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The Tripura PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 27 March 2008

The Tripuras are another large ethnic group in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region. At present they live in CHT, especially in Ramgarh and Khagrachhari. It is also believed that Tripuras currently living in Bangladesh originally came from the Indian state of Tripura. The number of Tripuras in CHT areas was close to 80,000 in 1991, and it has no doubt increased considerably by this time.

Tripuras call their society Dafa. Among the Tripura community, all the groups and subgroups have their own dialects, dresses and ornaments. This tribal group does not have a uniform lineage system. In some groups, sons draw their lineage from the father's side while daughters draw their lineage from the mother's side.

Kokborok, the language of the Tripuras, belongs to the Bodo group which had its origin in the Assam branch of the Tibeto-Burma family. Kokborok was widely used in writing letters, performing magic and preparing lists of indigenous medicines. But due to lack of use, their script is on the verge of extinction.

Tripuras are mainly Hindus though their beliefs and religious practices are different from those of caste Hindus in many aspects. They worship the god Shiva and the goddess Kali along with 14 other gods and goddesses. They also believe in a number of evil spirits, incorporeal beings and demons, who have their domicile in jungles and who do harm to people by inflicting diseases. They sacrifice animals and birds in the name of their gods and goddesses.

The Tripuras build their houses on hilltops. They also build stairs to climb into their houses. Their houses lie somewhat scattered throughout their villages. The traditional dress of the Tripura man includes dhuti (a narrow piece of cloth wound round the waist between the legs with a fringed end hanging down from the rear) and a Khaban (turban). During the winter they wear a ruggedly sewn jacket. Both men and women wear crescent-shaped silver ear rings. The women wear necklaces made of beads and shells, nose skewers and ornaments on the hair, neck, wrist and ankle.

The most important social festival of the Tripuras is the Baisuk that lasts for three days. It commences from the penultimate day of the Bengali calendar. On the first day of the festival called hari baisuk, children decorate homes with flowers, wear clean clothes and visit neighbours. Elders also visit neighbours and are treated to drinks. A group of about 15 dancers performs folk dances and are offered chicken, rice and drinks by the householders they visit. Their dances are really colourful and enjoyable.

This ethnic community follows a custom of arranged marriage which is traditionally not allowed within one's group. The father of the bridegroom has to pay the expenses for the bride's dress and ornaments. Before marriage the bridegroom takes up residence in the bride's home for two years and becomes a member of her family.

The Tripuras burn their dead and when the fire is extinguished the ashes and unburned bones are collected and thrown into a river or pond. The Sraddha is observed 13 days after the death.

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