How do Sylheti Muslims see Sylheti Hindus

Sylhetis - Sylhetis

Indo-Aryan ethnolinguistic group
Primary school students in Srimangal, Sylhet department.
Total population
c. ~ 10.3 million
Regions with significant population groups
Bangladesh (Sylhet Division)
India (Barak Valley, Hojai, North Tripura, Shillong)
middle East (GCC countries)
Western world (United Kingdom, United States)
Sylheti (native), Standard Bengali ( mostly spoken as L2)
Mostly Sunni Muslims, large minority Hindus
Small minorities:
Related ethnic groups
Indo-Aryan peoples, Bengal, Assamese

The Sylhetis are an Indo-Aryan ethno-cultural group associated with the Sylhet region in South Asia, particularly northeastern Bengal, currently split between the Sylhet Division of Bangladesh and the Karimganj District of Assam, India. There are sizeable Sylheti populations in the Barak Valley and Hojai District of Assam, the Indian areas of Meghalaya, North Tripura and Manipur. They speak Sylheti, an East Indo-Aryan language that is also considered by some to be a Bengali dialect.

The Sylheti identity is mainly associated with a cultural, linguistic and strong regional identity, while it is accompanied by a national (either Bangladeshi or Indian) and Bengali identity. During the reign of Srichandra in the 10th century, the natives of Sylhet were called Bangāl denotes, while the Brahmin immigrants whom the Buddhist king invited to the region as Deshāntariā .


Lord Cornwallis introduced the Bengal Settlement Act in 1793 and changed the social, political and economic landscape of the Sylhet region. The socio-economic impact on former landlords was severe when the land changed hands. Side by side, the colonial administration opened up new opportunities for young men looking for merchant shipping companies. Young men from Sylhet boarded ships mainly in Kolkata, Mumbai and Singapore. Many Sylheti believed that seafaring was a historical and cultural heritage, as a large part of the Sylheti Muslims were descended from foreign traders, lascars, and businessmen from the Middle East and Central Asia who immigrated to the Sylhet region before and after the conquest of Sylhet . Khala Miah, a Sylheti migrant, claimed this was a very encouraging factor for Sylhetis to travel to Calcutta to eventually reach the United States and the United Kingdom. Because of Magna Carta Libertate Sylhetis was able to freely enter and settle in the UK (while a letter of intent was required to enter the US). Diaspora patterns indicate a strong connection between the Sylheti diaspora and the Sylheti seafarer movement.

The population of the Sylheti diaspora grew in response to the need for economic supplies during the British Raj when many Sylheti men left the region in search of work. During this time, young men from Sylhet often worked as lascars in the British merchant navy. Some abandoned their ships in London in search of economic opportunities, while others found alternative ways to enter the country. Chain migration eventually led to the settlement of large numbers of Sylhetis in working-class neighborhoods in London's East End and other industrial cities such as Luton, Birmingham, Sheffield, Blackburn, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford and Oldham.

Today the Sylheti diaspora numbers around one million people, mainly in the UK, USA, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Australia, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Finland, the Middle East and other European countries. However, a 2008 study found that 95% of the Sylheti diaspora reside in the UK. In the United States, most of the sylhetis live in New York City, although sizable populations also live in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and Detroit.

Some argue that Sylheti diaspora remittances to Bangladesh from around the world have negatively impacted developments in Bangladesh, where a lack of government initiatives has led to economic sluggishness.

According to neoclassical theory, the poorest would move to the richest countries and those from densely populated areas to sparsely populated regions. This was clearly not the case. The brain drain was a core-to-core movement based solely on economic maximization as young Sylheti pioneers with access to finance migrated from a severely overpopulated Bangladesh to the crowded streets of Spitalfields, the poorest of all parts of Bangladesh to Sylhet migrated for a better life, leading to severe overcrowding and scarcity of resources in Sylhet.


The old Rabir Bazar Jame Mosque in Kulaura was founded by a Sylheti Shia woman for the Sunni community.

Islam is the greatest religion practiced by Sylhetis. Sunni Islam is the largest majority denomination after Hanafi Law School, although some also follow Shafi'i and Hanbali Madhhabs . There are a significant number of people who follow Sufi ideals similar to the Barelvis. Most influential are the teachings of Abdul Latif of Fultoli, Zakiganj - a descendant of Shah Kamal Quhafa, the son of Burhanuddin Quhafa, one of Shah Jalal's disciples. The Deobandi revitalizing movement is also popular with Sylhetis and many are part of the Tablighi Jamaat. Similarly, the Faraizi movement of Haji Shariatullah was very popular in the Sylhet region during British times, and Wahhabism was adopted by some of the upper class Sylheti families.

