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.


  1. Dear Shiori, the experience u gather from Ijtma, It may be one of ur much valuable experience. But, it's also true that to avoid this huge crowd and the trouble u faced on the road many people like me don't like to go Ijtma and I just watched it on TV, but never been there during Ijtema time

  2. Thank you for your comment. Interesting to hear another opinion for Ijtame. It totally makes sense!