Customs and Rituals
The lineage in Tripuri is called Sandai or bosong. Most of the groups or sub-groups are named after some animal, birds which is prevalent among most of Tripuris. All the sub-groups of Tripuris lineage are patriarchal. The member of different lineages are known according to their respective ancestors. As the members of a lineage are related, their behavior pattern is also similar to certain extent. The adopted son bears the lineage identity of the foster parents. The unmarried daughters belong to the lineage of their fathers or brothers. After marriages the daughter gets her husbands lineage.
The property of the Tripuris maybe classified into two heads:-
1) Ancestral property which is inherited from the ancestors. 2) The property acquired by self during his life time. Movable and immovable properties are to be included in the first category. Movable property included plough and other agricultural implements, domestic animals, domestic articles, ornaments, clothings,utensils, cash money etc.
RIGHT OF PROPERTY IN EARLY ERA
The right of inheritance among the Tripuris is from the father to sons. The eldest son gets generally major share than his other brothers. Actually the daughters also have the right of equal share of her fathers property. The head of the family gives a particular share to his wife. If the wife of the deceased stays with one of her son, he who look after his mother will inherit her property. The married or unmarried daughters or sisters of a person are only entitled to get property if their fathers or brothers desires so.
RIGHT TO PROPERTY IN PRESENT DAYS
In the present day after death of a person his son or sons get two third share of the father's property. And the rest one third is shared with equally between the mother and her daughters. If the wife of a deceased stays with one of the son or daughter that very son or daughter will is entitled to get this property after the death of mother or to the particular person if she desired so. If any property is registered against the mother then the daughter is the legal successor to her mothers property. The father generally divides the property during his life time, but it is done so during the latter part of his life. In some occasion father is forced to divide the property to avoid the disturbance created by the adult sons. When father married second time, he divides property earlier to avoid the quarrel among the sons of two wives. In case of division he keeps a particular share for himself, for unmarried daughter, for minor sons. The adopted son of a childless person has the right to inherit the property of his foster father.
If a person dies without having any child his widow is entitled to inherit her deceased husbands property.
MARRIAGE SYSTEM AS A WHOLE
Marriage Ceremony Being Performed:
1) Hamjwk Tubui Kaimani:Bringing bride at Home In this system of marriage the negotiation between two families is made by a marriage broker. He is known as 'Raibai' or 'Andra' in Riang dialect. In finalizing a marriage the parents or the guardians play the sole role. The bride or the groom had no choice. This type of marriage always take place in the house of bridegroom.
If the girl be chosen by the parents of the boy, the guardian of the daughter demand dowry of an amount of money, ornaments etc. Among the Tripuris the bride do not bring any dowry to her father-in-law's house. So the Tripuri society is free from dowry system. Things have changed now and because of cultural influence and invasion some peoples have started demanding dowry at present.
Koksurma:- It is the preliminary proposal for marriage, it may come from either side of the party. Generally the raibai performs the brokerage in the koksurma . If the proposal are accepted by both the parties then they fix a date for a final settlement called Kokswhngmung.
Kokswhngmung:- It is the finalization of marriage where both sides of the party commit to get their ward marriage. The guardian of both sides sit side by side in front of two pots of rice beer called 'bwtwk'. A bell-metal plate containing some cotton,durba, copper coin,rice, soil etc. are put in front of them to perform the rituluals of Dangdua. Each person performs three times. The would be bride then comes in front of the assembled persons and bows before the elders. The dates and times, terms and conditions of the marriage, bearing of expenditure etc. are finalized in this kokswhnglaimung .
Khum funukmung:- After the finalization of the marriage the rituals of invitation by offering betel leaf, nut and flower etc. to every family of the village. Its is started from the house of the Chokdori, the village head. On the fixed date the bride is brought in the grooms house and received with much enthusiasm, and dangdua.
Aya: He is the helper and assistant of the groom, in dressing, make up, and procedural follow-up. He is the one who helps the groom to follow the rituals, procedure, and all function that are carried out in the ceremony. He is hte one who sprinkle the secret water over the heads of the bride and groom after the Ochai or priest.
Ayajwk: She is the counter part for the bride. She is the helper of the would be bride. She helps her in her makeup along with the companion of the bride. She helps out the new bride to perform the ritual and all the related activity in the marriage ceremony. She there through out the marriage with the new bride till the marriage is completely over. She is the second one to sprinkle the Sacred water on the marriage ceremony to the couple to be wed. The sprinkling of Sacret water is the most important part of the ceremony.
