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A Chakma woman
|Regions with significant populations|
|Bangladesh, India and Myanmar|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Indo-Aryan peoples, Sino-Tibetan peoples|
The Chakma people are the largest ethnic group in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region in southeastern Bangladesh, second largest in Mizoram and fourth largest in Tripura of North East India. Their ethnicity is closely linked with the peoples of East Asia. However, the Chakma language (written in the Chakma script) is part of the Indo-Aryan language family of the Indian subcontinent. Most Chakma people are adherents of Therevada Buddhism. The Chakmas are divided into 46 clans or Gozas. The community is headed by the Chakma Raja, whose status as a tribal head has been historically recognized by the Government of British India and the Government of Bangladesh.
Originally a nomadic community with a presence in Arakan, the Chakma settled in hills near coastal Chittagong and signed a treaty with Mughal Bengal in 1717. The government of British India provided tribal autonomy to the area which continued after the partition of India. During the construction of the Kaptai Dam in the 1960s, many Chakma settlements were submerged due to the creation of the artificial Kaptai Lake. In the mid-1970s, the eruption of the Chittagong Hill Tracts conflict caused some Chakma people to become refugees in NEFA (present Arunachal Pradesh). The conflict ended in 1997 with the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord. Today, Chakma communities are found in both Bangladesh and India. Notable Chakma people include Bhuvan Mohan Roy, Nalinaksha Roy, Benita Roy, Tridev Roy, Debashish Roy, Chandra Kalindi Roy Henriksen, Manabendra Narayan Larma, Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, Kalpana Chakma, Kanak Chanpa Chakma and Amit Chakma. Chakma people also serve as officers and ambassadors in Bangladesh's military and diplomatic corps.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Ethnic origins
- 3 History
- 4 Religion
- 5 Language
- 6 Culture
- 7 Festivals
- 8 Food
- 9 Sports and games
- 10 Notable people
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The name Chakma derives from the Sanskrit word Sakthiman, which means beholder of power. 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 altered to Chakma.
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 eighteenth century during Bamar tribal atrocities, finding refuge in the Cox's Bazar District, the Korpos Mohol area, and in the Indian states of, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh in the 1960s.
The Arakanese people referred to the Chakmas as Saks, Theks, or Thaikhs. In 1546 CE, while the Arakanese king Meng Beng was fighting a battle with the Burmese, the Sak king attacked Northern Arakan Roma and occupied the Arakanese-controlled Chacomas of the Northern Arakan Mountains.
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. The map shows a place called Chacomas on the Eastern bank of the Karnaphuli River in what is now Chittagong, Bangladesh, suggesting 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. 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 in 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. Mughal rule, however, was confined 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.
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 Company
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 recognised their kingdom as independent. The CHT was guaranteed and delineated as their own tribal preserve area by the treaties between the King of the Chakma and the British.
A war was waged from 1777 to 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.
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 5 January 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, did not accept the hegemony of the Company and its demand of taxes at an 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. In 1787, the king accepted the sovereignty of the Company and agreed to pay 500 Maunds of cotton annually. The peace treaty was signed in Calcutta.
- 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 a specific and fixed limit, eventually taking the shape not as tribute but as revenue to the state.
Jan Baksh Khan shifted his capital to a new place near present-day Rangunia, naming it Rajanagar. After Jan Baksh's death in 1800, his son Tabbar Khan became king but died shortly after. 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 male heir there was chaos; 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. 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 institutionalisation by regent Queen Rani Kalindi.
After the great Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, the British government assumed direct control of the administration of India, including along with the Chittagong Hill Tracts, which was not yet formally separated from Chittagong, from the East India Company. The territorial jurisdiction of the Chakma Raja, however, 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".
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 rule
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 Cachar, Noakhali, Comilla and other neighbouring tracts under Rani Kalindi. They raided Chittagong Hill Tracts and the neighbouring tracts in 1847, 1848, 1859 and 1860. As a consequence, with a view to paying attention to the 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 of these recommendations were adopted by the act XXII in 1860, which came into effect on 18 August of that year. 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 as 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 matters pertaining to 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 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 so effective control of Chittagong Hill Tracts was also important for them.
