Women footballers paint Dhaka Red and Green
Open top bus parades are conventional in Europe, where World Cup winners like Germany, Spain and Italy and Champions League giants like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and AC Milan have made such celebrations customary.
But in Bangladesh, the women footballers' historic conquest of the SAFF Women's Championship provided a rare chance for the nation to serenade its own champions on their homecoming on Wednesday.
Fans flooded social media with requests for a reception in response to a post on social media by Sanjida Akhter. The midfielder reminded on her post that this team was made up of players from all across the country and that their success belonged to the entire nation.
When this reporter reached the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, where the players would embark on a bus ride to the BFF House in Motijheel, the VIP exit was already packed with fans chanting the names of the players.
A woman said she left a class at university to watch the final.
"When the final started, I was in class. I requested my teacher and he allowed me after some initial resistance. I was the only one in our university cafeteria screaming and shouting," she said, adding how she was inspired by the footballers. "As a woman, every day is a challenge. The way these girls have shattered those barriers makes me feel stronger as a human being."
An ardent cricket fan who paints his face like a Tiger and attends cricket matches regularly, was also present. He promised to never miss another game featuring the women's football team. As soon as the bus started, it was hustle and bustle all the way from departure to end.
Thousands of fans stood wherever they could find space to greet the South Asian champions, with the music blaring from the bus and a marching band beating drums and blowing trumpets behind them creating the illusion of a festival moving through town.
"Now I hope everyone will be able to understand that one should not look down upon any form of job."
As the bus glided down Uttara, it was difficult for cars to keep up due to the number of pedestrians in the way. Those who could not find space on the walkways had stepped halfway onto the main road. The players waved them back and threw flower petals at fans as a way of expressing their gratitude.
Between interactions, players would jump around and dance to the popular track of West Indian cricketers Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle, 'Champions'.
From Uttara to Mohakhali, the number of fans continued to increase. Every single foot over bridge on the way to the BFF premises was filled with fans desperate for a close-up of Sabina and Co.
Further down the road, people of all ages and from all echelons of society eagerly waited. When the bus drew to the horizon, they immediately broke into cheers in sheer excitement.
Bijoy Smarani is famous for congestion, but Dhaka's commuters were probably excited to be stuck in traffic for the first time when the bus came down the other side of the street. People immediately began to exit their vehicles, hoping to get a snap of the champions.
As the sun began to set, the nightlights of the metropolis only fueled excitement in areas like Tejgaon, Kakrail and Motijheel. Captain Sabina Khatun held and lifted the SAFF Championship trophy for the fans all the way from start to finish, ensuring everyone would have a memory with the prize.
As the open-top bus parade reached the BFF office, it found thousands more waiting to welcome them home while camera flashes from all around set the tone for a glorious future for women's football.