Bedi: Marriage Dais:
Image of Bedi
It is the stage where marriage ceremony is performed. It is made up of bamboo, cane, wood etc. Over the bedi seven layers of plain cloths is tied one over another like tent. Jari is a pot made up of brass, it is some what like kettle but elongated, used in carrying the secret water to be sprinkle over the bride-groom, first by the priest then by the parents and other elders. The rituals is performed in the morning hour, by Ochai the priest. The ritual is called Lampra wathop ,a deity is worshipped along with the Twisangrongma . After the ceremony the new couple bow down before the seniors by touching the feet and the aged person bless the couple with gifts called 'Heli' . Following this ceremony on the same day a grand feast is served to all for the marriage. The next day of the marriage is called Dolan when post marriage ceremony is observed by the close relatives of both party. It is also arranged with grand party, the non-vegetarian dish of different kind is a must in Tripuri marriage, and incomplete with out it.Maitwrwng beraimani:- (Honey Moon)
It is comparable with honey moon, the first visit by the newly wed couple after the marriage to the brides parents. It is performed generally after three days of marriage. This time the bride is going to visit her home as the Guest.
Different kinds of marriages: 2)Nok kaisa Kaimung- Marriage by Exchange: Some time marriage is arranged between two families by exchanging a boy and a girl and thus avoiding the payment of bride-price. The rituals and procedure remain almost same.3) Kharlai Kaijakmani- Marriage by elopement:
This type of marriage occur by mutual consent of bride and groom. The boy and girl fall in love but do not get the approval of respective parents. The boy generally takes the initiative and ran away from home, get marry in some favourable relatives house by performance of the wathop worship.4) Fuisai Tubuma-Marriage by
purchase: In this form of marriage the bridegroom or his parent pay certain amount of money in cash to the bride's family as her price. All sorts of matrimonial rituals is observed in he ceremony. The brides parents do not have much say in such type of marriage.5) Koklam Kwrwi Kaimung- Marriage by capture:
This form of marriage is not very common and popular among Tripuris. It is a rare occasion, and no wedding rituals are maintained except the wathop worship.6) Hamjaklai Kaijakmani-Marriage by love:
This form of marriage is very common among the Tripuris now and gradually increasing. When a boy and girl fall in love they bring to the notice of their respective parents and get consent, then the parents arrange the marriage. All the rituals of the wedding are observed.7) Sikla sokya kaimani-Child marriage:
This type of marriage among the Tripuri was in practice in the past. It is becoming rare, and found in remote village only.8) Chamari Omor- Marriage by service:
This type of marriage was prevalent in the Tripuri society. In this form of marriage the groom leaves his house and settle down to his would be father-in-law house. He remains in father in laws house for life long and make his home there at father-in-laws land. All the normal procedure of wedding is followed.9) Chamari ompa
This form of marriage is identical with the marriage of chamari omor , the only difference is that the bridegroom is supposed to serve the parent-in-law's house for certain period of time, generally two or three years. All other rituals remain same.10) Sundul fulmani-Widow Remarriage:-
Widow re-marriage is commonly practiced in Tripuri society. A widow, widower, divorcee, deserted woman is allowed to remarry. This type of marriage is also settled by the 'Raibai'. The guardian of both the parties settle the marriage in presence of the raibai and fix for the date. The worship of the 'Wathop' is done by the ochai. But the arrangement of the ceremony is done in low profile.10) Kaklaimani-Divorce:-
Divorce is known as Kaklaimani:
It is permissible in Tripuri society. Both husband and wife are allowed to seek divorce on various valid ground. Parents of both side, village head and elderly persons gather in the meeting. Both the parties are given chance to express their grievances and are heard patiently. After hearing the facts, circumstances and opinion of either side, the village head man 'CHOKDIRI' gives the judgment in front of the gathering, it shall be bound on both the parties.
Tripuris have their own traditional dresses. This dress is similar to rest of the North-East Indian people in terms of the type. But it is totally different from rest of the people in terms of the pattern and design. The dress women for the lower half of the body is called 'Rignai' in Tripuri and for the upper half of the body cloth has two parts 'Risa' and 'Rikutu.'
'Risa' covers the chest part and the 'rikutu' covers whole of upper half of the body. In the yester years these garments were used to be woven by the ladies by home spun thread made from the cotton. But now a days the threads are bought from the market and the 'risa' is not worn, instead blouse is worn by most of Tripuri women because of convenient. In present day young girls are wearing rignai with tops also.
Each of the clan of Tripuri has their own 'rignai' pattern and design. The pattern of the 'rignai' are so distinct that the clan of Tripuri woman can be identified by the pattern of the rignai she put on. Now a days there is inter-mingling of the 'rignai' and different clans are wearing 'rignai' of other clans freely and new design are being woven differently. 'Rikutu' is a plain cloths of different colour and shade. Now a days 'rikutu' is woven by the Tripuri ladies.
