Apart from being a snack popularly enjoyed at breakfast or in the afternoon, the Chechma or Marma pitha is a mainstay at gatherings and in homely addas
Chechma pitha, a Marma delicacy, has become a favourite with residents of Khagrachhari. Locals refer to it as “Marma pitha”, which is popular among all, irrespective of their age and is also sought after by tourists.
Since the process of preparing these pithas does not include anything that interferes with people’s beliefs, both from religious and social perspectives, it is savoured by people belonging to all religions and communities.
Apart from being a snack popularly enjoyed at breakfast or in the afternoon, the Chechma or Marma pitha is a mainstay at gatherings and in homely addas.
More often than not, one would find roadside sellers hawking these pithas in areas that are largely inhabited by members of the Marma community. One may also find these delicacies at reputed tourist spots and marketplaces around Khagrachari.
Pithas, including the Chechma pitha, are not only viewed as snacks by the Marma community but as an integral part of their indigenous culture and heritage and are usually served at religious gatherings for guests and religious leaders. Since the pithas prepared by them are so delicious, demand for them has seen an overall increase in the region.
In winter, neighbourhoods get together to prepare assorted pithas. On the other hand, right after the new Binni crop has been harvested, people living in the hill tracts prepare all kinds of pithas to be enjoyed by one and all.
Atu Marma, a seller of pithas hailing from the Pankhaiya neighbourhood in Khagrachhari town, said: “There is a constant demand for pithas all around the year, but demand goes up during winter when the new Binni crop is harvested.”
Tourist Abdullah Kafi travelled all the way from Dhaka after finding out about the pithas online. “I came across photos of pithas made by members of the Marma community online and decided to come here and try it out firsthand. Those who haven’t had the experience of eating pithas straight off the saucepots must try this out once in their lifetime,” he said.
A researcher of Marma culture, Chinglamong Chowdhury suggests: “The Binni rice from Jum is the primary ingredient for pithas, alongside the use of coconut, molasses and different sweet fruits. Apart from Chechma, other pithas such as Kodamu, Keinda, Chilamu and Gongmu are common among Marma communities. However, Chechma pithas are undoubtedly the most popular among them. The preparation of these pithas not only means the preservation of Marma culture but is a source of income for countless Marma households.”
How to prepare Chechma pitha
To start things off, place a dry a saucepot with shapes formed with finely ground Binni rice powder after sifting it through a sieve. After two to three minutes, when the powder solidifies, put in coconut shavings and molasses and make them into rolls to serve. The use of mud stoves adds to the taste. Each of these pithas costs between Tk5 and Tk10.