River Gypsies in Bangladesh

River gypsies are an ethnic group of people in Bangladesh.They are known as bedey to local people. The gypsies have their own lifestyle and culture. They live in groups and do not own any land. Therefore, they live a nomadic life, travelling from one place to another. These people roam across our rivers and waters from May to December in small country boats. These boats are their houses and these people are a part of our waters. In winter, many water bodies dry up. At that time they return to the mainland and live in make-shift tarpaulin tents on open river banks. You can see their men relaxing in the tents. Toddlers play with dogs or other pets in the dust. Women often idle away time by hair doing, picking off lice in twos or threes sitting in a row.

Throughout the monsoon, they remain busy with fishing. They also dive for natural pearls in waters. Sometimes, they camp for a couple of weeks. Men catch snakes and entertain people with snake charming and sell herbal cures. Women go from door to door to sell bangles, cosmetics and other things. They also try to heal pains of old people often by sucking out blood from
their body.

Many villagers believe in the magical power of the gypsies. They can make an evil spirit leave someone’s body by magic or special powers.