There is a very small minority of Shiite Muslims who gather every year during Ashura to mourn the Muharram processions. The processions include the Prithimpasha Nawab Bari in Kulaura, where a Shiite family lives, as well as Balaganj, Osmani Nagar and Rajtila.

Hinduism is the second largest religion under Sylhetis. Other minority religions are Christianity and there was a presence of Sikhism after Guru Nanak's visit to Sylhet in 1508 to spread the religion and get one there Gurdwara to build up. This Gurdwara was visited twice by Tegh Bahadur and many Hukamnamas were given to this temple in Sylhet by Guru Gobind Singh. In 1897 the Gurdwara fell after the earthquake.

Caste and class

Sylheti Hindus are socially divided into four castes called Soturbonno. The caste system, derived from the Hindu system of Bonno (type, order, color or class) and Zat (clan, tribe, community or subcommunity), which divides people into four colors: white, red, yellow and black. White people are brahmins who are destined to be priests, teachers, and preachers. Red people are khotriyo who are destined to be kings, governors, warriors, and soldiers. Yellow people are besho who were born to be herders, ploughmen, artisans, and merchants. and blacks are Shudro who were born to be workers and servants of the dual born caste people. There are people of all caste denominations among Sylheti Hindus.

Although Islam does not recognize castes, the Sylheti Muslims have employed a system of social stratification known as "bongsho". The class system among Muslims developed during the halcyon days of the Mughal Empire. The upper caste is divided into four groups that are claimed to be descended from; Syeds (Prophet Muhammad), Mughals, Pathans and Shaikhs (Middle East and those who spread Islam). Other castes include Mahimal. The latter two formed the majority of Sylheti Muslims at the beginning of the 20th century.



Sylheti cuisine is similar to other regional Bangladeshi cuisines. However, there are also dishes that only offer sylhetis. Meal A sylheti consists of many things like Bhat (Rice) with mas ( Fish curry), gus / gusto (Meat curry), dail , Anaz (Greens and herbs) and shobzi ( Vegetables ).

Sylhetis have a variation of the famous pilaf dish - Akhni - in which the rice is cooked and the pieces of meat are cut. Meats commonly consumed include beef, chicken, mutton, and duck / goose in dishes such as duck bamboo curry. They also pride themselves on the heritage of Beef Hatkora, a rice dish made from a wild citrus fruit native to the Sylhet region and not found in other parts of Bengal. Sylhetis cuisine is famous for hutki, which is dried fish, which in turn can be used to make dishes such as hutki shira. There are two variations of Hutki; One species is sun-dried while the other is buried under wet earth. Hatkora (wild citrus fruits) are sometimes used to flavor curries. Popular fish curries are Gual , Rou , Ilish or Fabia . A key feature of a Sylheti meal is Tenga (Preparations with a characteristically rich and spicy taste). The food is often served in plates that have a distinctive floral design, often in blue or pink. Common drinks are shorbot, falooda, rooh afza, traditional fruit juices and beverages based on basil seeds or tukma.

During the British era, biscuits and breads were introduced to the region and enjoyed great popularity among the Muslim community. The civil Hindus of Cachar and Sylhet were very suspicious of biscuits and breads, believing that they were baked by Muslims. On one occasion, some Hindus in Cachar caught an Englishman eating biscuits with tea, which caused a stir. The information reached the Hindus of Sylhet and there was a small rebellion. In response, companies began to advertise their bread as "machine-made" and "untouched by (Muslim) hands" to tell Hindus that the breads were "safe to eat". This incident is mentioned in the autobiography of Bipin Chandra Pal and he mentions how the culinary habits of Hindus gradually changed.

