Reviving cultural heritage: ‘Maha Janakha’ resurfaces in Bandarban after 15 years
In a remarkable cultural revival, the traditional "Pangkhum" cultural heritage of the Marma community has been brought back to life after a 15-year hiatus with the mesmerising performance of "Maha Janakha". The event took place at the Rening area in the Rajbila Union of Bandarban district, marking a significant moment for the local community.
The resurrection of this rich cultural tradition was made possible through the joint efforts of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Institute for Small Ethnic Groups (CIS Institute), an organisation dedicated to preserving the indigenous heritage of Bandarban. The event unfolded on Saturday, where the cultural extravaganza captivated audiences and served as a testament to the enduring spirit of tradition and heritage.
The performance was a comprehensive showcase of the Marma cultural heritage, incorporating elements such as dance, traditional music, storytelling, and the Marma language. The significance of "Maha Janakha" extended beyond its artistic presentation, as it encapsulated the values and customs deeply rooted in the Marma community's identity.
The grand finale of the event marked the recognition and appreciation of the talents involved. The Pangkhum group, the driving force behind the revival, underwent rigorous training over a three-month period, enhancing their abilities and preserving their cultural heritage. In recognition of their dedication, cash prizes, certificates, and musical instruments were awarded to the group members, further motivating them to carry the torch of tradition.
The event was organised as part of the Annual Performance Agreement (APA) realisation for the fiscal year 2023-2024. It took place in the 8th Ward of the Rajbila Union, a remote area within Bandarban district, in adherence to the ministry's commitment to celebrating and preserving the diverse cultural tapestry of the region.
Shing Yong Mrong, a member of the Bandarban Hill District Parishad and the convener of the CIS Institue, presided over the event, where Mohammad Sultan Mahmud, deputy secretary of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, was present as the special guest. Mong Nuchi, the director of CIS Institute, Leela Murung, assistant director of CIS Institute, and Aminul Islam Bachchu, president of the Bandardan Press Club and general editor of the Bandarban District Fine Arts Academy, also graced the occasion.
For the members of the Pangkhum group, this revival represented a cultural renaissance that had been coming for a long time. Mongshoi Pru Marma, a member of the group, emphasised the importance of culture in their lives and their determination to keep their traditions alive. The Pangkhum group, consisting of 45 members, including 15 females, has already established a reputation for their performances and is eager to carry the torch of their cultural heritage.
Sultan Mahmud expressed his admiration for Bandarban's unique cultural diversity, with its multi-ethnic and multi-cultural communities, and pledged the continued support of the ministry to preserve these rich cultural traditions.