Bede people

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Bede or Beday is a nomadic ethnic group of Bangladesh. The Bede traditionally live, travel, and earn their living on the river, which has given them the name of "Water Gypsy" or "River Gypsy".[1] Bede people are similar to gypsy people.[2] They travel in groups and never stay in one place for more than a couple of months. The majority of the Bedes live on snake related trading, such as snake charming(training), snake catching, snake selling, etc. They also sell lucky heathers, herbal medicines, which they claim have magical properties. Bedes' other occupations are in the entertainment services (e.g. monkey shows, magic shows) and petty trading.[1]Many villagers believe in the magical powers of the gypsies. They can make evil spirits leave someone's body according to magical powers.

Some of them beg on the busy streets of big cities like Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna. They do not have any kind of formal education and they do not use medical facilities. Most of them speak Bengali. Most of them are Muslim but also practice Hinduism, Shamanism and Animism along with Islam. They are related to other South Asian nomadic groups, such as the Dom.

The Bedes are a marginalized group. About 98 percent of Bedes live below the poverty line, and about 95% of Bede children do not attend school. Historically the Bedes were unable to vote as they did not own land, nor could they apply for banks loan or microcredit for the same reason.[1] However, in 2008 the Bedes were able to win their right to vote.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Maksud, A. K. M.; Imtiaj, R. (3–5 December 2006). "The Nomadic Bede Community and Their Mobile School Program" (PDF). What Works for the Poorest: Knowledge, Policies and Practices. 
  2. ^ Dalton, Edward (1978). Tribal History of Eastern India. New Dehli: Cosmo Publications. 
  3. ^ "Rough sailing for Bangladesh river-gypsies". Al Jazeera. Bijoyeta Das. Retrieved 2 February 2013.