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The Chakma people (also called Changma people) are an ethnic group closely related to the Daingnet people who are distributed throughout Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and West Bengal of India and in Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. Today, the geographic distribution of Chakmas is spread across Bangladesh and parts of northeastern India, western Burma, and diaspora communities in Yunnan, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

Chakmas
Rega, a Chakma woman.jpg
A Chakma woman
Total population
743,110[1][2][3] (2011)
Regions with significant populations
Bangladesh,[4] India[5] and Myanmar
Languages
Chakma, Bengali, English
Religion
Theravada Buddhism
Portuguese map of Chittagong Hill Tracts. Chacomas on the Eastern bank of the river Karnaphuli and Arracam (present Rakhine State of Myanmar) can be seen on the extreme right

The Chakmas are one of the indigenous Jumma peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. They are the largest ethnic group there and make up half of the region's population. The Chakmas are divided into 46 clans or Gozas. They have their own language, customs and culture, and practice Theravada Buddhism. The community is headed by the Chakma Raja.

Contents

EtymologyEdit

The name Chakma derives from Sanskrit word Sakthiman, or beholder of power.[6] This name was given to Chakmas by one of the Burmese kings during the Bagan era. Burmese kings hired Chakmas as ministers, advisers and translators of Buddhist Pali texts. As employees of the king, the Chakmas wielded power in Burmese court disproportionate to their number. The Burmese people still refer to Chakmas as Sak or Thit which are shortened and corrupted forms of Sakthiman. At one stage, the accepted name of the tribe was Sakma. Later it was further corrupted to Chakma.[7]

Ethnic originsEdit

Chakmas are Tibeto-Burman, and are thus closely related to tribes in the foothills of the Himalayas. The Chakmas are believed to be originally from greater Arakan Yoma North, presently Chin State, who later on immigrated to Bangladesh in the fifteenth century, settling in the Cox's Bazar District, the Korpos Mohol area, and in the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Mizoram.[citation needed]

GeneticsEdit

The Chakma possess strong genetic affinities to Tibeto-Burman groups in Northeast India and to East Asian populations. They also have high frequencies of mainland Indian genetic ancestry.[8]

HistoryEdit

The Arakanese referred to the Chakmas as Saks, Theks, or Thaikhs. In 1546 CE, while the Arakanese king Meng Beng was engaged in a battle with the Burmese, the Sak king attacked Northern Arakan Roma and occupied the Arakanese-controlled Chacomas of the Northern Arakan Mountains.[9]

Diego de Astor created a map of Bengal which was published as Descripção do Reino de Bengalla in the book Quarta decada da Asia (Fourth decade of Asia) by João de Barros in 1615.[10] The map shows a place called Chacomas on the Eastern bank of the Karnaphuli river in what is now Chittagong, Bangladesh, suggesting that the Chakmas inhabited this area during this time.

The Arakan king Meng Rajagri (1593–1612 ) conquered these areas and addressed himself as the highest and most powerful king of Arakan, Chacomas and Bengal in a 1607 letter to a Portuguese merchant named Philip de Brito Nicote.[11] After the defeat by the Arakanese, the Chakmas migrated to the present Chittagong Hill Tracts and founded their capital city Alekyangdong (present-day Alikadam). From Alekyangdong, they continued North and settled the present-day Rangunia, Raozan, and Fatikchari upazilas of Chittagong District.

In 1666, Mughal Governor of Bengal Shaista Khan defeated the Arakanese, conquered the Northern bank of Kaladan river, and renamed it Islamabad.[12] However, Mughal rule was confined only to the plain areas of Chittagong early on, leaving the Chakmas largely unaffected. The Mughals eventually demanded tribute from the Chakmas after a trade dispute developed between the two groups. [13]

In 1713, the conflict was resolved, and a stable relationship developed between the Chakmas and the Mughals; the latter never demanded complete subjugation from the former. The Mughals also rewarded the Chakma king Shukdev Roy; he established a new capital in his own name, in an area still known as Shukbilash. Ruins of the royal palace and other historic buildings still exist. Subsequently, the capital was shifted to Rajanagar, Ranirhat, Rangunia Upazila, Chittagong District.

The East India CompanyEdit

The Mughals signed a treaty with Jallal Khan, Raja of the Chakma, in 1715. While the Mughals controlled significant amounts of yam and cotton crops in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), its independence from the Mughals was recognized.

