New Year festivals of indigenous people in Bangladesh
Just about every nation in the world has its own special way of bidding farewell to the old year, while welcoming the new. In Bangladesh the indigenous tribes of the Chittagong Hills Tracts celebrate the end of the current year and the beginning of the New Year with a series of colorful and lively festivals called Sagrain by the Marma people, Bwisu by the Tripura people, and Biju by the Chakmas. While similar in many ways, each tribe has a few unique aspects to their celebrations, which take place in mid April every year, depending on the new moon.
With the Marma tribe, three days of their four-day festival are spent bidding farewell to the outgoing year, with the fourth focusing on greeting the incoming year. On the first day of the festival both male and female members of the Marma tribe form a procession to take their images of Buddha down to the riverfront. There the images will be washed on a raft with either a mixture of sandalwood and water, or milk and water in preparation for reinstalling them at the temple or in their shrines at their homes. The following two days, being the last two days of the old year, are spent in light-hearted celebration called pani-khela, where participants splash each other with water, symbolically washing away all the sorrows and ills of the past year. A similar ceremony is carried out by the Rakhaine, called rangpani, where participants splash each other with colored water.
The Chakmas enjoy a three-day festival, two of which fall into the outgoing year. The first day is dedicated to celebrations for phul bijhu, the second for mul bijhu, and new year’s day for gojyai pojya. During phul bijhu there is general merrymaking in preparation for the main festival of mul bijhu, celebrated on the last day of the outgoing year. During this time the Chakmas visit one another’s homes, socializing and eating together. Young girls, distinguished by their blue and red lungis that have been woven on hand-held looms, gather in groups to enjoy each other’s company and wander from house to house at leisure and playing games in the afternoon.
In addition to spending time visiting each other’s homes and enjoying traditional foods such as panchan, the Tripura community enjoy goraia dance, with between 10 and 100 artists participating in the dance which depicts their daily lives and the processes of jhum cultivation on the hillsides of Chittagong. Throughout the Chittagong Hills Tracts, the first day of the new year is greeted with merriment and the hope for a prosperous and trouble-free year ahead.
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 on the last day of the month of Chaitra. 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 day starts with the bath in the river. People wear new clothes and make rounds of the village. 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.
It is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Baisakh.It actually 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 of thousands of lamps, releasing of Phanuch Batti (an auspicious lamp made of paper in the form of a balloon) are also done as and when possible.
Sangrain Festival: Marma New Year
Sangrain is New Year. It falls in the middle of the month April. Before the days of Sangrain, they clean and decorate their houses because to Marmas Sangrain is an auspicious and significant festival of the year in secular and religious level. The way they celebrate is not much different from Burmese and Thai.
These are some of stuff they do in the celebration of New Year. They make traditional food and cookies. They play various kinds of games and the most enjoyable and important is flashing water to each other. People mostly young boys and girls enjoy water festival. They organize and gather from various parts of the country in one particular area to play water festival. Anybody can join the festival disregard of their creed, group and so on. It is opportunity for everyone to make friendship even with stranger. On this auspicious occasion everyone is friend. Enemy and mistakes are forgiven and become friend. Everyone is determined to start with new hope and new way of life.
They also go to the temple, bath the Buddha statues and eight precept observers, and take five precepts and circumbulate the pagoda around all together. The monks in the temple take this chance to remind the dharma; the right way of living and practicing as Buddhist. The elders are worshiped and they bless the young ones for bright future.
By the way, there is one popular Sangrain and touch the hearts of Marma. Everyone, one and big ones, knows this song because it is sung in every Sangrain. It was composed by Ven. U Chala Bhante. Let me give some ideas of the song. The song begins thus in Marma language.
Sangrainma yinyeyinya- Let’s get together in Sangrain
Rekhajai kaipame – And play water
O yin koro o eme-miriro – Oh brothers and sisters
Lagai lagai chepyo-gaimaare – Come, come let’s rejoicehttp://www.banglapedia.org/HT/C_0094.htm