In 1881, the government divided Chittagong Hill Tracts into Chakma Circle, Bohmong Circle, and Mong Circle. Each circle was headed by a chief. 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 some Tripura immigrants and headed by another ruler of Arakanese extraction. The division occurred because the British government was not in favour of the strong power of the Chakma Chief, who controlled these hill tribes. Further, the government was 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 objectives:
- To supervise the rule of the Chakma chief and 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 cotton could be grown and made available for British mills.
After the creation of a separate district and the three circles, the Kuki (Lushai) threat to the Chittagong Hill Tracts and other adjoining areas did not stop. The Shendus made occasional raids in the Hill Tracts between 1865 and 1888, and killed many people, including 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 the CHT 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.
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. The Lushai hills are now the Mizoram state of India.
Later, the British through the Deputy Commissioner took over absolute control 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.
Local tribes demanded an independent state for the Chittagong Hill Tract because 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, Britain guaranteed the tribals that the Chittagong Hill Tracts would be split off separately, since World War II was happening and the Japanese were attacking.
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. 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.
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. Native Chakmas made up most of the officials except for some British during British India rule. 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. The decision by Radcliffe to draw this boundary paved the way for future war, violence and conflict. The British-awarded "Excluded area" status was downgraded to "Tribal Area" in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The Bangladeshi Constitution does not refer to any group (inclusive of Bengalis) as indigenous.
As in India's Tripura State, the Chakmas have lived in Bangladesh before it gained its independence. 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 in the state of Arunachal Pradesh of India during 1964-1969.
Many Buddhist Chakmas migrated from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to India. Projects for infrastructure development negatively impacted CHT tribals starting in the 1950s. These included the Kaptai Dam hydro-electric project, built by the Pakistan government, with the assistance of the US Agency of International Development, between 1959 and 1963 to provide electricity for much of East Pakistan. Forty percent of the farmland in the Chittagong Hill Tracts was flooded by the project, displacing nearly 100,000 Chakmas. About sixty percent were resettled, and forty percent fled to India. 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. The Chittagong Hill Tracts Chakma population was estimated at 250,000 in 1964. The CHT was described as being filled with fountains of water, hilly, forested, and with a verdant green landscape. A deputy commissioner administered the Chittagong Hill Tracts Division under Pakistani rule.
Manabendra Narayan Larma requested autonomy in 1970. India used NEFA as a resettlement area for Chakma refugees. The India Tripura state had to deal with the issue of Chakma families. Agriculture, employment and education are dominated by Chakmas compared to Arunachal natives because they are more skilled and have a higher literacy rate. The issue of returning Chakma refugees from India to Bangladesh was raised in 1995. The hill tribes conflict with Bangladesh caused the exodus of 50,000 Chakmas to India from the Chittagong Hill Tracts. In a 1992 deal between India and Bangladesh, It was arranged that Bangladesh would take them back . A March 1997 agreement between Chakma leaders and Bangladesh provided for the repatriation to Bangladesh of Chakma refugees in Tripura. Both East Pakistan's partition and Bangladesh's independence caused India to experience an influx of Chakma refugees. 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.
Tridev Roy continued his collaboration with the Pakistani forces and rejected the idea of joining the freedom movement of Bangladesh. Pakistani president Yahya Khan assigned a south-east Asian diplomatic post to Tridiv Roy during the war as a reward of his collaboration. Roy chose the Pakistani side, fearing the likely democratic rule in an independent Bangladesh and the possibility of losing his feudal interests. 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 25 March. Roy believed Bangladesh would not award autonomy to CHT and the Chakmas, and Roy earned the enmity of the Awami League by his rejection of Sheikh Mujib's offer to stand as the Awami League candidate. Autonomy was refused to the CHT tribals. CHT hills people were enrolled as Mujahids and Razakars by the Pakistan army during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.