Language and literature

Sylhetis speak Sylheti, which is commonly considered a Bengali dialect, while others consider it a separate language. Many native speakers consider Sylheti to be the diglossic colloquial language, with standard Bengali forming the codified lecture. Sylheti poets wrote in Bengali in the 16th century. The 18th century Hattanather Panchali (Hattanath Chronicles), originally written by Ganesh Ram Shiromani, are Bengali ballads that describe the early history of Sylhet, although their authenticity is in question. When Sylhet was under the rule of the Twipra Kingdom, the medieval Sylheti writers who used the Bengali script included Dwija Pashupati, the author of Chandravali - one of the earliest Sylheti works. Nasir ad-Din Haydar from the city of Sylhet wrote the Tawarikh-e-Jalali, the first Bengali biography of Shah Jalal. Only Ali Khan from Syedpur wrote Marifoti Geet and Kobi Muzaffar Khan from Ita was a poet. Muslim literature was based on historical affairs and biographies of prominent Islamic figures. Like the rest of Muslim Bengal, Bengali Muslim poetry was written in a colloquial Bengali dialect known as Dobhashi, which had a great influence on Sylheti. Dobhashi featured the use of Perso-Arabic vocabulary in Bengali texts. A separate script was developed in Sylhet for this popular language register. Known as the Sylheti Nagri script, its most famous writer was Sadeq Ali, whose Halatunnabi was famous as a household item among rural Muslim communities. There were manuscripts of works like Rag Namah by Fazil Nasim Muhammad, Shonabhan Puthi by Abdul Karim and the earliest known work Talib Huson (1549) by Gholam Huson. Late Nagri writers include Muhammad Haidar Chaudhuri, who died in 1907 Ahwal-i-Zamana wrote, and Muhammad Abdul Latif, of 1930 Pohela Kitab o Doikhurar Rag wrote.

Sylhet, especially the Taraf, was also a respected center for the study of Persian, an official language until the British period, due to the high number of foreign missionaries from Central Asia and Persia after the conquest of Sylhet. Ma'dan al-Fawaid was written by Syed Shah Israil in 1534, who acted as Sylhets first author applies. Other prominent writers are Muhammad Arshad, Syed Rayhan ad-Din, and Syed Pir Badshah. Reyazuddin of Taraf wrote a Persian book on "Dream Fruit". It was known that Ala Bakhsh Mazumdar Hamed wrote Tuhfatul Muhsineen and Diwan-i-Hamed. Overall, the works of these two people from the Mazumdar family in Sylhet are among the most creative literary works in the Sylhet region. Majid Bakht Mazumdar wrote an English book on family history.

In the 19th century, Urdu had a somewhat aristocratic background in Sylhet, and notable families who spoke of it were the Nawabs of Longla and the Mazumdars of Sylhet. Moulvi Hamid Bakht Mazumdar, who was also fluent in Persian, wrote the Urdu prose Ain-i-Hind , a history of the Indian subcontinent. Belonged to the literature written at this time Tanbeeh al-Ghafileen by Nazir Muhammad Abdullah Ashufta from 1894 and the poems by Moulvi Farzam Ali Bekhud from Baniachong. Hakim Ashraf Ali Mast and Fida Sylheti were prominent Urdu poets of Sylhet in the 19th century, the latter being a student of Agha Ahmad Ali Isfahani. In 1946 the Anjuman-i Taraqqi-i Urdu performed a mushaira in Sylhet, which Hafeez Jalandhari, the lyricist of Pakistan's national anthem, attracted.

Popular modern writers and poets from the region include Abdur Rouf Choudhury, Dilwar Khan, and Chowdhury Gulam Akbar. Muhammad Mojlum Khan is a non-fiction author best known for writing English biographical lexicons, the Muslim 100. Prominent Bengali non-fiction authors are Syed Murtaza Ali, Syed Mujtaba Ali, Dewan Mohammad Azraf, Abed Chaudhury, Achyut Charan Choudhury, Arun Kumar Chanda, Asaddor Ali, Ashraf Hussain and Dwijen Sharma.

Fashion and clothing

Sylheti clothing is similar to Bengali and North Indian clothing. In rural areas, older women wear them Shari, while the younger generation wear the Selwar Kamiz, both with a simple design. In urban areas is the Selwar Kamiz more popular and has different fashionable designs. Men also wear traditional costumes like that Fanjabi With Selwar or Pajamas . The popularity of the fotua , a shorter outer garment, also replaces the Fanjabi in casual environments so this must be worn on more formal occasions. The longi and gamsa, is a common combination for men living in rural areas. Islamic clothing is also very common in the region. On special occasions, women often wear either modestly shari s, selwar kamizes or abayas, cover their hair with hijab or unna; and men wear a fanjabi and cover their hair with a tupi, toqi, pagri or rumal.

