The Chittagonian people are a diverse ethnic group primarily residing in the southeastern region of Bangladesh, with a significant presence in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. This area is home to various tribes and communities, each with their unique set of beliefs, mythology, and rituals. In this article, we will delve into the rich and multifaceted belief system of the Chittagonian people, exploring their deities, mythological creatures, heroes, and distinctive cultural practices.

Deities and their Personalities

  • Sangrama: The Chittagonian people believe in a supreme creator deity called Sangrama. He is considered to be omnipotent and omniscient, responsible for the creation of the universe and all life within it. Sangrama is also seen as a distant deity who does not actively involve himself in human affairs.

  • Thungra: Thungra is the primary deity of the Chakma tribe, one of the most significant ethnic groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Thungra is considered to be the god of rain, responsible for ensuring good harvests and fertility. He is believed to reside in the clouds and is often depicted as a powerful figure wielding a double-headed axe, symbolizing thunderbolts.

  • Kalia: Kalia is a serpent goddess who is revered as the guardian of water sources and rivers. She is believed to reside in the depths of water bodies, protecting them from pollution and destruction. Kalia is also considered a fertility goddess, bestowing blessings upon couples seeking children.

  • Kharingcha: The Chittagonian people believe in a protective spirit called Kharingcha, who safeguards households and families from evil spirits and misfortune. Kharingcha is often depicted as a warrior figure and is propitiated through ritual offerings and prayers to ensure continued protection.

Mythological Creatures and Heroes

  • The Rishis: In Chittagonian mythology, the Rishis are celestial beings who are believed to possess immense knowledge and wisdom. They are said to have authored the Vedas, sacred texts that contain hymns, rituals, and spiritual insights. The Rishis are also considered to be the ancestors of the Chittagonian people, from whom they inherited their rich culture and traditions.

  • The Garuda: The Garuda is a mythological bird in Chittagonian folklore, often associated with the sun and the sky. This powerful creature is believed to have the ability to fly between the realms of the living and the dead, carrying messages and transporting souls. The Garuda is also considered a symbol of protection, as it is believed to combat serpents and other malevolent creatures.

  • Naga: The Naga are snake-like beings that inhabit the underworld in Chittagonian mythology. They are believed to possess supernatural powers and are often associated with water sources and hidden treasures. While the Naga are considered to be dangerous and malevolent, they can also bestow blessings upon those who appease them.

Unique Beliefs and Rituals

  • Bizu Festival: The Bizu Festival is a unique and significant celebration among the Chittagonian people, marking the beginning of the new year. This three-day festival involves various rituals, such as the cleaning of homes, preparation of special dishes, and the offering of prayers to deities. The Bizu Festival is a time for the community to come together and celebrate their shared cultural identity.

  • Punnik: Punnik is a distinctive ritual observed by the Chittagong Hill Tracts tribes, particularly the Marma people. The ritual involves the ceremonial offering of food to the spirits of deceased ancestors, ensuring their wellbeing in the afterlife and seeking their blessings. Punnik is usually held during the harvest season or on special occasions such as weddings and the birth of a child.

  • Jum Cultivation: Jum cultivation, or shifting cultivation, is an agricultural practice unique to the Chittagonian people and other indigenous communities in the region. This method involves clearing a patch of forest, burning the vegetation, and cultivating crops in the ashes for a few years before moving on to a new area. Jum cultivation is not only an essential part of the Chittagonian people's livelihood but also holds spiritual significance, as they believe that it appeases the land spirits and ensures fertility and abundance.

  • Totemism: Totemism is a belief system prevalent among many Chittagonian tribes, wherein they revere and identify with particular animals, plants, or natural elements as their spiritual ancestors or guardians. Totems are believed to provide protection, guidance, and strength to their respective tribes, and it is common for tribe members to wear or display symbols representing their totem.