Bangladeshi Culture

Etiquette

Basic Etiquette

  • Items are passed with the right hand or both hands. The left hand is reserved for cleaning.
  • It is considered impolite to cross one’s legs or to smoke in the presence of elders.
  • Young people may show respect to older people by touching their feet.
  • Bangladeshis do not commonly queue in crowded public places, such as train stations or shopping centres. At times, receiving service is dependent on pushing and maintaining one’s place within the crowd.


Visiting

  • Visitors are always asked to have a seat since it is considered improper for a visitor to sit on the floor.
  • Hosts are culturally obliged to offer guests something to eat, so expect to be offered refreshments and snacks during any visit.
  • If people are gathering for a large social occasion, Bangladeshis tend to try and avoid being among the first or last guests to arrive.
  • When people are invited to an event that they cannot attend, they will respond to the host by saying that they will try to attend. A blunt ‘no’ may be interpreted as not valuing the host’s friendship.
  • When invitations are extended to individuals, it is generally assumed that the gesture includes an offer for their entire extended family to attend.
  • It is not customary for dinner guests to bring gifts. Rather, it is common for dinner invitations to be reciprocated.

 

Eating

  • Bangladeshis will often use their hands to eat rather than cutlery. The right hand is used to scoop food into the mouth. However, it is considered bad etiquette to pass, serve or spoon food to one’s mouth with the left hand. It should be used to hold the plate or assist the right hand in serving food.
  • Bangladeshis often offer their guests additional helpings of food. It is acceptable to refuse, however, expect the host to insist. It can be easier and also more polite to graciously accept.
  • Plates are taken to a main dish for serving rather than passing food around the table.

 

Gift Giving

  • Gifts are generally given among family members at religious holidays, however, in cities it is becoming more common for gifts to be given on birthdays.
  • For most Bangladeshis it is the thought rather than the value of the gift that is important.
  • Avoid giving white flowers or frangipanis as these are typically reserved for funerals.
  • Do not give byproducts of pork to a Muslim or beef/leather byproducts to a Hindu.
  • Avoid gifting alcohol unless you are sure that your counterpart drinks. Many Bangladeshi Muslims and Hindus do not.
  • It is considered impolite to open gifts in front of the giver.
  • Typically, gifts are given with two hands.
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