Tanchangya a small ethnic community living in the Chittagong hill tracts. In terms of population they rank 5th among ethnic communities of Bangladesh. According to the 1991 census, their number was 21,057 and the number of Tanchangya households was 4,043. According to census of 2001 the number of Tanchangya 31,164 in CHT (source: solidarity2002, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum).
Tanchangyas live in the Hill districts of rangamati, bandarban and khagrachhari, Boisyabili area of rangunia upazila in chittagong district, and in ukhia and teknaf areas of cox's bazar district. Like other tribals, Tanchangyas build their habitation in forested slopes of hills. Tanchangyas also live in the southeastern regions of Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur States of India, as well as in the arakan region of Myanmar. In Arakan they are known as 'dounnak'. Anthropologically, they belong to the Mongoloid group. They speak pali, prakrit and ancient Bengali, all part of the Aryan group of languages. Tanchangyas are modest in nature.
There are many peoples who imaging that tanchangya are the sub-tribe of Chakma community. In 1869 DC of CHT Mr. Lewin renamed Tanchangyas as the sub-tribe of Chakma and he wrote spelling "Toungjynya". The Tanchangya living in the present Cox's Bazar district are identified as Chakma. They call themselves as Chakma and their Bengalee neighbors also know them as Chakma. But for many specific characteristics(Language, dress ctc.)
Tanchangya community became as one of the separate ethnic community and after a long term continuous demand for separate identity of Tanchangyas community the Govt. recognized Tanchangyas as a separate community in 1989 (Rupayan Dewan; Jhum). Anthropologically Tanchangya belong to the Mongoloid group.
The word "Tong" means Hill and "Taugya" means Jhum (Hilltop Sweden cultivation). So, the word Tanchangya means Hill Sweden farmer. Arakanise Tanchangyas are also known as "Doingnak".
Tanchangya community consists of about 12 Gasha (W.W. Hunter wrote: Goza or clan). But in Bangladesh there are seven Gosha. These are:
Tanchangyas communicate each other by using their own language. Where are Tanchangya language consists of Pali, Prakrit and ancient Bengali. But Tanchangys has no own alphabets.
Like many of the Indigenous communities, Tanchangyas also have a very organized social and family structure. A Tanchangya family usually consists of 5-10 members but generally the sons who get married choose to live separately in a separate house. When the parents are old, usually the youngest or the eldest son is supposed to look after them. However, any son has the right to look after the parents if he so desires, so do the daughters.
Tanchangya men usually wear loincloth and long-sleeve shirts. However, there have been changes in their dresses and ornaments in recent years. They now use the dresses of men and women of other communities of Bangladesh. For instance, their women wear sari, blouse, salwar and kameez and their men wear shirt, trouser and lungi.
Traditionally a Tanchangya woman wears colourful dresses and ornaments. The full dresses of Tanchangya women are known as "Paiet kapor". That means the total dresses consists of five parts. These five parts are:
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