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Map of Sylhet Division
|• Total||12,298.4 km2 (4,748.4 sq mi)|
|• Density||980/km2 (2,500/sq mi)|
|• Languages||Sylheti, Standard Bengali|
|• Literacy rate||98%|
|Time zone||UTC+6 (BST)|
|ISO 3166 code||BD-G|
|Notable cricket teams||Sylhet Sixers, Sylhet Division|
Sylhet Division (Bengali: সিলেট বিভাগ, Sylheti: ꠍꠤꠟꠐ ꠛꠤꠜꠣꠉ), is the northeastern division of Bangladesh, named after its main city, Sylhet. It is bordered by the Indian states of Meghalaya, Assam and Tripura to the north, east and south, respectively; and by the Bangladeshi divisions of Chittagong to the southwest and Dhaka and Mymensingh to the west. Along with the Indian districts of the Barak Valley, it forms the Greater Sylhet region.
The modern-day Sylhet Division was known as the Jalalabad district in Pakistan. In 1971, Sylhet became part of the newly formed independent country of Bangladesh but remained in the Chittagong Division until 1995.
The Sylhet region has a "friendship link" with the city of St Albans, in the United Kingdom. The link was established in 1988 when the St Albans District Council supported a housing project in Sylhet as part of the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless. Sylhet was chosen because it is the area of origin for the largest ethnic minority group in St Albans.
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The area around Sylhet is a traditional tea growing area. The Surma Valley is covered with terraces of tea gardens and tropical forests. Srimangal is known as the tea capital of Bangladesh; for miles around, tea gardens are visible on the hill slopes.
The area has over 150 tea gardens, including three of the largest tea plantations in the world, both in terms of area and production. Nearly 300,000 workers, of which more than 75% are women, are employed on the tea estates. Employers prefer to engage women for plucking tea leaves since they do a better job than, but are paid less than, men. A recent drought has killed nearly a tenth of the tea shrubs.
The plantations, or gardens, were mostly developed during the British Raj. The plantations were started by the British, and the managers still live in the white timber houses built during the Raj. The bungalows stand on huge lawns. The service and the lifestyle of managers are still unchanged.
Numerous projects and businesses in the city and in large towns have been funded by Sylhetis living and working abroad. As of 1986, an estimated 95 percent of ethnic British Bangladeshis originated from or had ancestors from the Sylhet region. The Bangladesh government has set up a special Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Sylhet, in order to attract foreign investors, mainly from the UK.
Sylhet has also benefited from Tourism. There are many natural landmarks people tend to visit, such as the Keane Bridge, Amjad Ali Clock, Lalakhal, Jaflong, Lakatura Tea Garden, Madhabkunda Waterfall, Raturgal Swamp Forest, Tilagor Haor, Lawachara, and Bishnakandi. Sylhet is also considered to be the spiritual capital of Bangladesh, due to the resting place of Shahjalal, a Sufi saint who spread Islam in Bangladesh, which is located in the Shahjalal Mazar, along with another well-known disciple of Shahjalal, Shah Poran Mazar and Shahi Eidgah, a famous place where Eid Prayers take place and it is some of the largest Eidgahs in Bangladesh, created by Mughals during the reign of Aurangzeb. There are a number of hotels and resorts. There is also Sreemangal Upazila in Moulvibazar and Bahubal in Habiganj.
Arts and culture
Many Sylheti try to marry spouses within the same regional, cultural, social and religious backgrounds. Sylheti people are considered a distinct ethnic group in Bangladesh; They are generally family oriented, follow and support Sylheti community culture, and are more conformist Muslims. These tendencies have led to some rivalry between non-Sylhetis and Sylhetis, due to differences in customs.
Marriages are practiced in a traditional Muslim style, with henna ritual (mehendi), and prayers. Sylheti marriages often include contracts of marriage outlining the rights and obligations of both partners. People in Sylhet often marry partners living in the United Kingdom and the US, of communities originally from the district. Its unique culture and economy, and linguistic differences developed in part because the Greater Sylhet region was a part of Assam and Surma Valley State for about 100 years during the British Raj. There is a considerable flow of foreign currency sent from Sylhetis abroad to family in Bangladesh..
In 1995, Sylhet was declared the 6th division of the country. Prior to that it was part of the Chittagong Division. The Sylhet Division is subdivided into four districts (zillah): Habiganj, Moulvibazar, Sunamganj and Sylhet. Further, the Sylhet Division contains 35 sub-districts (upazila/thana), 323 union parishad, 10,185 villages and 14 municipalities. Population: approximately 10 million, which is less than 7% of the total population of Bangladesh.
Religion and faith
Sylhet is a holy place for both Muslim and Hindus. Historically it is known as the land of 360 awliyas (Muslim saints). Famous religious places include the shrines of Shah Jalal, Shah Farhan (popularly known as Shah Paran), Shah Kamal Quhafa in Shaharpara and Sipahsalar Syed Nasiruddin in Habiganj for Muslims.
Sylhet has the largest concentration of Hindus in Bangladesh and is historically an important centre for believers. It is part of the global Shakti Peethas, holy places of cosmic and enormous power, where Goddess Durga is worshipped. Of the fifty-one body parts of Sati, one form of Durga, that fell on Earth, Her neck fell on the south side of Surma River across the Sylhet town and her left palm fell in Jayanti. In addition, Sri Krishna Chaitnaya Mahaprabhu, the God of all Humanity and who will reappear during the kaliyug or end of time, visited his paternal family home in Thakurbari, Dhakadakshin, Golapganj and his maternal family home in Joypur, Habiganj in Sylhet Division in the 16th century. Hindu temples, such as Shri Chaitanya Dev Mandir in Dhakadakshin, Kali Mandir of Jainpur, Narayan Shiva Mandir of Khasa Pandith Para of BeaniBazar, Sri Mahaprabhu Bigraha Akhra of Jaldhup in Beanibazar, Shakti Piths temple of Kirit Devi Kamala, Bagala Matar Mandir of Habiganj, and Kalibari of Jaintiapur are popular.
