Bisu, more popularly known as Biju, is one of the main festivals of the Chakma tribal community in Bangladesh. It is part of the New Year carnival of the minor Ethnic groups of Chakma, Marma, Tripura, and Tanchanggya. The festival’s primary purpose is to give farewell to the old year and welcome the New Year. The last two days of the ending year and the first day of the month of Baishakh are the three days of the Bisu festival. The three days of the Bisu festival have separate names.
The Origin of Bisu Mela
The unique combination of ethnic diversity has made the hilly areas of southeast Bangladesh beautiful. Twelve ethnic tribes of eleven languages have been living here for a long time. No other country has unity like Bangladesh, even after these diversities.
It is difficult to tell when, and how many nations migrated to this mountainous region. There is no scope of knowing the detailed history of such a region without any written documents of any tribe. But these people have rich traditions. They have been organizing them for ages.
All About Bisu Mela
The Chakma tribe celebrates the Bisu festival for three days every year. Each day has a unique and separate name. They are Ful Bisu(Flower Bisu), Mul Bisu(Main Bisu) and GojaPoza. Here I tried to describe the details of each day.
They decorate the houses with flowers on this day. At sunrise, the water god ‘Gongama’ is worshipped with flowers at the river bank. Besides, blossoms and beams are lit on the banana leaf and thrown into rivers, streams, ponds, or canals as a symbol of devotion and respect to all the gods.
They dedicate rice, fruits, sugar, or Gur(One type of hard food made from date juice) to God. On this day, they clean the nearby Buddhist temple and bathe the Buddha statue. Young men and women take water from rivers or streams and help the village elders to get a bath.
On this day, they cook various foods at home. They cook special food with 32 different kinds of vegetables. This food is called ‘Pazan.’ The original Pazan is made of 36 different vegetables. But if all the vegetables are not found, at least 20 remain in Pazan.
The ingredients used in the traditional Pazan are potato, raw chilies, peas, beans, shrimp fish, bamboo seeds, and other seasonal vegetables. They go to the house of their neighbors and relatives and exchange greetings and tributes.
It is the third day of the Bisu Festival. On this day, they invite and welcome their relatives. They go to the Buddhist temples and ask for blessings. The younger ones in the neighborhood receive blessings from the elders. On the last day, the Chakma people rejoice. They dance together and drink a lot of wine as a source of joy.
Wines made for Bisu Mela
They make two types of wine for the Bisu festival.
- Do-Choani: This wine is made by rotting the rice. They follow this process twice to raise the amount of alcohol. As the rice is dipped two times, they call it Do-Choani(dipped twice).
- Jagra or Kanji: This wine is made from the juice of rotten rice. This wine is slightly white. It tastes sweet. It has a low amount of alcohol. Chakmas often call it ‘Chakma Beer.’
Other festivals related to Bisu Mela
Bisu is one of the three major festivals of ethnic groups in Bangladesh. Baisabi is the new year celebration of the three indigenous ethnic groups in Bangladesh. The first letters of the three festivals Baisu, Sangrai and Bisu, are derived to create the name Baisabi. We gave short descriptions of Baisu and Sangrai below.
Baisu is the new year’s celebration of the Tripura tribal community. They celebrate it for three days. They divide it into three parts according to days. They are Hari Baisu, Bisuma and Bisiktal.
- Hari Baisu: This festival is celebrated on the pre-day of Chaitra Sangkranti. On this day, they pray to God for happiness and wealth in the coming days. This day is called the food festival.
- Bisuma: This festival is held on the last day of Chaitra. The main attraction of the carnival is the popular food ‘Pachan.’
- Bisiktal: The New Year is celebrated on this day. The unique event of the day is a game of flowers and water.
Sangrai is the new year’s celebration of the Marma tribe. They observe this festival for four days. Each day has a separate name. They are Paing Choai, Sangrai Akrainih, Sangrai Atanih, and Lachaintara.
- Paing-Choai (first day): The name Paing-Choai means plucking flowers. They go to the Buddhist temple on this day.
- Sangrai Akrainih: They celebrate the day with water in the neighborhood. During this festival, they splash water and wash away old sludges.
- Sangrai Atanih: The festival is mainly an extended part of the second day’s celebration. They celebrate it on the second day.
- Lachaintara: They celebrate the New Year through various events on this day.
There are many tribes in Bangladesh, and they have their own culture. They are also Bangladeshi. They are often neglected because they are not Bengali speakers. But I’m afraid that’s not right. Their culture is part of our heritage. And we should come forward to help them to save their culture.