The British government also received payment from the Chakmas and recognized their kingdom as independent.[14] The CHT was guaranteed and delineated their own tribal preserve area by the treaties between the King of the Chakma and the British.

A war broke out in 1777-1789 between the East India Company and the Chakmas. In exchange for leaving the Chakmas as tributaries and giving them autonomy, the British received an oath from Jan Baksh Khan, king of all Chakmas in 1787.[15]

Three years after the Battle of Plassey, Mir Qasim, the new Nawab of Murshidabad, rewarded the East India Company with Chittagong, Burdwan and Midnapur. On January 5, 1761 the company representative Harry Verelst took charge of Chittagong from Subedar Mohammad Reza Khan. But the Chakma king Sher Doulat Khan, who was practically independent though nominally paid tribute to the Mughals, didn't accept the hegemony of the Company and their demand of taxes at enhanced rate. A protracted war started and continued until 1787. The East India Company launched four offensives against the Chakmas in 1770, 1780, 1782 and 1785. In 1785 the Company started peace negotiations with the Chakma king Jan Baksh Khan, son of Sher Doulat Khan. Later in 1787 the king accepted the sovereignty of the Company and agreed to pay 500 Maunds of cotton annually. The peace treaty was signed at Kolkata.[16]

The main provisions of the treaty between Governor General Lord Cornwallis and the Chakma king were as follows:[17]

  • The East India Company recognised Jan Baksh Khan as the Raja of the Chakmas.
  • It was agreed that the collection of revenue was the responsibility of the Raja.
  • The British Government would preserve the tribal autonomy and migration from the plains would be restricted.
  • Jan Baksh Khan was bound by the treaty to maintain peace in his territory.
  • British troops would remain in the Chakma territory not to terrify the Chakmas but to protect the land from hostile tribes.

In 1829, Halhed, then Commissioner of Chittagong reaffirmed that:

The hill tribes were not British subjects but merely tributaries and we recognized no right on our part to interfere with their internal arrangements. The near neighbourhood of a powerful and stable government naturally brought the Chief by degree under control and every leading chief paid to the Chittagong collector a certain tribute or yearly gifts. These sums were at first fluctuating in amount but gradually were brought to specific and fixed limit, eventually taking the shape not as tribute but as revenue to the state.[18]

Jan Baksh Khan shifted his capital to a new place, naming it Rajanagar, near present-day Rangunia. After Jan Baksh's death in 1800, his son Tabbar Khan became king but died shortly thereafter. In 1802 Tabbar Khan's younger brother Jabbar Khan became king and ruled for ten years. After his death, his son Dharam Baksh Khan became king in 1812 and ruled until his death in 1832. Without any any male heir there was chaos, and the government appointed Suklal Dewan as the Manager. Rani Kalindi, widow of Dharam Baksh Khan, applied to the government to allow her to run state affairs. The government accepted her application, and in 1844 issued an order to that effect.[19] In 1846 the annual revenue payable to the Company was refixed at 11,803.00Rs. Today, the Chakma people are predominantly followers of Theravada Buddhism due to 19th century reforms and institutionalization by regent Queen Rani Kalindi.

After the great Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, the British Government assumed direct control of the administration of India from the East India Company along with the Chittagong Hill Tracts, which was not yet formally separated from Chittagong. But the territorial jurisdiction of the Chakma Raja was fixed by a proclamation dated 6th Shraavana 1170M.S (1763 CE) by the Company as "All the hills from the Feni river to the Sangoo and from Nizampur Road in Chittagong to the hills of Kooki Raja".[20]

After Rani Kalindi's death in 1873, her grandson Harish Chandra became the Chakma Raja and was vested with the title Roy Bahadur.

British colonial ruleEdit

After the war with the English, the Chakmas became very weak militarily.

The Lushai used to make frequent murderous raids on the British subjects on the grounds that their hunting ground was converted to a tea garden by the British in Cacher, Noakhali, Comilla and other neighbouring tracts under Rani Kalindi. They raided Chittagong Hill Tracts and the neighbouring tracts in 1847, 1848, 1859 and 1860.[21] As a consequence, with a view to paying the necessary attention to the areas of the front areas experiencing repeated raids and to protecting the people from the aggression of the independent tribes living further east but primarily to occupy the Chakma land, the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal recommended the removal of the hill tracts from the regulation district and the appointment of a superintendent over the tribes. Both these recommendations were adopted by act XXII in 1860 which came into effect on August 18 of that year.[21] Thus the Hill Tracts were separated from Chittagong district, a superintendent was appointed for Chittagong Hill Tracts, and its headquarters were established at Chandraghona. The hills in his charge were henceforth known by the name of the Hill Tracts of Chittagong. For the next few years attention was directed to the preservation of peace on the frontier. In 1869 the headquarters were shifted to Rangamati. The official designation of the post of superintendent was changed to Deputy Commissioner and full control of all matters pertaining to both revenue and justice throughout the Hill Tracts was vested in his office.