Followers of different religions are: Muslim 81.16%, Hindu 17.80%, Christian 0.06%, Buddhist 0.02%, and others 0.96%. There are 7524 mosques, 1070 temples, 65 churches, 2 sacred place, 9 pagodas, 50 tomb.
- Shah Jalal – Muslim saint of Bengal, National hero, pioneer of Sylhet.
- Shah Paran – A renowned Sufi saint of the Jalalia section of the Suhrawardiyya order.
- Shah Kamal Quhafa was a sufi saint came to Bangladesh in circa 1315 CE from Mecca and founded Shaharpara.
- Mohammad Ataul Karim
- Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Bangladeshi social worker, the founder and chairperson of BRAC
- Syed Mujtaba Ali, writer, scholar, linguist.
- Dilwar Khan, poet
- Hason Raja, folk musician, composer,songwriter, philosopher.
- Radha Romon, musician, lyricist and composer of folk and traditional dhamal dance music.
- Runa Laila, playback singer.
- Subir Nandi, playback singer.
- Shah Abdul Karim, Baul musician, composer and writer of folk songs.
- Ramkanai Das, folk and classical musician, songwriter and composer.
- Shushama Das, folk singer, songwriter and composer.
- Salman Shah, film actor.
- Sanjeeb Chowdhury, singer and journalist.
- Alaur Rahman, singer, Music Director and music teacher.
- Shuvro Dev, playback singer
- Syed Ahmed, a British TV personality
- Humayun Rashid Choudhury, former Speaker, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh.
- Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury, former advisor to the President of Bangladesh and minister.
- Abdus Samad Azad, former Foreign Minister of Bangladesh.
- Suranjit Sengupta, former Railway Minister of Bangladesh.
- Saifur Rahman, former Finance Minister of Bangladesh.
- Abdul Malik, cardiologist and National Professor of Bangladesh.
- Shah A M S Kibria, former Finance Minister of Bangladesh.
- M A Khan, former DCMLA and Communications and Agriculture Minister of Bangladesh.
- General M A G Osmany, former commander-in-chief of the Bangladesh Muktibahini (Liberation Forces).
- Mahmud Ali, freedom movement leader, statesman, journalist.
- Jamilur Reza Choudhury, professor.
- Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Finance Minister of Bangladesh.
- Nurul Islam Nahid, Education Minister of Bangladesh.
In popular culture
- Monica Ali's novel, Brick Lane (2003), explored the British Bangladeshi community in London, who are mostly from Sylhet Division. It was adapted as a film by the same name, released in 2007.
- In season 4, episode 6, of Call the Midwife, the midwives tend to a woman from the Sylhet Division.
- এক নজরে সিলেট বিভাগ. sylhetdiv.gov.bd (in Bengali).
- "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". hdi.globaldatalab.org. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
- Sylhet, Bangladesh Archived 19 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.St.Albans District Council.
- Gardner, Katy (July 1992). "International migration and the rural context in Sylhet". New Community. 18 (4): 579–590. doi:10.1080/1369183X.1992.9976331.
- "September 2006&hidType=HIG&hidRecord=0000000000000000126877 Bangladesh Web.com". bangladesh-web.com.
- "Faith – Bangladeshi London". BBC London. Retrieved 27 May 2005.
- Pavla Navrátilová (7 August 2007). "Postcolonial Issues in Monica Ali's 'Brick Lane' (Bachelor Thesis)". MASARYK UNIVERSITY BRNO. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
- Sajahan Miah (2012). "Sylhet Division". In Sirajul Islam and Ahmed A. Jamal. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
- Sylhet Itibritta, Syed Mujtaba Ali
- "Bangladesh – The Holy Land of Hindu and Buddhist Pilgrim=". Indo Link.
- Abdul Karim (2012). "Shah Jalal (R)". In Sirajul Islam and Ahmed A. Jamal. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
- Kānunago, Sunīti Bhūshaṇa (1988). A History of Chittagong. Dipankar Qanungo. p. 476. OCLC 20170473.
- Syed Murtaja Ali, Shreehatte Itibritta
- Syed Mujtaba Ali Visva-Bharati
- Islam, Tasiqul (2012). "Hasan Raja". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
- Siddiquee, Iqbal (4 March 2008). "Radha Raman Utshab held in Sylhet". The Daily Star. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
- "Documentary on Shah Abdul Karim to be screened at Kolkata". The Daily Star. 26 August 2008.
- Zahangir Alom (7 September 2014). "Sunset Of A Music Maestro". The Daily Star.
- একুশে পদক পাচ্ছেন সুনামগঞ্জের সুষমা দাস. sunamkantha.com (in Bengali). 14 February 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
- "The Graveyard of Salman Shah". The Daily Star. 31 October 2003.
- Gayen, Kaberi (20 November 2007). সঞ্জীবদা 'ভুল দরজায়' আর কড়া নাড়বেন না. Prothom Alo (in Bengali). Mahfuz Anam. p. 11.
- "'Call The Midwife' Season 4 Premiere: Nurse Barbara Learns About Culture As Cynthia Returns In Sneak Peek [VIDEO]". ENSTARZ.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Sylhet Division.|