We all know that we don’t pat the back of a colleague in Korea to thank them for a “job well done”. Or eat with your left hand in India, or sip vodka in Russia. In many countries, these actions are harmless. But in others, they can give a wrong impression or cause offense.
In fact, whatever culture you’re from, it’s likely that you routinely do something that could cause offense somewhere else in the world. So here is:
A primer on how to avoid mistakes in
Most Bangladeshis are religious but fairly liberal and secular points of view are not uncommon. The people are in general very hospitable, and a few precautions will keep it this way: As in most neighbouring countries, the left hand is considered unclean and is used for toilet duties, removing shoes, etc.
Hence, always use your right hand to offer or receive anything, and to bring food to your mouth. Men, especially strangers and foreigners, should never attempt to shake hands with or touch local women simply put your hand on your heart and bow slightly to greet. Women travelling without men may find it slightly harder to get an auto-rickshaw driver who will take them to their destination. Mosques are sometimes off-limits to non-Muslims and certain areas of them off-limits to women.
Inquire with someone at the mosque before entering and before taking any pictures. Cover your head and arms and legs, and take off your shoes before entering. Standing from your seat and bowing slightly to greet elderly individuals will gain you respect and social approval. Do not refer to your elders or those in socially senior positions to you (i.e.: doctors, professors/teachers, religious leaders, etc.) by their first names; this is considered extremely rude and utmostly derogatory. Children do not call their parents by their first or last names, and in some regions of the country, wives do not call their husbands by their first names either.
Keep in mind that Bangladesh sees only a tiny number of foreign visitors, and most locals will be genuinely curious about you, watching your every move and expression. Don’t underestimate how impressionable some can be, make sure you’re leaving good ones! Also keep in mind, that whenever you enter someone’s home, open your shoes before you enter. Wearing shoes into someone’s home is considered extremely rude and insulting.
With this, you had the primer on key facts about Bangladesh, and key facts on culture and customs. Another important part of the culture is the local food and the local drinks. Make sure you read our posts on Bangladesh food and drinks:
Other tips that you’d like to share on mistakes to avoid in Bangladesh? Please comment below.