Chakma, Daingnet in Myanmar (Burma)

Chakma, Daingnet
Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2022
Kerry Olson  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  Anonymous
People Name: Chakma, Daingnet
Country: Myanmar (Burma)
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 29,000
World Population: 805,000
Primary Language: Chakma
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Tribal - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Burmese Chakma dwell in the mountains of northern Rakhine State of Myanmar and adjacent southern areas of Chin State. The Chakma are known officially as Daignet, one of the seven official ethnic groups in Rakhine State.

Unlike Tibeto-Burman speaking tribes in Myanmar, who migrated southward from China, the Chakma came from Bangladesh or India to escape warfare in Bengal. They primary language of the Daignet people is Chakma. The New Testament and the Jesus Film are available in the Chakma language.

Myanmar gained its independence from Britain in 1948. Much of modern Burmese history has tragically been one of civil wars between the Burmese majority and the nation’s minority groups that includes the Shan, Karen, Lahu and Rohingya. The Burmese military launched another coup in 2021 and is currently ruling the country.

The Daignet Chakma people are an indigenous people who live in Bangladesh, India and Myanmar. The vast majority of the Chakma reside in Bangladesh and India. A much smaller group lives in west central Myanmar near the Bangladeshi border.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Chakma make their living by agriculture and animal husbandry. Their staple food is rice. Along with rice, the Chakma cultivate tropical fruits, vegetables, palm trees, coconuts, and cotton. Most villages also raise chickens, pigs and goat to supplement their diets. Some Chakma men work in the fishing and logging industries. The Chakma trade rice, cotton and fish to buy things they cannot make for themselves such as cell phones and appliances. Some Chakma young people are leaving the rural villages and moving to cities in search of a better life.

Marriage to one spouse is the norm among the Daignet. Couples tend to have many children. Many children die before their tenth birthday due to the lack of modern medicine. Rural children often quit school after a few years to help their families make a living. Illiteracy is an issue for Chakma women and girls. Elders rule the villages and make judicial decisions. It is adult sons’ responsibility to take care of their aged parents. Young people choose their own spouses with the consent of their families.

The Chakma are primarily an oral culture. They have a tradition of songs, poems, dances, art and festive clothing which are prominent on Buddhist holidays. If a son joins a Buddhist monastery, the family gains honor in the sight of other Chakma people.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Chakma claim to have converted to Buddhism long before coming to Myanmar, and still practice Buddhism to this day, along with many animistic and folk religious practices.

Buddhism is the major world religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama or the Buddha, who lived in the 6th and 5th century BC in ancient India. The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths by which one can gain spiritual knowledge and escape the endless cycles of reincarnation. Theravada, one of the two major branches of Buddhism, declares that by following the Noble Eightfold Path of right intentions and right actions that a Buddhist can achieve nirvana.

To most Buddhists, however, these things have far less meaning than their traditional beliefs, which are usually animistic. In animism, evil spirits must be appeased through prayers, sacrifices and rituals. Buddhism allows people to mix Buddhist teachings with traditional religion.

Two of the important Buddhist yearly holidays are Vesak, the Buddha's birthday celebrated in May or June and Bodhi Day, the holiday in December or January which commemorates the day that the historical Buddha experienced enlightenment under a Bodhi tree.

What Are Their Needs?

Today there few if any known Christians among the Chakma in Myanmar. There is a growing movement to Christ among the Chakma of India and Bangladesh. Teams of believers can bring modern medicine and solar panels to the Chakma villages. The Burmese Chakma must see the love of Christ shown to them in practical ways. Most of all, the Chakma must hear the good news about Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and grant them eternal life.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send workers to the Chakma of Myanmar.

Pray the Holy Spirit gives the Chakma people a desire to read the Chakma New Testament.

Pray that Chakma believers in India and Bangladesh would come and tell the Burmese Chakma about God’s good news about Christ.

Pray the Lord establishes a growing church among the Burmese Chakma in this decade.

Text Source:   Joshua Project