BANGLADESH (2008-09): ISLAM
Bangladesh was founded as a separate state from India (then later, gained independence from Pakistan) because of its majority Muslim religion. However, the ancient Bengali language and culture have influenced the way it is practiced, as a tolerant belief that structures daily life through prayers, and serves as a social welfare safety net.
I visited several madrasas, which were in fact not only schools but homes and orphanages for children from birth through university age. They educate both girls and boys. I was even invited to attend and photograph daily recitation of the Koran. My first month there was Ramadan which was widely observed, so no food or water was available during the day. Luckily I was invited to festive evening meals with colleagues and students. The holiday of Eid marked the end of Ramadan, when women dressed up in new saris, and men new punjabi shirts, and resolutions for the new year were made.