Origin and Socio-cultural Formation of Bihari Identity: A Study on Bihari Community in Bangladesh
Keywords:Biharis, Identity, Citizenship, Assimilation
Bihari community has been living in Bangladesh since 1947, after being forced to migrate from various regions of India. Owing to religious differences, the Bihari community was expelled for communal riot from their homeland. Subsequently, they moved to their ideological home propagated by two-nation theory. Bangladesh joined Pakistan as federal state after partition which made Muslims of India, including the Biharis, thought that Bangladesh was also their ideological home. Having a distinct language and culture, the Bihari community could not be able to assimilate into the society of Bangladesh. They had to remain stranded and stuck in between two cultures outside of their home. However, they were given citizenship by the Government of Bangladesh, but still the debate of them being ‘others’ still on. This study aims to trace out the origin of the Bihari community in Bangladesh and to find out their current socio-cultural condition. To reveal their socio-cultural condition, this study used qualitative method. Primary data were collected through semi-structured interviews in two Bihari settlements (camps) at Dhaka city. This study suggests that Bihari identity has been very problematic and still debatable. Even after 70 years, many Biharis have retained their distinct socio-cultural practices, while other chose assimilation. Nevertheless, their deplorable condition has been intensified by abject poverty, social exclusion and lack of entitlements to services affecting their socio-cultural condition.
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