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Marma people

Marma dancers
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Chittagong Hill Tracts, Tripura India, Myanmar
 Bangladesh (Bandarban, Khagrachari, Rangamati, Patuakhali and Barguna Districts)224,261[1]
 Myanmar (Rakhine State)Unknown
 India (Tripura)35,722[2]
Marma, Chittagonian, Burmese
Theravada Buddhism
Related ethnic groups
Rakhine people, Bamar people

one of the 135 officially recognized ethnicities in Myanmar (formerly Burma)
Map of Marma people in Bangladesh by upazila
Marma girls at the Water Festival during Sangrai (New year celebration.)

The Marma (Burmese: မာရမာ တိုင်းရင်းသား), also known as Moghs, Mogs or Maghs, are the second-largest ethnic community in Bangladesh's Chittagong Hill Tracts, primarily residing in the Bandarban, Khagrachari and Rangamati Hill Districts. They belong to the same community as the Rakhine people. Many Marmas live in Bangladesh's coastal districts of Cox's Bazar and Patuakhali, while few of them live in Tripura, India and Myanmar. There are about 224,261 Marmas living in Bangladesh and 35,722 of them living in India. Since the 16th century, the Marma have considered the Bengal's Chittagong Hill Tracts their home, where they have established the Bohmong and Mong Circles (chiefdoms).


Between the 17th and 18th centuries, the Rakhine began calling themselves Mranma (မြန်မာ) and its derivatives like Marama (မရမာ), as attested by texts like the Rakhine Minrazagri Ayedaw Sadan and the Dhanyawaddy Ayedawbon.[3][4] This endonym continues to be used by the Marma.[4] The term "Marma" is derived from "Myanmar," which was first used in the early 1100s.[5][6] In the Marma and Arakanese, Myanmar is pronounced Mranma ([mɹəmà]), not Myanma ([mjəmà]). In the Burmese language, the Marma are known as the Marama (မရမာ).

By 1585, European, Persian, and Bengali accounts began describing the Marma and Buddhist groups in the region as the Mugh or Magh, which were not used by the Marmas themselves.[7] The word's etymology is likely to derive from Magadha, the name of an ancient Buddhist kingdom.[8] The Marmas considered these names to be pejorative because of the word's association with piracy, and thus assumed the name Marma in the 1940s. Some Marmas in the Indian state of Tripura continue to self-identify as Marima, or as Moghs or Maghs.[9]


Group of Bandarban Marmas with Bohmong in centre, c. 1906

The ancestors of the Marma, the Rakhine, live in a coastal region between Chittagong and the Arakan Mountains, in what is now Rakhine State of Myanmar. Between the 15th and 16th centuries, the Rakhine received a reputation for piracy in association with the Portuguese, due to endemic piracy in the Bay of Bengal.[10] Between the 16th and 18th centuries, the Marmas migrated from their homeland to the Chittagong Hill Tracts, coinciding with the Kingdom of Mrauk U's conquest of Chittagong.[11]

Records of the East India Company and others indicate that the Marmas migrated from the Kingdom of Mrauk U to Chittagong of Bangladesh in two phases of migrations during 14th to 17th centuries in the golden period of Mrauk U. In the first phase, during the Mrauk U Kingdom expanded to some parts of Chittagong Division. Secondly, Marma ancestors fled to Chittagong and settled down as the Arakanese kingdom was conquered and annexed by Burmese king Bodawpaya in 1785.

Marma girls, c. 1906.

In 1971, following the Bangladesh Liberation War in which Bangladesh achieved independence, the country's majority Bengali Muslims began settling in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, which has displaced native inhabitants.[12]

Genetic studies

Genetic studies have indicated that the Marma populations share a high frequency of Indian and low frequency of East Asian specific maternal haplogroups, and have the highest haplotype diversity when compared with Tripura and Chakma populations, suggesting deep colonization of the region by Marmas.[13]


The Marmas are subdivided into 12 clans, named after the place from where they migrated.[14] These clans include the Ragraisa, consisting of Marmas living south of the Karnaphuli river, the Palaingsa from Ramgarh Upazila, the Khyongsa (ချောင်းသား) from riverside communities, the Toungsa (တောင်သား) from the hill ridges, and smaller clans including the Longdusa, the Frangsa, the Kyokara-sa, and the Talongsa (တလိုင်းသား).[11][9]

The culture of the Marmas is similar to that of the Rakhine people, including their language, food, clothes, religion, dance, and funeral rites. Marma men wear a sarong called lungyi, while Marma women wear a sarong called thabein.

