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Banshphod


Banshphod a traditional ethnic occupational group engaged in bamboo crafts. The Banshphod make mats, baskets and other articles for markets and fairs. They are also called dom in some areas. One of their sections is also known as Kol. The Kols are usually dark-complexioned, short and of muscular frame. They have broad noses, wide nostrils and thick lips.

The Bansphod were originally nomadic, but have now settled in different parts of Bangladesh. Men and women work together. Besides bamboo work, they are also engaged in gathering food and catching jungle fowl. Many of them serve as low-paid employees in different offices. Generally they do not engage themselves in farming activities.

They have a matriarchal tradition of family life. Women choose their husbands from their own community and control family affairs. Bridegrooms who cannot pay the bride price have to stay with their fathers-in-law until they have done so.

The Bansphod are endogamous. Monogamy is the general practice, but polygamy is also prevalent. Divorce is permitted but must be approved by the Council of the Elders. A husband can divorce his wife on grounds of adultery. Remarriage, called sangga, is possible. Widow marriage is permitted, with the widow having to marry her late husband's younger brother. Marriage between first cousins' is prohibited.

Hindu by faith, the Bansphod may either burn or bury their dead. They do not eat beef, as they hold the cow sacred. They worship Vindhya, a hill god, as well as Durga, Kali and manasa, the serpent goddess. [Anwarul Karim]