Tripura in Bandarban
Tripura is the third largest tribal group of population in the Chittagong hill tracts (CHT) region. Tripura people now living in Bangladesh had their original residence in the Indian state of Tripura, although many believe that they are in fact descendents of the Bodo group of people, considered as the forefathers of the peoples of Assam, Burma and Thailand. Tripuras initially migrated to Comilla, Sylhet and Chittagong areas as well as to some other regions like Noakhali, Dhaka, Faridpur and Barisal. In course of time, however, they concentrated largely in the CHT, especially in and around Ramgarh and khagrachhari accounting for nearly 80% of all Tripuras now living in the CHT area. Tripuras call themselves Tipara and also Tipra, while Marmas call them Mrung, Bawm call them Vaipa and Pankho & Lusai as Tuibuk . The 1881 census recorded the distribution of Tripura people as: CHT 15,054, Comilla 1,895, Faridpur 101, Barisal 45, Noakhali 16, Dhaka 4, and Sylhet and other areas 268. The number of Tripuras in the CHT area was 79,772 in1991. This figure accounts for 6.6% of the total tribal population in the CHT. The census report of 2011 shown 20,685 in Bandarban, 86,196 in Khagrachari and 17,421 collectively as other community in Rangamati (a separate Tripura population is not shown). Tripuras are divided into at least 36 groups (dafas) of which 16 are in Bangladesh. Some of these groups have a number of subgroups/sub clans.
All groups and subgroups have their own dialects, dresses and ornaments. Each of these groups/subgroups is usually named after an incidence they encountered or occupation they practice. The language of Tripuras (Kokborok) belongs to the Bodo group, which has its origin in the Assam branch of the Tibeto-Burma language under the Sino-Tibetan family. Kokborok (roman and bangla script)is widely used in writing letters and preparing lists of indigenous medicine. Tripuras are mainly animists/ Hinduism but their beliefs and religious practices are different from caste Hindus in many ways. They worship the god shiva and the goddess Kali and 14 other gods and goddesses. They also believe in a number of evil spirits, incorporeal beings and demons, who have their abode in jungles and who do harm to people by inflicting diseases. Tripuras sacrifice animals and birds in the name of their gods and goddesses. They believe that rivers, lakes and canals were once human beings and but sacrificed their lives and turned into nature bodies to serve mankind. Like Hindus, Tripuras believe in life hereafter and consider that those who have done good work will live in ease and comfort in the next life but that wrong doers will face ceaseless toil and constant harassment.
Tripuras do not have a uniform lineage system. In some groups, sons draw their lineage from the father's side, while in some others; daughters draw their lineage from the mother's side. The eldest son of a family can inherit his entire father's property but the other sons/daughters do not get any share at all. However, the right of the eldest son to inherit any property is forfeited if he separates himself from the parent's family when the father is still alive. Provisions of inheritance by other sons or the daughters take effect only in circumstances when the family does not have any son or when the eldest son is disqualified on the above ground.
Dress & ornaments:
The traditional dress of a Tripura man include dhuti (a narrow piece of cloth clad round the waist and between the legs with a fringed end hanging down from the rear) and a khaban (turban). Tripuras wear a ruggedly sewn jacket in winter days. The dress of a Tripura woman is similar to that of a Chakma woman and in most cases it is a petticoat with a blouse on the upper part of the body. In the past, married Tripura women usually did not wear anything to cover the breasts. Unmarried girls distinguish themselves by wearing colorful clothes. Both men and women wear crescent shaped silver earrings. The women wear necklace made of beads and shells, nose skewers and ornaments on the hair, neck, wrist and ankle.
Jhum (sifting cultivation) is the prime annual income of the Tripura. They meet all expenditures of the income from Jhum.
Born, Marriage and Demise:
Tripura used to believe that human being must die after born and it is happening upon the wills of Creator/god.
New born baby:
Thewife gets well preparation before her birth giving. The close relatives are informed by husband including birth attendants (kamayuk, laomayuk) while pain started of wife. The males waiting a success deliver sitting in verandah and women are busy with wife in a house. After a success of deliver, the attendant informs the male folk whether the new baby is male or female. Then the male folk bring 7 basket of soil from out side of house if the baby is male and 5 basket for female. They make a temporary fireplace/furnace where the wife to stay at least 7-10 days till the naval dry of the baby. The wife honors and offer wine and taka to the attendant (kamayuk)and others for her successful deliver. After a month an occasion of naming the baby is organized by the parents. According to the customs the attendant, (kamayuk, laomayuk) and relatives are invited to participate ceremony. The Ushoi sub clan of Tripura believed that the character of baby bears the laomayuk who received the baby from the hand of kamayukma. Then they choose a good name according to the day & date of born.
