• Shah Jalal (R)’s death anniversary and wood-cutting festival

    The tradition of observing the death anniversary of the great sait Hazrat Shah Jalal (R) with grandeur dates back almost 700 years. This is held at the end of September and early October. Thousands of devotees throng his shrine. Various programmes including those of spiritual music are held. With the vibrant participation of devotees, the city of Sylhet adopts a colourful look.

    Three weeks prior to the anniversary, a wood-cutting festival is held. Legend has it that on this very day in 1303, right after defeating King Gour Gabinda, Shah Jalal (R) along with his holy companions went to a nearby hill to collect firewood for cooking purposes. The word ‘firewood’ translates into lakri or lakka in Bangla and that is why the hill was eventually named Lakkatura. To commemorate the event every year a large number of devotees wrap themselves in red shawls, go to Lakkatura and return to the shrine with some firewood while paying tribute to his soul by singing spiritual songs.

    The shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal (R) is in downtown Sylhet.

    Besides, the death anniversary of Hazrat Shah Paran (R) is observed with comparable grandeur in the first week of January. His shrine is about seven kilometres east of Sylhet city centre.

  • Hason Festival in Sunamganj

    Greater Sylhet comprises four districts, one of which is Sunamganj. It is popularly known as the town of the illustrious folk musician Hason Raja, who is equally venerated all over Bangladesh. To commemorate his contribution in Bengali folklore, Hason Festival has been organised in Sunamganj in the December-January period for the last few years. Thousands of music-lovers swarm about the town in order to watch reputed folk musicians from all over the country perform live, mostly rendering popular Hason numbers, during the festival.

    Tourists who visit Sunamganj to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature can also take an opportunity to join this festival.

  • Manipuri raash festival

    A significant number of Monipuri indigenous people live in both Sylhet city and Moulvibazaar district in the Greater Sylhet region. Their main religious festival is Sri Sri Moharaashleela, popularly known as the raash festival. Though this festival is organised in Monipuri Royal Palace in Sylhet city, it is celebrated at Madhabpur and Adampur under Komalganj Upazilla in Moulvibazaar in an even grander manner.

    Celebrated since 1769, the raash festival has attracted not only the Monipuri community but people from diverse religious backgrounds as well. Puja pavilions are decorated in a multitude of colours. Monipuri children treat themselves to ‘cowboy’ dance by the day, while at night smartly attired young women from the same indigenous community indulge in raash dance reflecting on the saga of Sri Krishna and Sri Radha as pictured in the Mahabharata.

    The raash festival is organised on the full-moon night of the Bengali month of Karthrik. Anyone visiting Sylhet at this time can pay a visit to the Monipuri Royal Palace as well as Monipuri-inhabited areas of Shibganj and Masimpur for a first-hand experience of the Monipuri raash festival. Besides, anyone intent on participating in the raash festival in the rural areas of Madhabpur or Adampur can easily travel from Sreemongol via Komalganj.

  • Birth anniversary celebration of Sri Chaitainya

    Sri Chaitainya, an apostle and reformer of the Vishnu religion, was born in Dhaka Dakkhin, a place under Golapganj Upazilla in Sylhet. A temple was built there in the middle of the 18th century. Highly revered by the followers of the Sanatana religion as a holy place, it attracts thousands of pilgrims. Every year in April various programmes and fairs are organised there to commemorate the birth of Sri Chaitainya. Dhaka Dakkhin is a 45-minute drive from Sylhet city via Golapganj, and the temple is a short walk from Dhaka Dhakkhin Bazaar.

  • Muharram festival at Prithimpasha

    Prithimpasha Jamindar Bari – a feudal palace under Kulaura Upazilla in Moulvibazar – has a rich legacy of nearly 200 years. The huge tarn in front of the palace, aesthetic works on its walls and eye-catching visuals on the mosque allure tourists with an interest in history and culture.

    As the feudal lords belonged to the Shiite Muslim sect, Ashura has long been celebrated gleefully in this palace. The current successors of the feudal lords still follow this tradition by organising a cultural fair in front of the palace during the first 10 days of the lunar month of Muharram every year. Besides worshipping and singing spiritual songs, devotees recite marsiya, a melancholic poem written to commemorate the martyrdom and valour of Hussain ibn Ali – grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – and his comrades in Karbala, Iraq in 680 AD. The ten-day programme culminates in the tazia or mourning procession on 10th Muharram. Not only does the Muharram festival attract Shiite devotees to Prithimpasha, but large numbers of people from home and abroad also visit the place around that time of the year.