Ansar Ahmed Ullah:
This year the Chakma community in London celebrated Bizu at Britannia Village Hall, near Excel, London, on 16th April 2022. The event was organised by the Chakma community in London – ‘Friends of Chittagong Hill Tracts’ and conducted by Chakma Ujjaini Roy.
The women wore colourful Chakma traditional attire, “Pinon – hadi.” The guests enjoyed the traditional speciality, “Pajon” dishes, which consisted of twenty plus mixed vegetables and other food and drinks.
Later in the day, participants celebrated the day with traditional songs, music and dance. The leading musician of the programme was Samudrajit Roy, who played the guitar and sang. Various artists sang traditional Chakma folk songs, and songs of Kumar Samit Roy, the most prolific composer of modern Chakma music of Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. Indigenous artists included Ashu Tosh Chakma, Ujjaini Roy, Samudrajit Roy, Anakshi Dewan, Trisha Chakma, Kumar Sivashish Roy, Sayantini Roy and Anu Chakma. Non-indigenous artists Valentine Harding, Maria Harding and Shirin Taj Meera also performed Chakma traditional folk songs. Among the youngsters, Ajanta Roy performed dance and Boris Chakma, Ivan Chakma and Aiden Chakma Kumar played the guitar.
Boishabi Bizu is the biggest indigenous festival in Bangladesh, celebrated in April. Since indigenous peoples in Bangladesh consists of eleven groups, the festival is known by many names – Bizu of the Chakmas, Baishu of the Tripuras, Sangrai of the Marmas, Sankran of the Mros, Sangran of the Kyangs, Sankrai of the Khumis, and Bishu of the Tanchagyas. The festivity has a variety of traditions. Some communities share common customs.
Traditionally the Chakma Bizu is celebrated over three days. The first day celebration starts with “Ful-Bizu,” cleaning the houses, decorating them with flowers and floating flowers in the river to seek the blessing of peace and prosperity. In the evening, candles are lit in the temples.
The second day is “Mul-Bizu.” People cook a special food called “Pajon,” mixed with twenty or more types of vegetables, a speciality of indigenous people. Then people visit houses to pay respect to the elders and greet family and friends and enjoy ‘Pajon’ and other foods.
Finally, the last day is ‘Goijja Poijja Bizu,’ which falls on the Bengali New Year. People spend the day chilling and going to temples to pray for happiness and blessing.