The frontier situation put pressure on the Chakma chief to shift his capital, and ultimately in 1874 it was shifted from Rajanagar to Rangamati. At that time cotton was grown in Chittagong Hill Tracts and was important to the British for their mills. Therefore effective control of Chittagong Hill Tracts was also important for them.

In 1881 the government decided to divide Chittagong Hill Tracts into Chakma Circle, Bohmong Circle, and Mong Circle.

Each circle was headed by a chief.[22] Chakma circle was headed by a Chakma, Bohmong circle by a Bohmong and the Burmese circle by a Mong. The Chakma circle was centrally located and inhabited mainly by the Chakmas, the Bohmong circle was under the rule of a Bohmong chief of Arakanese extraction, and the Mong circle was also inhabited by Arakanese speaking clans with a sprinkling of Tripura immigrants and headed by another ruler of Arakanese extraction. The reason for this division was that the British government was not in favour of the strong power of the Chakma Chief who held control over these hilly tribes. Further, the government was feeling increasingly concerned about the political and administrative affairs of these tracts. Hence they wished to lay the foundation of administration in a restricted manner with the following basic objectives[22]:

  • To supervise the rule of the Chakma chief and also to curtail some of his powers.
  • To protect British subjects from the Kuki (the name given to the Lushai by the British).
  • To preserve peace in the frontier areas so that cotton could be grown and made available for their mills.

After the creation of a separate district and also the three circles, the Kuki (Lushai) threat to the Chittagong Hill Tracts and other adjoining areas did not stop. The Shendus, another tribe, made occasional raids in the Hill Tracts between 1865 and 1888 and killed many people including the massacre of Lt. Steward and his survey party. In 1872, 1,890 military offensives were launched simultaneously into Lushai Hills (Mizoram) from Chittagong district and Burma in collaboration with the governments of Bengal, Assam and Burma, and the whole of Kookie land was brought under British control.

Autonomous police forces were created from the Hill Tract tribes in 1881. Tribals complained to Britain after the Hill Tracts experienced attempts at penetration by lowlander Bengali Muslims.[15]

On 1 April 1900, the South and the North Lushai Hills (then a part of Chittagong Hill Tracts) were merged to form the district of Assam province with headquarters at Aizawl.[23] The Lushai hills are now the present day Mizoram state of India.

Later, the British through the Deputy Commissioner took over absolute power in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (including the Chakma circle) after implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts manual. The Chittagong Hill Tracts (Lushai Hills) were again designated an "Excluded Area" under the British India Act of 1935.[24]

An independent state was demanded for the Chittagong Hill Tract by local tribes due to the fact that Bengalis and the tribals did not share a religion, language, or ethnicity, and they asked for their own independent area in the 1930s when the Indian national movement was launched. In the event of Indian independence, the tribals were guaranteed by Britain that the Chittagong Hill Tracts would be split off separately, since World War II was happening and the Japanese were attacking.[15]

Modern timesEdit

In British India, there was a measure of security and protection afforded for the non-Muslim and non-Bengali Chittagong Hill Tract Chakmas and other tribal people.[25] Bengal and Assam did not govern the CHT during this period. Rather the CHT was a distinct administrative unit that enjoyed a large degree of self-rule.[26]

Despite the CHT being 97.2%-98.5% non-Muslim, it was given to Pakistan by the Boundary Commission Chairman Sir Cyril Radcliffe in 1947 upon independence.[26] Native Chakmas made up most of the officials except for some British during British India rule.[27] Pakistan received the CHT from Radcliffe after the issue of Punjab districts and the CHT revised boundaries were pushed onto him by Lord Mountbatten on 17 August 1947.[28] The decision by Radcliffe to draw this boundary paved the way for future war, violence, and conflict.[29] The British awarded "Excluded area" was downgraded to "Tribal Area" in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.[30] The Bangladeshi Constitution does not refer to any group (inclusive of Bengalis) as indigenous.[31]