Marmas mostly depend on agriculture, traditionally practicing slash-and-burn cultivation on the hills. Their belief in Theravada Buddhism is as deep as the Rakhine society's, with an emphasis on ritual practices in deities. Some Marmas also practice Animism, Christianity and Islam.[15]

Marmas follow the Burmese calendar. They celebrate the New Year, called Sangrai (သင်္ကြန်), which begins on the first day of Bohag.[16] They make sangraimu, which is a form of traditional cakes. They take part in Sangrain Relong Pwe (သင်္ကြန်ရေလောင်းပွဲ; water pouring), where young Marma men and women spray each other with water. Sangrai is celebrated in three days, On the 1st day, called Painchwai or Akro, homes are decorated with flowers. On the 2nd day, Sangrai Akya, Marmas participate in traditional sports, dances, cultural activities and hold meetings regarding community issues. They also go to monasteries to participate in the Buddha statue's bathing (cleansing) ritual on this day. On the 3rd day, called Sangrai Atada, they cook a vegetable dish made out of more than 100 ingredients, called hangbong (ဟင်းပေါင်း; pachan in Bangla).[17]

After death, Marma elderlies are cremated, while younger deceased Marmas are buried.


Like other ethnic peoples, the Marma's celebrate a variety of traditional festivals such as birth, death, marriage and New Year. The main festivals of Marma's are: - Buddha Purnima , Kathina , Oyahgyai or Prabarana Purnima , Sangrai etc. The Marma New Year festival is called Sangrai . In addition to these festivals, other natural festivals are also celebrated, which are often similar to other indigenous ethnic groups in Bangladesh.

Buddha Punirma

On this full moon day, Mahamati Gautam Buddha was born, attained enlightenment and attained Mahaparinirvana . It is a religious festival. Every year the festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor.


One night it's the color of cotton yarn from the Buddhist beggars wear cibara are made each solid cibara say.

Wagyai or Pravarana

Wagyai or Pravarana Purnima is a major religious festival of the Marmas. On this day this festival is celebrated with great joy and happiness in every society of Marmas and Bihar. These days delicious cakes are made at home. On this day at night, lanterns are blown to worship and dedicate the great hair of Gautam Buddha .


The name of the Marma New Year festival is ' Sangraii '. This is one of their main traditional ceremonies. They organize this festival on the Bengali new year occasion of month Boishakh. On the occasion of the New Year, they organize various interesting events in Sangrai. Water festival is one of these events. On that day, the Marma youths rejoiced by sprinkling water on each other. By sprinkling water, they wash away the dirt and ink of the past year. Apart from that, they also find the person of their choice through water sports. In addition to water sports, they celebrate the Sangrai festival by performing other rituals such as pangchowai (flower sangraii), sangraii ji, candle lighting and buddhasnan. They enjoy their festivals by speaking on their mother tongue.

Notable people


  • Dr. Moung Usha Thowai, Doctor of Medicine 'Soviet Union' Physician, Writer
  • Uk Ching Marma, Bangladeshi freedom fighter
  • Ushwe Sing, Bangladeshi politician
  • Saching Prue Jerry, Bangladeshi politician
  • Aung Shwe Prue Chowdhury, Bangladeshi politician
  • Ma Mya Ching, Bangladeshi politician
  • Anai Mogini, Bangladeshi footballer
  • Mitul Marma, Bangladeshi footballer
  • Aungmraching Marma, Bangladesh national team footballer and former captain
  • Dr Mong Sano Marma, Scientist Nucleotide Chemistry
  • Mongshewpru Chowdhury Apu, Bangladeshi politician
  • Kiki Aye, Writer and Poet
  • Nuthowai Barang, Educationist & Writer, DU.
  • Mongsathowai Chowdhury, Freedom Fighter
  • Kya Shew pru, Writer and Academician