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. Demands to halt Bengali settlement, to have Bengali settlers return lands to the CHT natives, and for autonomy were made by the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS; Chittagong Hill Tracts Peoples Solidarity Association), which was founded by Chakmas. On 7 January 1973, Shanti Bahini (Peace Force) was founded as the military army of PCJSS. Shanti Bahini resisted the Bengali army in 1975, led by Manabendra Narayan Larma. In an effort to win independence for the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Shanti Bahini launched guerrilla attacks against the government. Jumma guerillas made up Shanti Bahini forces. The party heads of PCJSS are mostly Chakma because of their 59% literacy rate, which is more than other CHT tribes, so they control the PCJSS.
During the war, most of the Phadis remained passive, although the Mukti Bahini enrolled some and in 1971, the Pakistan army enrolled CHT hill men. After the war Tridev Roy maintained his allegiance to Pakistan, which he supported in the war. In 1970, he served as independent in the Parliament of Pakistan while serving as Raja of the Chakma. The Awami League candidate Sheikh Mujibur Rahman lost the election to Roy. 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 Roy. Roy represented Pakistan when it protested at the UN over Bangladesh. Pakistan retained the allegiance of only Noor ul Amin and Tridiv Roy among their East Pakistan MPs. Roy refused to join Bangladesh because the hill tracts were not granted autonomy and stayed on Pakistan's side despite Mujib trying to urge Tridiv to quit Pakistan.
Refuge in India
Meghalaya and Tripura were destinations of Buddhist Chakma refugees fleeing from the war started by plains-dwelling Muslim Bangladeshis settling the CHT, as well as the government of Bangladesh implementing a military police force to expel Chittagong Hill Tracts natives. "The Muslim World" complained about alleged immigration from Bangladesh to Arakan by Buddhists of Magh and Chakma background.
In 1974, Garo people were stripped of their property by the XLVI Vested and Non-President Property Act by Bangladesh and affected by the 1964 Enemy Property Ordinance. Lands in CHT have been taken by Bengali colonists; the hill peoples of the CHT had not been afforded any cultural and ethnic recognition, and sympathy from successive Bangladesh governments, despite culture and ethnicity being used as an argument against Pakistan by Bengalis during the war. A 1997 peace agreement ended the over twenty-year-long war on autonomy between Bangladesh and the Chittagong Hill Tracts Jumma inhabitants. The Chittagong Hill Tracts showed that only Bengalis were to be beneficiaries of Bengali nationalism and its "liberalism", which was aimed 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 according to the constitution, Bengali is the nationality and Bangladeshi is the citizenship, and refused to acknowledge 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.
Because the Bangladesh independence movement received apathy from the CHT Jummas, they were deemed unfaithful by the Bengalis. The natives of CHT were ignored when the Rangmati Kaptai Dam was financed by the World Bank. No autonomy was awarded to the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the Bangladesh Constitution of 1972. The Chakma conflict is both a religious and ethnic problem in Bangladesh. The Chittagong Hill Tracts saw tribal Chakma leave the area due to religious and ethnic strife caused by Bangladesh's Islamisation policy. The Chittagong Hill Tracts was colonized by Northern Burmese and Bangladeshi Muslims. The label "genocidal" has been used to describe actions by the Bangaldeshi government upon the non-Islamic Chittagong Hill Tracts Jumma natives.
In February 1972, Prime Ministers of India and Bangladesh issued a joint statement by virtue of which the Government of India decided to confer citizenship on the Chakmas under Section 5(1)(a) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 but the state of Arunachal Pradesh had reservations. Chakmas were thus allowed to be rehabilitated. 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.
The Chakmas now have representation in the Mizoram General Assembly, Tipura Legislative Assembly and Tripura Tribal Area Autonomous District Council. The only seat of political power and identity is the Chakma Autonomous District Council in India, the legitimacy of which is questioned by the Mizo people. There are another 80,000 Chakmas in Rakhine state, Myanmar, who are known as Daingnet people.