Many Buddhist Chakmas migrated from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to India.[32] Projects for infrastructure development negatively impacted CHT tribals starting in the 1950s.[33] The Kaptai Dam development project negatively effected the CHT tribals.[34] Chakmas made up 90% of 10,000 people whose farmland of 54,000 acres was flooded in 1962 by the Karnafuli reservoir and Kaptai Dam. Inept relocation and insufficient compensation were offered to the Chakmas for the dam.[35] 100,000 Chakmas had their lives ruined by their farmland being flooded by over 40% by the US Agency of International Development's hydro-electric dam in East Pakistan.[25] The Chittagong Hill Tracts Chakma population was estimated at 250,000 in 1964. The CHT was described as filled with fountains of water, hilly, forested, and with a verdant green landscape.[36] A deputy commissioner administered the Chittagong Hill Tracts Division under Pakistani rule.

Autonomy was requested in 1970 by Manabendra Narayan Larma. India used NEFA as a resettlement area for Chakma refugees.[citation needed] The India Tripura state had to deal with the issue of Chakma families.[37] Agriculture, employment and education are heavily dominated by Chakmas compared to Arunachal natives since they are more skilled and have a higher literacy rate.[38] The issue of returning Chakma refugees from India to Bangladesh was brought up in 1995.[39] The hill tribes conflict with Bangladesh caused the exodus to India from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of 50,000 Chakmas. It was arranged that Bangladesh would take them back in a 1992 deal between India and Bangladesh.[40] Indian based Chakma refugees were to be returned in the 9 March 1997 peace pact between Chakmas and Bangladesh after being facilitated by a 12 December 1996 agreement over the Ganges river border shared by Bangladesh and India.[41] Both East Pakistan's partition and Bangladesh's independence caused India to experience an influx of Chakma refugees.[42]

Tridiv Roy continued his collaboration with the Pakistani occupation forces and rejected the idea of joining the freedom movement of Bangladesh. Pakistani president Yahya Khan assigned a southeast Asian diplomatic post to Tridiv Roy during the war as a reward of his collaboration betraying with the tribal population and Bangladeshis. Fearing the likely democratic rule in an independent Bangladesh and possibility of losing his feudal interests made him side with the Pakistanis. Pakistan retained support and allegiance in exchange for the capital of CHT, Rangmati, to stay free from artillery shelling in an agreement made by Roy on March 25.[43] It was believed that the new Bangladesh would not award autonomy to CHT by Roy and the Chakmas and Roy earned the enmity of the Awami League by his rejection of Sheikh Mujib's offer to him to stand as the Awami League candidate.[44] Pakistan retained the allegiance of Roy. Autonomy was refused to the CHT tribals.[45] CHT hills people were enrolled as Mujahids and Razakars by the Pakistan army during the 1971 war.[35] The Bangladesh government provided financial support for thousands of Bengalis to settle in the tracts. By 1981, a third of the population of the tracts were Bengali migrants.[46][47] Demands to halt Bengali settlement, have Bengali settlers return lands back to the CHT natives, and autonomy was requested by the PCJSS Chittagong Hill Tracts Peoples Solidarity Association which was founded by Chakmas.[47] PCJSS stood for the "Parbattya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti". On January 7, 1973 Shanti Bahini was founded as the military army of PCJSS.[48] Shanti Bahini resisted the Bengali army in 1975 and was led by Manabendra Narayan Larma.[49] Peace Force (Shanti Bahini) was created in 1973 due to the estrangement between the government of Bangladesh and the Chakma.[50] Jumma guerillas made up Shanti Bahini forces.[51] The party heads of PCJSS are mostly Chakma due to their 59% literacy rate which is more than other CHT tribes, so they control the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti.[52] In the 1960s, hundreds of Muslim families from other parts of East Pakistan were resettled in the Matamuhuri Valley's region of Alikadam, Feni Valley's regions of Belchari and Tulanchari, and the regions of Lama, Bandarban, and Ramgarh.[53]

