In Bangladesh’s hierarchical society, a person’s position and age earns them respect and wisdom. When in a group, the most senior person (by position or age) will often make the important decisions. This social norm carries into the workplace, as well.
Muslim and Bengali cultures mix throughout the country with many Bangladeshis holding cross-cultural beliefs. For example, many Bangladeshis believe in Shamanism and the powerful fakirs (Muslim holy men/exorcists/faith healers), Ojhaa (shamins with magical healing powers), and Bauls (religious mendicants and wandering musicians). These folk traditions and believes are incorporated in the many Bangladeshi customs involving music, dance and literature.
Bangladesh’s social etiquette is based off of these multicultural beliefs. Greetings are conservative and often only take place between members of the same sex. Men may exchange gentle handshakes, while women are rarely introduced. (Only offer a handshake if the woman you are introduced to extends her hand first).
Due to the country’s emphasis on hierarchy, be sure to properly address a person while acknowledging their seniority. For example, if the person you are addressing is older than you, you may call them by their first name and a suffix that clarifies the person’s relationship with you.
As you travel around the country, keep these cultural differences in mind in order to avoid appearing offensive or ignorant. Bangladesh’s social etiquette has deep religious roots. Keep an open mind and respect the Bangladeshi beliefs!