Bedeni : The Bede Women

Bede is a nomadic ethnic group of Bangladesh. They used to live, travel and earn their living on the river. Nowadays due to change of socio-economic aspect and the decreasing river in our country they started settling down in makeshift temporary shelters they call home.

The majority of the Bedes live on snake related trading, such as snake charming, snake catching, snake selling etc. They also sell lucky heathers and 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.

The majority of this community is female and it is women who bear the burden of making a living for the family. Men usually stay at home and live off their partner’s income. Bede women mainly wear bright colorful clothes with their traditional jewelleries such as Nolok / Nak Ful(Nose Pin), Churi(Bangles), Kaner(Ear Rings) and Locket. Although simple and eye-catchy, their dressups are rather unusual to general people. Bede people always prefer the traditional attire so that they can strongly maintain the community bondage.

Gradually over the years and in the recent past, Bangladesh is experiencing rapid urbanization and even the rural inhabitants not only gradually as accustomed with hygienic and decent living but also became inclined towards adaptation of modern way of life. Such social changes that has happened due to advancement of technology and medical science even force the Bede community to become professionally and economically vulnerable and marginalized as neither the traditional age-old indigenous treatment and spiritual healing nor use of talisman could anymore attract someone or acceptable generally.