Rajpunnah in Bandarban today
The 'Bomang Rajpunnah', the oldest traditional festival in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), will be held in the Rajbari compound in the town tomorrow.
Bomang dynasty has been organizing the festival since 1875 to collect annual taxes from 'jhum' cultivators in CHT region for upholding its tradition.
Bomang king Aong Sue Prue Choudhury will address at the gathering early in the morning. Bomang family hopes that thousands of indigenous people from eleven ethnic communities will join the program.
A 3-day long folk fair will also begin at Rajbari Mat on the day marking the 133rd festival. A large number of tourists from home and abroad have already arrived in the town to attend the festival. All hotels, motels and tourist cottages are full with them.
According to traditions, the Bomang Raja or chief collects taxes from the 'headmen' ('mouza' chiefs) and 'karbari' (village chiefs) at the royal function. Indigenous men mostly 'jhum' farmers pay annual taxes to their respective 'headmen' and 'karbari', and the accumulated funds are offered formally to the circle chief during 'Rajpunnah'.
According to the 1900 Act, each jhumia family has to pay Tk 6.00 as jhum tax for a year. Of the money, Bomang Raja (king) gets Tk 2.50 while his subordinate mouza headman takes Tk 2.25 and the rest of the money has to be deposited in the government exchequer.
The tradition of 'Rajpunah' is also observed by people of two other circles--Chakma Circle in Rangamati and Mong Circle in Khagrachhari. However, the chiefs of those circles have not held the festival in recent years.