During the war, the "majority of the Phadis remained passive throughout the nine months of the liberation war" although the Mukti Bahini enrolled some and in 1971, the Pakistan army enrolled CHT hill men. After the war Tridiv Roy maintained his allegiance to Pakistan which he supported in the 1971 war.[54] In 1970 he served as independent in the Parliament of Pakistan while serving as Raja of the Chakma.[55] The Awami League candidate of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman lost the election to Roy in the Parliament of Pakistan.[56] Roy was in Southeast Asia when Bangladesh came under Indian army control in December 1971. Bhutto assigned the position of Minorities Affairs Minister to Roy and he helped lobby in the United Nations (UN) for Pakistan after the war. The post of ambassador and tourism were also awarded to Tridiv.[citation needed] Roy represented Pakistan when it protested at the UN over Bangladesh.[57] Pakistan retained the allegiance of only Noor ul Amin and Tridiv Roy among their East Pakistan MPs.[58] Tridiv refused to join Bangladesh since the hill tracts were not granted autonomy and stayed on Pakistan's side despite Mujib trying to urge Tridiv to quit Pakistan.[58]

Refuge in IndiaEdit

Meghalaya and Tripura were destinations of Buddhist Chakma refugees fleeing from the war started by plains dwelling Muslim Bangladeshi settling the CHT as well as the government of Bangladesh implementing a military police force to expel Chittagong Hill Tracts natives.[59] "The Muslim World" complained about alleged immigration from Bangladesh to Arakan by Buddhists of Magh and Chakma background.[60]

Garo people were stripped of their property by the XLVI Vested and Non-President Property Act by Bangladesh in 1974 and affected by the 1964 Enemy Property Ordinance.[61] Lands in CHT have been taken by Bengali colonists and the hill peoples of the CHT have not been afforded any cultural and ethnic recognition and sympathy from the various military and democratic administrations ruling Bangladesh, despite culture and ethnicity being used as an argument against Pakistan by Bengalis during the war.[25] A 1997 peace agreement ended the over twenty year long war on autonomy between Bangladesh and the Chittagong Hill Tracts Jumma inhabitants.[62] The Chittagong Hill Tracts showed that only Bengalis were to be beneficiaries of Bengali nationalism and its "liberalism" which was aimed only against the hegemony of Pakistan. Even the "pro-minority" and participant of the CHT peace agreement, the Awami League, refused to grant the status of Adibashi, declaring that Bengali is the nationality and Bangladeshi is the citizenship per the constitution, and refused to acknowledge the fact that Bangladesh had indigenous peoples. Bengali nationalism is part of the BNP's ideology. Jumma nationalism was spawned from Bengali nationalism due to the hegemony exerted by the Bengalis.[63] Because the Bangladesh independence movement received apathy from the CHT Jummas, they were deemed as unfaithful by the Bengalis. The natives of CHT were ignored when the Rangmati Kaptai Dam was financed by the World Bank.[64] No autonomy was awarded to the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the Bangladesh Constitution of 1972.[65] The Chakma conflict is both a religious and ethnic problem in Bangladesh.[66] [67] The Chittagong Hill tracts saw tribal Chakma leave the area due to religious and ethnic strife by Bangladesh's Islamisation policy. The Chittagong Hill Tracts was colonized by Northern Myanmar and Bangladesh originating Muslims.[68] The label "genocidal" has been used to describe actions by the government of Bangladesh upon the non-Islamic Chittagong Hill Tracts Jumma natives.[69]

Like in India Tripura State, the Chakmas have lived in the modern state of Bangladesh much before it gained its independence. However, recent migrations of ethnic Bengalis into traditionally Chakma regions of Bangladesh have raised tensions in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Successive governments have dealt forcefully with Chakma uprisings, and finally ended the conflict with The 1997 Peace Treaty. This forceful dealing and the construction of Kaptai Dam by then Pakistan government in Chakma areas submerged cultivable lands and displaced thousands, resulted in the migration of a large population of Chakmas into Diyun the state of Arunachal Pradesh of the present Indian Union during 1964-1969.[70]

In February 1972, Prime Ministers of India and Bangladesh issued a joint statement by virtue of which the Government of India took a decision to confer citizenship on the Chakmas under Section 5(1)(a) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 but the state of Arunachal Pradesh had reservations. Chakma were thus allowed to be rehabilitated under the decision of the Indian government. The Election Commission of India framed guidelines to enable Chakmas to have the right to vote by having their names enrolled in the electoral rolls of the constituency where they have been settled.[71]

Indian representationEdit

The Chakmas now have representation in the Mizoram General Assembly, Tipura Legislative Assembly[72] and Tripura Tribal Area Autonomous District Council.[73] The only seat of political power and identity is the Chakma Autonomous District Council given in India, which however is questioned by the Mizo people on being legitimate. There are another 80,000 Chakmas in Rakhine state of Myanmar. The Chakmas in Myanmar are known as Daingnet people.