Sports and games

Cricket and soccer are the most popular sports at Sylhetis. Many Sylheti cricketers have played for the Bangladesh national cricket team, including Alok Kapali, Enamul Haque Jr., Nazmul Hossain, Rajin Saleh and Tapash Baisya. Beanibazar SC football club played in the Bangladesh League and Alfaz Ahmed was a Sylheti who played for the Bangladeshi national football team. Hamza Choudhury is the first Bangladeshi to play in the Premier League and is expected to be the first British Asian to play for England's national football team.

Bulbul Hussain was Sylheti's first professional wheelchair rugby player. Sylhetis are very competitive when it comes to board and home games like Fochishi and its modern counterpart Ludo as well as Carrom Board, Sur-Fulish, Khanamasi and Chess. Rani Hamid is one of the most successful chess players in the world and has won several championships in Asia and Europe. Ramnath Biswas was a revolutionary soldier who made three world tours by bicycle in the 19th century. Nowka Bais is a common traditional rowing competition during the monsoon season when rivers are filled and much of the land is under water. Martial arts are Kabaddi, Latim and Lathi Khela.


Sylheti folklore is influenced by Hindu, Sufi, Turkish-Persian and indigenous ideas. It has some unique elements that set it apart from mainstream Bengali folklore. Common folk beings are bhoots, foris, jinns, mermaids and personified animals. Stories can also include the presence of pirs and fakirs. Folk stories are traditional in villages during one Eshi Mojlis ( idle Sitting) common. Chandra Kumar De from Mymensingh is known as the first researcher of Sylheti folklore. Archives of ancient works are kept at the Kendriya Muslim Sahitya Sangsad in Sylhet (also known as the Sylhet Central Muslim Literary Society) - the oldest literary organization in Bengal and one of the oldest in the subcontinent.


Applying mehndi to the hand is a ceremony in itself.

Sylheti weddings are celebrated using a combination of general Muslim and Hindu traditions with unique Sylheti characteristics. They play a major role in developing and maintaining social relationships between families and villages. The marriages take place mainly between the British Bangladeshi diaspora (known as Londoni ) or the native Sylhetis. The first event in Muslim marriage is as Paan chini (Paan sugar) or Chini-Paan known hosted by the bride's family. Gifts are received from the groom's family and the wedding date is set in this case. An adda takes place between the families while they consume a traditional Bangladeshi banquet of food, paan, tea and mischti. The next event is the mehndi (henna) ceremony, also called the Gaye Holud (Turmeric on the body) is known. This is usually followed by the main event, the Biya-Shadi or Walima, that hosts thousands of guests. A Nikah / Akht takes place where an Islamic marriage contract is signed. A qadi or imam is usually present here and would also recite the Quran and do dua for the couple. Post-marriage ceremonies include this Phirajatra or Phirakhaowa (Bride's return to her house) serving Payesh and milk, as well as the Bou-bhat and fish cutting ceremony that takes place in the groom's house. Dhamail is part of the Sylheti marriage.


A Nouka Bais competition takes place in the monsoon season.

Islamic holidays are celebrated every year by the community that includes Eid al-Adha and Eid ul-Fitr. People wear their new traditional clothes. Children receive money and eidi (gifts) from elders, and oath prayers are attended in large numbers by men in an open eidgah in the morning. They will then visit their relatives later that day. Traditional food is cooked for relatives such as samosa and handesh. Celebrating Eid brings relatives back together and improves relationships. The Eid al-Adha is celebrated after the Hajj to commemorate the observance of the Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Isma'il. An animal has to be sacrificed and then distributed as zakat between families and neighbors.

Significant cultural events or celebrations are also celebrated annually by the community. Foyla Boishakh is a celebration of the New Year and the arrival of summer in the Bengali calendar and is celebrated in April. It has a fair, music and dance performances on stages with people in colorful traditional clothes walking the streets.

The Nouka Bais is a traditional boat racing competition that takes place during and after the rainy season, when much of the land is submerged. The long canoes were called khel naos (ie playing boats), and the use of cymbals to accompany singing was common. Different types of boats are used in different parts of Bengal, and Sylhetis is for the use of Sarangi- Known to boot.

Notable ones

See also



  • Lawson, Sarah; Sachdev, Itesh (2004). "Identity, usage and attitudes: Some Sylheti-Bangladeshi data from London, UK". Journal of Speech and Social Psychology . 23 (1): 49-60. doi: 10.1177 / 0261927X03261223. S2CID 144496795.
  • Mahanta, Sakuntala; Gope, Amalesh (2018). "Tone polarity in Sylheti in the context of noun fidelity". Linguistics . 69 : 80-97. doi: 10.1016 / j.langsci.2018.06.010.