Marma people

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Marma dancers
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Bangladesh: Bandarban, Khagrachari, Patuakhali District and Barguna Districts 157,301
 Myanmar: Rakhine State Unknown
 India: Tripura Unknown
Arakanese language
Theravada Buddhism
Related ethnic groups
Rakhine people

one of the 135 officially recognized ethnicities in Myanmar (formerly Burma)
Marma girls at the Water Festival during Songkrai (New year celebration.)

The Marma (Burmese: မရမာလူမျိုး) people are the second-largest ethnic community in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Most live in the Bandarban, Khagrachari and Rangamati hill districts of Bangladesh. Some are living in the coastal districts of Cox's Bazar and Patuakhali in Bangladesh. They also are living many places in Tripura, India and Myanmar.

Sometimes referred as Mog or Magh, they were known by those terms for centuries until the late 1940s; on the other hand, they are called Marima Lumyo in Tripura. There are over 210,000 Marmas just within Bangladesh. In the 16th century, they established the Bohmong and Mong chiefdoms (circles) in Bengal. Since then, the CHT are their home.


There are two opinions on the lineage of the Marma. Historically, the Marma are the descendants of Arakanese, while the Bohmang family claimed the lineage of the Mon of Burmese. However, the records of the East India Company and others provide that the Marmas migrated from Arakan kingdom of Burma to the Chittagong of Bangladesh in two phases of migrations during 14th to 17th centuries in the golden period of Mrauk U. In the first phase during the Mrauk U period Arakanese kingdom was expanded to even some parts of Chittagong Division. Secondly, they fled to Chittagong and settled down as the Arakanese kingdom was conquered and tortured by the Burmese king Bodawpaya. The Bohmang family might be descendant of Mon of Pegu, but not the Marma or Magh.

  • According to some, the term “Marma” is derived from the term “Myanmar”. As there is another claim that Marmas are originally lineage of Peguan/Mon and Burmese. So the term Marma was officially coined by Bohmong Maung Shwe Prue in the late 1940s to the people of his circle, because the king was a descendant of Myanmar. The word Myanmar changed phonetically as it is pronounced differently by Arakanese and Marma. Sometimes Arakanese pronounces “Ya” of Burmese pronunciation in “Ra” phones. For example, Arakanese pronounces “Rangoon” for “Yangoon” of Burmese. So this is similar to above example of phonetic changes. He wanted to write Mranma (which is Myanmar) unfortunately it was eventually spelled Marma.
  • Another assumption is that the term “Marma” derived from a supposedly Chinese word meing, said to mean "man".

They were known as Mogh/Magh for centuries because they were called Mogh/Magh by Bengali for joining hands with Dutch and Portuguese pirates during their invasion in Chittagong. In latter periods, they do not want to be called by it. They find the term offensive and insulting, because it means "pirate". Therefore, picking up new name Marma was necessary for people in Bangladesh, while others in Tripura state of India kept the same name, as Mogh/Magh. They have their own reasons, and they do not consider Mogh/Magh as an offensive term, but view Mog/Magh as rulers and descendants of Magadhi. However, the Marma in Bangladesh and Mogh in India are not identified as separate.


Marmas have more than 12 clans, including Regesa, Plengsa, Kyaukfyasa, Marosa, Longdusa, Frangsa, Kokdaingsa, Cheringsa, and Sakthongyasa.

These people are similar to Rakhine people, including their languages (little difference in tone), food, clothes, religion, dance, and funeral rites. Lungyi, the lower costume of Marma men, and thabein for women are the same as Rakhine people's. Marmas mostly depend on agriculture, practicing – especially formerly – slash-and-burn cultivation on the hills. Their belief in Theravada Buddhism is as deep as the Rakhine society's, with an emphasis on ritual practices in deities. The Marmas also practice animism.

They follow the Burmese calendar. They celebrate the new year, called Sangrai.[1] Marma community celebrate in three parts starting on the first day of Bohag. They make 'Sangraimu' which is a form of traditional cakes. The take part in Sangrain Relong Pwe (water pouring) where young marma men and women spray each other with water. On the 1st day is called Painchwai or Akro (home decoration with flower/Eelcoming). The 2nd day is called Sangrai Akya, they participate in traditional sports, dances, cultural activities and hold meeting regarding community issues. They also go to monasteries to participate in the Buddha statue's bathing (cleansing) ritual on this day. On the 3rd day, called Sangrai Atada, they cook a vegetable dish made out of more than 100 ingredients, called hangbong (pachan in Bangla).[2]

After death, Marma elderlies are cremated, while younger deceased Marmas are buried.

See also[edit]

Barua (Bangladesh)


  1. ^ Barua, Sanjoy; Khan, Tamanna. "Blaze of 'Boisabi' colour". The Daily Star. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Correspondent. "Hill districts wear a festive look as Boisabi nears". The Daily Star. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 

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