd can paralyze the country.

Where to gather?
The venue is Tongi where about 10-15km from Dhaka city.
Ijtema started in Bangladesh in 1948, and Tongi became the venue since 1966.
I was warned...... that I would not be able to go and come, to and from Tongi.

I knew it was not the best idea at all to go to where huge congestion was expected, but no way to miss this big and important event in Bangladesh.

I went on the second day of Ijtema.
Surprisingly, I could reach Tongi by bus without any problem.

Women can't get inside, so I walked along the place.
Straw mat was sold besides the road.
Market appeared.
Where people are, market is.
Tried to look over people and people......

Guss what it is?
Bathroom. I don't know how may bathrooms are needed for that amount of people.
I just went around the venue, and took bus back to home.
I was at home before evening.


It is not supposed to be that easy.
I heard road was filled with people and bus stopped.

More people will be at the last day of Ijtema, I heard.
So, I tried the last day too.

Road was blocked!!
From the sign board, you have to walk all the way to Tongi!! (about 10 km)

So, I started walking.
Along the road, snacks stands appeared.
Temporary restaurant besides the road.
I walked 5km or so on the rail track.
Then, I found a train.
So, I got on.
on the roof, of course.
Even snack seller comes to roof!
When train stops, people buy snacks from seller walking on ground.
Seller throws up snack.
Customer throws down money.
I am worried if they need change.....money won't reach customer's hand.
Then they don't buy, maybe.

So.....arrived at Tongi!!
People and people!
Indeed, I couldn't reach the venue in time.
People who couldn't get inside prayed on the street.
All the people around me prayed.

I was hungry then....but no store staff seems caring a foreigner who was looking for food.
I walked hearing sermon, in the people praying.
After a while, sermon finished, and then....

Whole sounds came back.
People stood up at a moment, grabbed mat if they have, rushed to the station!
The next moment that I was walking quietly, I was in the sea of people.

I was mobbed and walked the same way to them.
Of course, there were so many people in and on the train(not under, though).
How can I get on?
How can I?
They waved me, so I waved.
I took some pictures, and left for home.
Of course, by my foot.

I think I walked 3-4 km again.
Then, boys walking with me get bus for me.
It cost 5 times as much as usual.......but still better than walking 10km more to home.
(Actually it cost "only" 100tk ≒ 80cent)

However, many many people were walking to the city all the way with their bag.
Here it is!
I didn't have enough energy to wait for the next train to take better picture, but you see how it is like.

It was the scene I could have never seen in Japan.
It was the experience I would have never had in Japan.
I hope all the people safely come back their home.

From January 31th, next phase will start though I don't dare to go 3rd time this year.


Tangail -AJIYER(3)-

Good morning!
The second day's program started in the early morning.
Before we left, we had Bhapa pita as morning snack.
Then, started.
We passed weaving village we visited yesterday, hearing sound of weaving.
They work from this early morning.

I doubted if morning market could be interesting for me who used to do shopping at market.
However, the first thing I saw was milk in bukets.
Farmers bring milk from each house's cow and bring it to the market.
I buy most of things at market, but mlik I buy in Dhaka is always packed.
Vegetable was chaper than Dhaka, so I bought califlower and garic.
I believe no tourists have bought vegetables at that market.
I have to admit that bringing vegetables from Tangail to Dhaka wasn't the best idea......but anyway it was good and cheap.

After breakfast(of course, we had breakfast in addition to morning snack),
We left for reseach center again.

We saw a woman making "Muri".
I have eaten it several times, but never seen how it was cooked.

It was made like "popcorn".
As she roasted, it popped.

After that, we helped(or disturbed) grainig crops, and left for village.
The first village we visited was pottery village.
Do you have any idea how to use these rings made of clay?
For exapmle, well.
I have rarely seen well, so it was interesting and a little scary to see into deep hall.

Next, we visited silvermith village.
and movedvisited an old mosque.
The tourguide was willing to BE TAKEN picture, but not to TAKE picture of us......unfortunately.

Each village we have visited has one business(weaving village, silvermith village...e.t.c).
Village people used to tourists not very much but slightly, so people don't stop their hands and show us their work when we visited.