There are 2 types of marriage in Ushoi sub clan of Tripura such as arrange and
love marriage (chamroikamo and toikhali lamo).The arranged marriage has 4 steps:
i) Choosing a bride –The parents appoint mediator/ghotak (andramkhroha) and few young boys to go see and choose a bride. They take a bottle of wine and 50-100 taka for bridal parents. They discuss and fix a tentative date consensually.
ii) Fixation of date –Both the party agrees the fixed date of marriage and gets preparation according to the Tripura customs.
iii) Marriage day- The boy’s parents provide evening sacrifice (chumali) at home praying god for success marriage. Next day, the boy/ bridegroom is dressed up with f 5-7ft long white cloth for khaban/pagree on head, 5-7ft white cloth as wrapper(chadar) and oiled on body. This job is done by a couple. The bride groom is to carry a piece of long dao (da klao). Before depart from home, one egg is cut in front of the house and justified a successful journey and marriage by the andramkhroha . The bride groom takes decorated bamboo cylinder of tooth brush(wangsoi, wangsoikho, of fashia dried fish 3 pairs, one pair of red pinon (rinai & risha kchao) , 14 to 17 bottles of home made wine optimum betel nuts & betel vine, tea, sugar/molasses etc along with them. In the evening, the parents of bridegroom hand over the red pinon (rinai & risha kchao)to the bride’s parent. A long discussion is held having wine & dine including whether the bride groom is agree to stay 4 years 4 months at his father in law’s residence(chamaroi).
iv) Introduction to the relatives: Early in the morning the couples have to fetch water from a fountain/stream near by village and the eat to gather in a plate. It is a breaking of shyness of couples and it is a social symbol of life partnership. Then the parents of bride arrange an introduction session of couples with relatives. The couples walk to gather and vow to the relatives for blessing. The relatives take up some cotto0n with rice and throw reciting protection of evils and again take up some cotton and rice to bless the couple for betterment and prosperous of life.
Tripura people also believe man is mortal, which is happening upon god’s will. The dead body is place at home on bamboo stretcher, bathing and putting new dress, wrapped cloths, food, musical instruments and candles and a coin is put on forehead, red thread on lips, a necklace made of black & white thread and hanged red cloth over the head which made a dreadful. The dead body is kept for 2-3 days waiting for distance relative’s arrival.
The visitors who come to see and convey sympathetic to the family members, play cards and chase games beside the dead body. Few of the comers have to dance a pair of male and female around the dead body to wish for the next carnation of life.
The dead body is taken to the graveyard for fire as some of the clans are animist, Buddhist and Hindus. The stake of fire woods is 7 layers for woman and 5 for men where the dead body is put for burning. Fewer are the Christian do different as dafon with prayer in the graveyard. An old man led all the activities in the graveyard and after completion of burning return home having bath in the stream. The people, who stay at home, put a plate in verandah with few turmeric and water. The returnees from graveyard spread this water on their knees heads and body believing purification. The Karbari, village leader wants to know from the elder son how much money (donation)are collected and expenditures incurred and how to distribute the properties among them. All the decision is taken by the karbari with the consent of other relatives in the meeting.
The most important social festival of the Tripura people is the Baishu that lasts for three days beginning from the second last day of the Bengali calendar. On the first day of the festival called hari baishu children decorate homes with flowers, wear clean dress and visit neighbors, who fed them with cakes. Elders also visit neighbors and are fed with drinks. From this first day of the festival a group of no less than 15 dancers display folk dances by visiting every house in their village. The dances and visit to neighbors continue on the second and third day named boishumma and basikata respectively. Dancers are given drinks, maimi/binni/ rice by the houses they visit. After all the houses have been visited, a puja is arranged in which the gifts received from different houses are offered to god goraiya. A major rule in the rituals is that if someone participates in the dance in a year, he is to do the same in three consecutive years. It is believed that failure to do so will lead to god's discontent.