In September 2015, Supreme Court of India passed a judgment directing the government of India and of Arunachal Pradesh to grant India citizenship rights to all the Chakmas holding that they could not be discriminated against any other Indian.[71]

The Bengali related Indo-Aryan Chittagonian transformed the Changma Vaj language into Eastern-Indo Aryan from its Tibeto-Burman origins. The people themselves as classified as Mongoloid. Hinduism and Theravada Buddhism are the religions of the Chakma.[citation needed] Now it is classified as Indo-Aryan.[74]

ReligionEdit

The vast majority of the Chakma are followers of Theravada Buddhism, a religion that they have been practising for centuries.

Almost every Chakma village has a Buddhist Vihar (Kiyong). Buddhist priests or monks are called Bhikhus. They preside at religious festivals and ceremonies. The villagers support their monks with food, gifts, and offerings to Buddha. The Chakmas also worship Hindu deities. Sri Mahalakshmi, for example, is worshipped as the Goddess of the Harvest.

Chakmas offer the sacrifice of goats, chickens, or ducks to calm the spirits that are believed to bring fevers and disease. Even though animal sacrifice is against Buddhist beliefs, the Chakma Buddhist priests ignore the practice.

LanguageEdit

Originally speaking a language belonging to the Tibeto-Burman family, some of the Chakmas have been influenced by neighbouring Chittagonian, an Eastern Indo-Aryan language closely related to Assamese. Many linguists now consider the modern Chakma language (known as Changma Vaj or Changma Hodha) part of the Eastern Indo-Aryan language. Changma Vaj is written in its own script, the Chakma script, also known as Ojhopath. Chakma is written in an alphabet which allowing for its cursive form, is almost identical with the Khmer and the Lanna (Chiangmai) characters, which was formerly in use in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and southern parts of Burma.

CultureEdit

 
Chakma handicrafts and fabrics are an attraction for many tourists in Chittagong Hill Tracts.

The Chakmas are people with their own culture, folklore, literature and traditions. The Chakma women wear an ankle length cloth around the waist which is also called Phinon and also a Haadi wrapped above the waist as well as silver ornaments. The Phinon and the Haadi are colourfully handwoven with various designs. The design is first embroidered on a piece of cloth known as Alaam. The first Bangladeshi Chakma language film, Mor Thengari, was directed by Aung Rakhine and was banned by Bangladesh's Censor Board.[75][76]

FestivalsEdit

The most important festivals celebrated by the Chakmas are Bizu, Alphaloni, Buddha Purnima and Kathin Civar Dan.

Chakmas celebrate various Buddhist festivals. The most important is Buddha Purnima. This is the anniversary of three important events in Buddha's life—his birth, his attainment of enlightenment, and his death. It is observed on the full moon day of the month of Vaisakha (usually in May).

On this and other festival days, Chakmas put on their best clothes and visit the temple. There, they offer flowers to the image of Buddha, light candles, and listen to sermons from the priests. Alms (offerings) are given to the poor, and feasts are held for the priests.

The three-day festival known as Bishu, which coincides with the Bengali New Year's Day, is celebrated with much enthusiasm. Houses are decorated with flowers, young children pay special attention to the elderly to win their blessings, and festive dishes are prepared for guests.

BizuEdit

Bizu is the most important socio-religious festival of the Chakma. This festival gave birth to the Bizu dance. The festival lasts for three days and begins one day before the last day of the month of Chaitra, falling in the month of April.[77] The first day is known as Phool Bizu. On this day, household items, clothes are cleaned and washed, food items are collected to give the house a new look with the veil of different flowers. The second day known as Mul Bizu. This day starts with the bath in the river. People wear new clothes and make rounds of the village. Women wear phinon and Haadi while men wear silum and dhudi. They also enjoy specially made vegetable curry known as "Pazon ton", different homemade sweets and take part in different traditional sports. The day ends with the Bizu dance.

