Art and Culture

Reviving Rohingya Language and Preserving Culture

Rohingya people are a predominantly Muslim community living in Rakhine state in Burma. Rohingyas are a nation with a population of about 3 million people (both home and abroad). The community has a supporting history and historically settled territory, distinct culture, civilization, language and literature, and a large population. They share a culture different from the cultures of those around them. Rohingyas are descended from local indigenous tribes who lived in Arakan since the dawn of history. They trace their ancestry to Arabs, Moors, Pathans, Moguls, Bengalis and some Indo-Mongoloid people. Early Muslim settlements in Arakan date back to the 7th century CE. They developed from different communities of people and consolidated their population in a common geographical location in Arakan well before the Burman invasion in 1784.


Rohingya had a Unique Culture

However, successive Burmese regimes dehumanized the Rohingya community in their official propaganda and depicted them as amoral or dangerous to society.

Rohingya Culture

The Rohingya people are a predominantly Muslim community living in Rakhine State in Burma, with a population of three million around the world. They have a distinct culture, civilization, language and literature, and a large population. However, the Rohingya people in Burma have been dehumanized by successive Burmese regimes through murder, torture, arbitrary arrest, executions, rape, and sexual assault.

Language: The Rohingya language is threatened by denial of recognition and cultural genocide by the Burmese government. So, we are raising awareness through the Rohingya Centre to revive and protect their cultural and linguistic heritage.

Family structure: Rohingyas live in a joint family, with the father playing a more prominent role than the mother. Both husband and wife share joy and suffering, with the majority of household activities performed by the female members.

Role of education: Rohingya were the most educated people in Arakan, but during the British colonial period and post-independence period, the education system worsened.

Religion: Rohingya families are Sunni Muslims and adhere to Islamic traditions. They typically pray five times a day, fast in Ramadan, give alms, and perform Hajj once in their lifetime. Some people practice Christianity and Hinduism.

Food and Cuisine: Rohingyas eat rice, fish, vegetables, chilies, dairy, chicken, mutton, beef. As a tradition, they like luçfira, Duñfiça, bola fiça, and faan (betel leaf).

Marriage: Rohingya marriages are mostly arranged, with the bride and groom not allowed to meet before the wedding. The engagement ceremony is usually held in the bride’s residence, and the reception party is usually held at the groom’s family’s residence. The wedding ceremony includes Fultola, Biya, Firáni, and Hádi.

Music and Songs: Rohingya culture is rich in music and song, using traditional instruments and modern instruments. ‘Howla’ is a popular song sung at wedding ceremonies. Geet are traditional and seasonal songs used by farmers, boatmen, mothers for children, and relatives. Kawali is a legacy of the Mughal period.

Sports and Games: Rohingyas have a variety of traditional sports and games, including Boli khela (wrestling), boat racing, paddy transplanting, hunting, football, volleyball and cane ball.

Rohingya Clothing: Rohingya culture is similar to other ethnic groups in Burma, with men wearing Bazu and women wearing Suli, Tami, Romal (scarfs), and Burka (veil) when in public.

Occupation: The Rohingya people in Arakan are hardworking and skillful and have become rich due to their skills and expertise in agriculture.

Major festivals and celebrations: The Rohingya family celebrates festivals such as Akikah, ear piercing, and circumcision, and respects Islamic functions such as Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, Lilatul Baraat, and Ashura.

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