<i> Hill districts wear a festive look as Boisabi nears</i>
People of Tripura, Marma, Chakma communities and Bangalees brought out a colourful procession in the town yesterday ahead of the Boishu, Sangrai, Biju (Boi-sa-bi) and the upcoming New Bangla Year 1418 festivals.
A joint committee organised the procession. The procession started from upazila parishad ground and paraded the town.
Rafiqul Alam, mayor of Khagrachhari municipality, inaugurated the programme while convener of the committee Rabi Shankar Talukdar, general secretary of Marma Unnayan Sangsad Cathowai Marma and general secretary of Tripura Kalyan Sangsad Sachin Tripura were present.
Later at a short discussion, the speakers urged the government to ensure constitutional recognition to indigenous people and take steps to protect the tradition and customs of the hill people.
The festival starts April 13 every year and continues for five days.
The name Boisabi, is an acronym for three festivals of the three main indigenous communities of CHT.
The Tripura community celebrates it as 'Boishu', the Marma calls it Sangrai or Shangraine and the Chakmas observe it as 'Biju'. Boishu, Sangrai and Biju together form Boi-sa-bi which means new Bangla year celebration.
The people of the area are now busy making traditional masks and inviting relatives and friends to the biggest festival of the indigenous people.
An upbeat Ethika Chakma from Milanpur area of the district town said, "I bought a Pinon-Hadi (a traditional Chakma dress) and four salwar kameez for the upcoming Boisabi."
Julipru Marma of Madhupur area who is now studying in India said, "I came home a few days ago to celebrate Boisabi with family and friends and hope to have lots of fun after a long time."
Narandra Tripura, a farmer from Alutila area, told this correspondent that Boisabi is the biggest festival for the indigenous people and so they try to enjoy it fully.
Md. Shahed, a student of HSC 1st year of Khagrachhari Government College said, "I am excited because I have been invited by many indigenous friends to join Boisabi.”
Different government and non-government organisations and local clubs have already chalked out various programmes including traditional sports competition and fairs in the district town to mark the occasion.
Former principal of Khagrachhari Government College Dr. Sudhin Kumar Chakma said that people of Chakma community celebrate Biju for three days from 29th of Chaitra.
"The first day of the festival is called 'Fulbiju', the second day is 'Mulbiju' and third day or Pahela Baishakh is called 'Gojjya Pojjya Din'", he said.
He informed that on 'Fulbiju', Chakma people get up early in the morning, clean their houses and decorate them with flowers.
Then they take bath and float flowers in rivers, canals and springs to seek blessings of God for peace and prosperity. In the evening they go to 'Kyang' (Buddhist temple) and light candles.
On 'Mulbiju', Chakmas cook special traditional foods called 'Cewang' early in the morning and send those to the saints of the Kyangs.
The people of Tripura community celebrate 'Boishu' in two parts -- 'Harboishu' and Boishu.
Manindra Kishore Tripura, president of Tripura Kalyan Sangsad said, that the Tripura people celebrate 'Harboishu' in a similar way of 'Fulbiju' on 30th Chaitra."
"On the day of first Baishakh they celebrate Boishu by venerating the gods, taking out colourful procession and holding traditional games and cultural programmes", he added.
People of Marma community celebrate Sangrai in three parts starting on the first day of Baishakh.
Basori Marma, women affairs secretary of Marma Unnayan Sangsad, Khagrachhari unit said, "The first day of the festival is called Sangrai, the second day is 'Sangrai Aika' and the third day is known as 'Sangrai Atada'."
On Sangrai, Marma people make traditional cake 'Sangraimu' and start the festivities by sending those to the saints at the Kyangs first, she said.
Pani Khela (splashing water on each other) is another popular part of the Sangrai. Young Marma men and women participate in the game and playfully douse each other with water.
It is believed by the Marmas that with water they wash away all the woes, pains and sins of the past year. It also reinvigorates people for a good start, she said.
On the day of 'Sangrai Aika ', Marma men and women participate in different kinds of traditional sports competition, hold in meeting with community personalities to discuss the social activities.
On the day of 'Sangrai Atada', a traditional food named 'Pagan', with more than a 100 vegetable ingredients, is cooked in every Marma house along with various cakes and other delicious items.
Sana Alam, chairman of Khagrachhari Sadar upazila said, "Boisabi is a symbol of communal harmony as the festival originating in the indigenous communities is now being celebrated by the local Bangalees with equal enthusiasm."