The last day, which is known as Gojjepojje din involves the performances of different socio-religious activities. In the context of its nature some say that Bizu is a festival, which revolves around agricultural activities because it is celebrated in mid-April when the earth is just drenched with the first rain and the jum sowing is taken up. And it is believed that with the objective of getting rich harvest, worship of the earth was arranged, which later on took the form of a festival. However, of late it has lost its agricultural character.

AlphaloniEdit

Alphaloni is a most important day for Chakma people. During Alphaloni everyone takes a break from farming because it is harvest season. In Alphaloni all farmers take rest and also give rest to all animals, weapons of farmers. In this day they eat new food, fruits from jum (harvest), offer and share with each other. This day all people feel happy and enjoy with family, neighbors, relatives, etc. to offering new fruits from jum. It is a historical day for Chakma people; they have celebrated this festival for 2500 years.

It is an old tradition from the reign of King Śuddhodana, father of Siddhartha (Buddha). This is old festival2500 years ago when the prince Siddharta was meditating under tree, on the other side had celebrating plough festival (Alphaloni) their farmer parents and relatives etc.

During that time he was practicing meditation and seeking an end to all suffering.

Buddha PurnimaEdit

It is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Vaisakha. It encompasses the birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and passing away (Parinirvāna) of Lord Buddha. On the day of the worship devotees go to the monastery with Siyong (offerings of rice, vegetable and other fruits and confectionaries). The Buddhist priests known as Bhikkhu lead the devotees for chanting of mantra composed in Pali in praise of the holy triple gem: the Buddha, the Dharma (his teachings), and the Sangha (his disciples). Apart from this, other practices such as lighting thousands of lamps and releasing Phanuch Batti (an auspicious lamp made of paper in the form of a balloon) are also done as and when possible.

FoodEdit

Bamboo shoot is a traditional food of the Chakma people.They call it "Bajchuri". Shrimp paste and Fish paste are their traditional ingredient of cooking. They call these, "Sidol".

The staple food of the Chakmas is rice, supplemented by millet, corn (maize), vegetables, and mustard. Vegetables include yams, pumpkins, melons, and cucumbers. Vegetables and fruit gathered from the forest may be added to the diet. Fish, poultry, and meat are eaten, despite the fact that many Buddhists are vegetarians.

Traditional diets have slowly been abandoned, as the Chakmas have been forced to flee their homeland. Some typical Chakma dishes include fish, vegetables, and spices stuffed into a length of bamboo and cooked in a low fire; foods wrapped in banana leaves and placed beside a fire; and eggs that are aged until they are rotten.

Sports and gamesEdit

Gudu hara, or Ha-do-do, is a game played throughout the Chakma region. Two teams stand on either side of a central line. They take turns sending a player into opposing territory to touch as many people as he or she can during the space of one breath, while at the same time saying "Ha-do-do." If the player runs out of breath or is caught by his or her opponents, he or she is out. On the other hand, if the player successfully returns to his or her own territory, the players he or she has tagged must leave the game.

Ghilay Hara is a game that can be played between two teams or two individuals. A special type of seed called ghilay is used to play this game. Ghilay seeds are found and grown in wild forests of hills, and are similar to bean seeds but bigger in size. When time comes, the large beans dry out and the seeds known as ghilay are ready to be collected for use in the game.

Other pastimes include Nadeng Hara, played with a spinning top, and various wrestling games. Potti Hara is a complex traditional game that is played by two teams. Due to how sophisticated its rules are, it's becoming less and less common.

These games are enjoyed by girls and boys alike, but in recent times their popularity among youth Chakma peoples has declined.

Notable peopleEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Chakma (people)". Encyclopædia Britannica. The majority of Chakmas—numbering about 300,000—remained there [in the Chittagong Hills] into the 21st century. If about 300,000 was a majority, then the total population was no more than about 600,000 as of 2001.
  2. ^ Bhuiyan, Muhammad Masudur Rahman (2012). "Noakhali Sadar Upazila". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. The tribal population [of Bangladesh] in 2001 was 1.4 million, which was about 1.13% of the total population. The figure was 1.2 million in 1991, of which chakma population was 252,258 If the Chakma population grew at the same rate as the tribal population overall, their 2001 population in Bangladesh would have been about 288,300.
  3. ^ "Statistical Profile of Scheduled Tribes in India 2013" (PDF). Ministry of Tribal Affairs. Government of India. Mizoram: 19,554 ... Tripura: 18,014 ... Meghalaya: 44 ... Assam: 430 ... West Bengal: 211 Total population in India: 38,253.
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