|Tripuran Indigenous, working with Hand Loom|
The stroke of a bureaucrats pen in 1947, may have settled some disputation between Hindus and Muslims, but it left a number of families of indigenous people separated from their kith and kin.
Such a group are the gentle, colourful and industrious Tripuran people, of whom an estimated 20,000 remain in the Bandarban area of Bangladesh. Across the Indian border, some 30% of the population of the North East Indian State of Tripura are those kith and kin.
People of the Tibetan-Burmese indigenous groups, of whom a number of different peoples occupy lands in India and across the border in Bangladesh.
Originally from the Yanktse River area of western China, they migrated to their lands in the subcontinent, in most cases, more than two millennia ago.
For almost 2,000 years they were ruled over by the same Royal Debbarmas family, until royal rule became unfashionable in the Republics of India and East and West Pakistan.
A colourful, friendly and hospitable people, most have converted from their traditional Animist beliefs, to Buddhism and Christianity.
Whilst the men now tend to wear Bangla costume, or even, like most Bengalis, western clothing, the older women in particular tend still to favour their traditional, sarong like, Rignai, usually worn with a small breast covering, and about 12 inches of bead necklaces. In their homes, such older women still go bare breasted at times.
Reduced to a minority population they may have been in their traditional lands both sides of the border, but theirs is a particularly strong history, which includes a period of ruling over the lands of the State of Tripura, and all the lands of Bangladesh that encompassed such cities as Chittagong, Noakhali, Feni and Comilla. Indeed, the latter town is where the last residence of the last Queen of Tripura still stands.
Traditional family groups, of from five to about fifty families still live in a traditional manner in hillside villages in Bandarban area. Elevated on stilts, their finely constructed homes are accessed by narrow step ladders, which are not easy for others to climb, and certainly not in numbers. It is doubtful if even the most agile tiger, that once roamed these hills, would ever manage to move its bulk up such a narrow step way.
Day visits are not hard to arrange, and there are villages within 90 minutes drive from Cox Bazar. Soon, home stays to experience the village way of life will be possible to arrange, too.