The Bengali People

Bengal tiger face kidThe ethnic people inhabiting Bengal who speak the Bengali language and follow the culture and traditions of Bengal may be called Bengalis or Bengali people.

Their history goes back to more than two thousand years and they may be said to belong to the Indo-Aryan community of South Asia. The Bengali or rather Bengal is known for superior intellect, rich cultural heritage and excellence in art and literature. Bengal has produced renowned poets, film directors, singers, actors, and musicians. Of the Indians who have done India proud by winning the Nobel, the majority have been Bengalis. With Muhammad Yunus winning the 2006 Nobel peace prize, another Bengali has joined the illustrious ranks.


The history of Bengal may be traced back to 100 B.C. when it was first mentioned by the Greeks who referred to it as Gangaridai (Land of the Ganges). Bengal’s first Buddhist king Gopala-1 was elected to the throne in 705 A.D.; this is probably the first time democratic elections were held to elect a head of state in South Asia.

Muslims came to Bengal in early 13th century and Bengal was ruled by different Mughal Dynasties till about mid 1700s when the great Mughal Empire fell to the East India Company and Calcutta became the centre of Indian culture and trade. In 1877 Victoria assumed the title of Empress of India and the British declared Calcutta as their capital.

The British divided Bengal along the Hindu and Muslim lines and along with the Indian independence came the birth of Muslim dominated East Pakistan and the predominantly Hindu state of West Bengal in India. After the war of Independence in 1971, East Pakistan became Bangladesh.

List of some illustrious Bengalis

  • Rabindra Nath Tagore: Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913
  • Satyajeet Ray: Oscar for Life time Achievement
  • Muhammad Yunus: Nobel Peace Prize
  • Amartya Sen: Economist and Nobel Laureate, 1998
  • Kazi Nazrul Islab: National poet of Bengal
  • Saurav Ganguly: Former Indian cricket captain
  • Jhumpa Lahiri: Author

Leave a Comment

XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>