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  • Introduction :   The Marma is the second largest indigenous ethnic group in the CHT. They have been Theravada Buddhists, like the Burmese, Thai and Sri Lankan, for many centuries. The Marma have their own script and speak a language which is almost identical to that of the Rakhine or Rakhaing of Cox’s Bazar and Patuakhali districts in Bangladesh and Arakan state in  Myanmar(Burma). The 1991 census puts the total number of Marma in the CHT as 142,334; 59,228 in Bandarban, 42,178 in Khagrachari and 40,868 in Rangamati.

  • Culture and Tradition : The Marmas are great lovers of music and drama. Before the advent of the cinema and television throngs of Marma youth in their best attire would pass the better part of a night watching folk dances and operatic performances.The Marmas are very fond of fairs. They have the peculiar knack of converting even their religious festivals into occasions of fun and gaiety. Traditionally, both men and women are fond of smoking pipes and cigars, all locally made. Rice beer or distilled rice spirits are very popular among the men. Among the Marma, there are both swidden agriculturists and sedentary rice farmers. Of the hill peoples of the region the Marma usually make the best traders although the Chakma are also trying hard to become retail traders. The Marma language is soft and poetic and even people who do not understand Marma love to hart marma songs.

  • Chief of Marma : The Marma in the southern CHT, including all of Bandarban, owe traditional loyalty to the Bohmong Chief, Bohmongri who traces his lineage from Burmese generals. The Bhomong is the supreme arbiter on the personal laws of the indigenous peoples in his territory.

  • Language : Today, apart from farmers, many Marma are traders, service-people and professionals such as doctors, engineers, etc. As with the Tripura and other peoples speaking a Tibeto-Burman tongue, The Marma also start out with a disadvantage with the medium of instruction in schools being in the Bengali language. Introduction of primary education in the Marma language is believed to be a necessary step for the progress of education among the Marma. They have a beautiful language. It certainly deserves official recognition.


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