See also


  1. ^ "Table 1.4 Ethnic Population by Group and Sex" (PDF) (in Bengali). Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. 2021. p. 33. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 March 2023. Retrieved 24 August 2022.
  2. ^ "Table C-16 Population by Mother Tongue: Tripura". Census of India 2011. Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India. Archived from the original on 11 March 2022.
  3. ^ Charney, Michael (November 2005). "Theories and Historiography of the Religious Basis of Ethnonyms in Rakhaing (Arakan), Myanmar (Burma)" (PDF). The Forgotten Kingdom of Arakan: A Public Seminar on the People of Present Day Arakan State of Myanmar. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 June 2023. Retrieved 4 March 2023.
  4. ^ a b Kyaw Minn Htin (December 2015). "The Marma from Bangladesh: A 'de-Arakanized' Community in Chittagong Hill Tracts" (PDF). Suvannabhumi. 7 (2): 133–153. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 June 2023. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  5. ^ Aung-Thwin, Michael (June 2008). "Mranma Pran: When context encounters notion". Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. 39 (2): 193–217. doi:10.1017/S0022463408000179. ISSN 1474-0680. S2CID 154992861. Archived from the original on 4 March 2023. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  6. ^ "Marma". Voice of Jummaland. Archived from the original on 22 October 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  7. ^ Charney, Michael (November 2005). "Theories and Historiography of the Religious Basis of Ethnonyms in Rakhaing (Arakan), Myanmar (Burma)" (PDF). The Forgotten Kingdom of Arakan: A Public Seminar on the People of Present Day Arakan State of Myanmar. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 June 2023. Retrieved 4 March 2023.
  8. ^ Kyaw Minn Htin (December 2015). "The Marma from Bangladesh: A 'de-Arakanized' Community in Chittagong Hill Tracts" (PDF). Suvannabhumi. 7 (2): 133–153. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 June 2023. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  9. ^ a b I, Fonkem Achankeng (28 September 2015). Nationalism and Intra-State Conflicts in the Postcolonial World. Lexington Books. ISBN 9781498500265.
  10. ^ Hasan, Md. Mahmudul (2 November 2022). "Panchayat and colonialism in Humayun Kabir's Men and Rivers". Journal of Postcolonial Writing. 58 (6): 744–757. doi:10.1080/17449855.2022.2087318. ISSN 1744-9855.
  11. ^ a b Pain, Frederic (9 August 2017). "Towards a Panchronic Perspective on a Diachronic Issue: The Rhyme <-uiw> in Old Burmese" (PDF). Australian Journal of Linguistics. 37 (4): 424–464. doi:10.1080/07268602.2017.1350129. ISSN 0726-8602. S2CID 55078797. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 May 2019. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Ethnic violence in Bangladesh: assault on minority peoples continues - Asian Studies Association of Australia". Asian Studies Association of Australia. 2 August 2017. Archived from the original on 19 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  13. ^ Gazi, Nurun Nahar; Tamang, Rakesh; Singh, Vipin Kumar; Ferdous, Ahmed; Pathak, Ajai Kumar; Singh, Mugdha; Anugula, Sharath; Veeraiah, Pandichelvam; Kadarkaraisamy, Subburaj (9 October 2013). "Genetic Structure of Tibeto-Burman Populations of Bangladesh: Evaluating the Gene Flow along the Sides of Bay-of-Bengal". PLOS ONE. 8 (10): e75064. Bibcode:2013PLoSO...875064G. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075064. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 3794028. PMID 24130682.
  14. ^ "The MARMA". Archived from the original on 5 November 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  15. ^ Skutsch, Carl, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of the World's Minorities. New York: Routledge. p. 181. ISBN 1-57958-468-3.
  16. ^ Barua, Sanjoy; Khan, Tamanna (13 April 2015). "Blaze of 'Boisabi' colour". The Daily Star. Archived from the original on 2 July 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  17. ^ "Hill districts wear a festive look as Boisabi nears". The Daily Star. 12 April 2011. Archived from the original on 2 July 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  18. ^ "Member of Legislative Assembly". Archived from the original on 3 December 2023. Retrieved 3 December 2023.
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Marma people
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