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.
Where people are, market is.
Tried to look over people and people......
Bathroom. I don't know how may bathrooms are needed for that amount of people.
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)
Along the road, snacks stands appeared.
Then, I found a train.
So, I got on.
on the roof, of course.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.