• Friday, Jan 24, 2020
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Chittagong Hill Tracts celebrate Boisabi

Khagrachari Hill District Council brings out a colorful procession to celebrate Boisabi festival and Bangla New Year 1426 on Friday, April 12, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

The merriment has a range of traditions

The three-day long revelry, known as Boisabi, a combined New Year celebration and the biggest traditional festival for ethnic communities in Bangladesh, has begun amid great enthusiasm and festivity.

People belonging to different ethnic communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts have been celebrating the beginning of the New Year with festive, vibrant rituals since Friday morning.

The same festival is known by many names - Boishu of the Tripuras, Sangrai of the Marmas, Sankran of the Mros, Sangran of the Kyangs, Sankrai of the Khumis, Bizu of the Chakmas, and Bishu of the Tanchangyas.

To the people, Boisabi brings happiness, hope and prosperity. It signals a new beginning. It is a shared tradition of various cultural festivities.

Leading up to the day the festivities begin, people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts are busy shopping for traditional attire, preparing food and sweets, cleaning their homes, and inviting relatives and friends from and outside the hills, to be part of their celebrations.

Indigenous people of Chittagong Hill Tracts celebrate Boisabi festival through various rituals on Friday, April 12, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

The shopkeepers of Rangamati’s Bonorupa HB Plaza said their business is in full bloom this time of year. Thanks to Boisabi, people come to shop for everything ranging from clothes to home decor, to raw foodstuff.

The merriment has a variety of traditions. Many communities share common customs. Children visit their relatives and greet them with gifts and cakes. People decorate houses with flowers and arrange baths for the elderly and take their blessings. Various kinds of sweets and cakes are an integral part of the festivities.

One of the most beloved rituals is setting flowers afloat on water. In Rangamati, thousands of people came to Rajbari and Kaptai Lake to join the ceremony.  They chanted: "We strive to triumph over the dread of the past year and begin a new chapter every year."

In Bandarban, the Mro community celebrates with traditional dances, bead necklace stringing competitions and several games played with bamboos. People of all ages partake in these joyous events.

 Bandarban alone has 11 ethnic communities in seven upazilas. Boisabi is celebrated in an incredibly diverse manner in Bangladesh.

In Khagrachhari, the Chakma community began their merriment by setting flowers adrift  on the Chengi river and other water bodies in the area. The children bathed in the river and visited the elderly for blessings. 

Other rituals that are part of Boisabi area  water throwing ceremony, gifting new cloths, the Garaiya dance, and boat-racing.