In September 2015, the Supreme Court of India passed a judgment directing the Government of India and of Arunachal Pradesh to grant Indian citizenship rights to all of the Chakmas, holding that they cannot be discriminated against any other Indian.
The vast majority of the Chakma are followers of Theravada Buddhism, a religion that they have been practicing for a few centuries; a minority of Chakma follow Islam.
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, habit of their indigenous animist religion. Even though animal sacrifice is totally against Buddhist beliefs, the Buddhist priests ignore the Chakma animist practices.
Originally speaking a language belonging to the Tibeto-Burman family, some of the Chakmas have been influenced by neighbouring Chittagonian and is also closely related to Assamese which is itself a language formed by the mixture of Austric, Tibeto-Burmese, Dravidian, Tai and Aryan languages. 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.
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. As of 2018[update], they are classified as Indo-Aryan.
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.
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.
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. 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 is 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 a 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.
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 an old festival of 2500 years ago, when the prince Siddharta was meditating under the tree, on the other side had to celebrate plough festival (Alphaloni) their farmer parents and relatives, etc.
During that time he was practicing meditation and seeking an end to all suffering.
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 confectioneries). The Buddhist priests known as Bhikkhu lead the devotees for the 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.
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 games
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 the 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.
- Amit Chakma
- Devasish Roy
- Manabendra Narayan Larma
- Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma
- Prajnananda Mahathera
- Kanak Chanpa Chakma
- Tridev Roy
- Santana Chakma
- Benita Roy
- Bijoy Giri
- Charu Bikash Chakma
- Chandra Kalindi Roy Henriksen
- Monika Chakma
- Sambhu Lal Chakma
- Buddha Dhan Chakma
- Champa Chakma
- Shibuli Chakma Lolu Chand
- "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.
- Bhuiyan, Muhammad Masudur Rahman (2012). "Noakhali Sadar Upazila". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). 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 252,258If the Chakma population grew at the same rate as the tribal population overall, their 2001 population in Bangladesh would have been about 288,300.
- "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: 211Total population in India: 38,253.
- A-E. Cataloging Distribution Service, Library of Congress. 1990. pp. 709–.
- Library of Congress Subject Headings. Library of Congress. 1992. pp. 769–.
- Gutman, Pamela (1976). Ancient Arakan. Australian National University Press. p. 14.
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The indigenous Jumma peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs) consisting of Chakmas, Marmas, Tripuras, Khiyangs, Lushais, Khumis, Chaks, Murungs, Bowms and Pankoos, are not recongised by the Constitution of Bangladesh.
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After the partition of India in 1947, many Bengali Buddhists have migrated from the East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) [to India] ... including the migration of the tribal Chakma Buddhists.
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Religious persecution, ethnic violence which had its roots in economic reasons forced the Chakmas to enter India en masse ... 50,000 Chakma refugees entered Tripura in April, 1986 ... by July, 1989 their number rose to 67,000.
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India's ... concession to Bangladesh over the sharing of the Ganga waters (December 12, 1996) was reciprocated by the latter in signing an agreement with Chakma leaders (March 9, 1997). It provided for the return of the Chakma refugees sheltered in Tripura to Bangladesh.
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[The] Bangladesh government allocated funds to thousands of Bengali families to settle in the tracts, arguing that the area was less crowded than the rest of densely populated Bangladesh. By 1981 Bengali migrants constituted a third of the population of the tracts.
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In 1973, the Shanti Bahini (Peace Force) began to stage violent attacks against the government to try to win independence for the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chakma people.|
- Interview with the Chakma King
- Stateless Chakma refugees in India
- van Schendel, Willem (2012). "Chakmas, The". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
- Photos of the Chakma people
- LifeSytle of the Chakma people
- Jumma Peoples Network UK – Contains latest news and resources on Chakma and other Jumma people of CHT, Bangladesh
- Royal Chakma Kingdom
- Sufia M. Uddin (2006). Constructing Bangladesh: Religion, Ethnicity, and Language in an Islamic Nation. Univ of North Carolina Press. pp. 216–. ISBN 978-0-8078-3021-5.