â€œGreetings from the land of smiles,â€ is Bangladeshi photographer Noor Ahmed Gelalâ€™s typical welcome.
But this simple greeting carries a lot of meaning as Gelal is dedicated to showing the world a side of Bangladesh that he feels is too often misrepresented â€“ the beautiful, diverse and harmonious side of his country.
â€œBangladesh is a land of cultural diversity,â€ Gelal says. â€œThough most of the people are Muslim, it is a country of communal harmony. Since I also love to work through travel and documentary photography, I want to represent Bangladesh as the culturally diverse land that it is.â€
In 2015, Gelalâ€™s image, â€œCongregational Prayerâ€ won the Siena International Photography Festivalâ€™s â€œOpen Colorâ€ category. The photograph (below) shows a congregation where a section of the Hindu community is preparing to break the daylong fast in one of the local temples at Swamigabag, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Noor said members of the congregation believe fasting will redeem their sins.
â€œCountless passions in my life are travel and photography,â€ Gelal wrote to me by email.
â€œA photograph tells millions more than a sentence. I do believe this from the core of my heart. Despite having eye-soothing natural beauty, hardworking happy people and colorful cultural festivals, Bangladesh is not well-represented in the global arena. I try to capture the intricate social fabric represented in peopleâ€™s work, culture and lifestyle through my photography. I am trying to showcase the positive Bangladesh to the international community.â€
I hope to travel to the Land of Smiles one day and experience authentic, diverse, beautiful and culturally rich Bangladesh for myself one day.
Thank you to Noor for sharing his images and for being an incredible cultural ambassador.
Go to Noor’s website atÂ http://noorgelal.photo/Â to learn more about him and his stunning photography.