However, you can also experience being "foreigner".
As we looked kitchen house (Kitchen is outside, stands as one house), people gathered.
And took my arm and brought us to their house, gave food.
It is one of interesting and beautiful thing in Bangladesh.
Even they used to tourists somehow, this warm atmosphere was there.

We finished our tour in the morning, and left Tangail after lunch.
It became busy but fun weekend holiday.

I missed "Bhapa pitha making" because I changed the date.
Since some programs change by the day, please check in advance.
It is very good place to experience Bangladesh village without traveling for long distance.
Tangail is only 3 hours bus ride from Dhaka.

Webpage : http://www.ajiyer.com/

*about UBINIG


Tangail -AJIYER(2)-

Today's tour hadn't finished.
We took rest with tea until evening "Cultural program" started.

It was music and dance.
People played Lalon song and some farmer's song.
I didn't really understand what they sang about, but one was about rice.
A man sang up names of 127 kinds rice paddy.
Another man sang 55 kinds of fishes....
They led us play instrument like small tambourine, but we weren't sure how to use.

At last, we also sang Japanese song.
It was fun....just the better, if there were more tourists to sing together.

After singing, dinner was waiting.
There are all types of curries.....vegetable, fish, beef and bean soup(of course).
In addition, we had chicken barbecue.

I say, the taste is a little different from local curry.
I can't explain well, but the taste is more.....sophisticated.
It was very good, but just different!
Maybe they make it for tourists.
So far, my sister liked it. (She said it was less spicy)

After eating a lot.....we needed some exercise.
As driver and cook asked for joining badminton, we did.
Of course, we didn't mean to play hard since we had taken shower before dinner.
However, somehow we played seriously.
We were about to leave, but then doubles game started!


It wasn't no longer cold when we finished 3 games.
We got back to room tired, and slept well.
As all of you can imagine, we had to move like robot because of muscle pain the day after.
Continues to next day.....


Tangail -AJIYER(1)-

I have visited Tangail where 3 hours distance by bus from Dhaka.
For what?
To take my sister who visited me to somewhere outside of Dhaka.
Tangail is good location for one day trip.
There is research center named "UBINIG".
Accommodation of a travel agent "AJIYER" stands besides the center.
AJIYER works for developing community tourism, and I booked through them.
*Community tourism
It aims to include and benefit local communities.

The tour starts from 11 a.m, so we started Mohakhali bus terminal in Dhaka in the early morning.
Bus brought us to Tangail in 3 hours. (Bus was around 170tk....maybe)
We took CNG(not reserved, so it costs only15tk) to Pathrail.
It took 15 minutes or so.
Arriving Pathrail, I just kept saying "UBINIG" and people showed the way.

I passed by Mustard field......
Kept walking.......
If you didn't know, you may not notice the building.
However, there is pretty accommodation behind a door.
As we arrived, a staff offered tea and morning snack.
(Popular snak is Samosa or Shingara.....but somehow it was fried potato)

Then, we left our bags in room and started for tour.
But before leaving, some pictures of the room......
Pretty room.
So, let's start. 

At first, we visited Seed Wealth Centre.

In each jug, there is different kind of paddy.
There are around 3,000 kinds!

Then next, headed to weavers village.
Tangail is famous for saree.
There are 2 ways of weaving, one is "Jacquard system" and another is "Nokhshi Buti".

This is Jacquard system.
Pattern is in the weaving machine.
It takes 3 days for weaving for a saree.
After weaving, extra strings are cut.

It takes 5 hours to cut, and people get 800tk for one saree.

Nokhshi Buti is done all by hand.
I heard it took about a week for a saree, and workers get 1,400tk.
I asked how long they worked a day.
Usually 8 a.m-8 p.m, was the answer. (though they can come later and leave earlier if they don't feel like to work though...)
But it was impressive how much work is done only for a saree!
Strings are also produced in the village.
A man in the picture walks with reeling a long string.
 Dyed strings were hanged.
Walk in the village a little more, loooong saree was reeled.
Besides them, children played badminton.
Our tour guide joined badminton, too.

Don't we go back?
It is getting colder unless we play badminton!
In the evening, we came back to the accommodation.
The day continues......but I will take break here.