Different types of designs fashion that are woven in the 'rignai borok' by the Tripuri women are as follows: Anji, Banarosi, Chamtheibar, Jirabi, Khamjang, Khumbar, Kuwaifang, Kuwaichu, Kuwaichu bokobom, Kuwaichu ulta, Kwsakwpra, Kwsapra, Mailbar, Miyong, Muikhunchok, Monaisora, Muisili, Natupalia, Fantokbar, Sada, Salu, Similik yapai, Songkai, Sorbangi, Takhumtei, Temanlia, Thaimaikrang, Thaiplokbar, Tokbakbar, Tokha, Toksa, toiling, Toprengsa khitung, Rignai chamatwi, Rignaibru, Rignaikosong, Rignai mereng, Metereng trang, Rignai khamchwi etc.
It is said that at the time of Subrai Raja, the most famous and legendary King of Tripura, through his 250 wives he had invented two hundred fifty designs of rignai. He married those woman whoever invented a new design. But all these design had lost in time and only few are retained till date. The effort to re-discover the lost designs is in process.
Male counter part used to wear 'rikutu' for the loin and 'kamchwlwi borok' for the upper part of the body. But in the modern age very few people are wearing these dress except in the rural Tripura and working class. The male have adopted the modern dress of international style.
PROHIBITION DURING PREGNANCY
Generally from the fifth month of pregnancy a woman does not co-habit with her husband. Restriction on various food is prevalent. Mrigel fish is to be avoided, any twin fruits, vegetables etc. like banana, mango, cucumber which are attached to each other by default are not to be eaten by pregnant woman. Tripuris consider that eating of such twin fruits will cause twin pregnancy.
The Tripuri customs also prohibit the pregnant ladies from come out of home to yard or open space in the solar eclipse or in the lunar eclipse. The pregnant women are not allowed to watch the eclipsing moon or sun. they are also prohibited to cut out any vegetable like gourd, pumpkin etc, any kinds of fruits etc during the eclipsing period. They are prohibited to eat during the eclipsing period any food, so they are advised to take their food before the eclipse or have it after the eclipse.
A pregnant woman is to refrain from hard work, lifting of heavy objects for the well-being of both baby and mother. On the first day of birth no special rites is performed. 'Kumajwk', i.e., the traditional birth assistant give a nick name to the new born baby according to her choice.
The period of unholiness among the Tripuri is fixed for eight days. On the ninth day they become holy again.
During the period of unholiness the mother is tabooed to do any house hold work. Whole the family is prohibited to join any worship or any religious ceremony during this period.
Diet during the period of ceremony is cooked rice with two type of curry chicken and fish soup and any bitter curry.
Pregnancy is considered to have taken place when menstruation stops in a married woman. A Tripuri woman generally counts the months of her pregnancy from the date when the monthly period stops. It is scientific also as the Obstetrician also count in the similar way. That is the tripuri peoples concept of the pregnancy is medically compatible. Since then all the rituals and the customary prohibition starts.
It is the purification ceremony after the birth of baby, it is held after nine days of delivery. The 'ha karima' and 'sal funukma' are respectively touching of ground and sun seeing by the new born baby. The ochai (priest) performs all the ceremony, a wathop is worshiped at the ceremony. Generally a feast is served to all the villagers and invited guests.'
'Mung farma' a name giving ceremony is a part of abul suhmani. Different names are written and a lamp(dia/deepak) is burnt against each name, the name associated with the lamp that burn last is selected for the child.
Tripuri practice of disposal of dead body is by cremation except newborn or death due to cholera in earlier days. When a death occurs in a Tripuri family the relatives are first informed by the members of the deceased family. The cremation is waited till most of the near and dear one arrives. First the dead body is bathed with hot water and dressed up with new or washed clean cloths. The bier of the dead body is made of bamboo, when the dead body is kept in head directing the North. Mustered oil and Tulsi leaves are given on the eyes of dead body. The relatives who come to pay homage to he dead person gives paddy, cotton, and flower at the feet of dead body. Some person give coin, money according to their capacity on the chest of dead body with their left hand. A cock is killed at the feet of the corpse. The cocked chicken and rice is offered in a newly made bamboo basket for the dead body.
Funeral procession proceeds towards the creamation Ground, generally at the bank of river or stream. The adult sons have the right over any body to lift the dead boy, the son-in-law, relatives nephew, lift the bier upon their shoulders uttering 'Hari hari bol' three times. Woman are also allowed to attend the cremation. A person carries the basket containing paddy, cotton, sesame and used chopper(damra). He sprinkle over on the road ahead of the procession.
Fire wood is arranged one over another, then the dead body is placed on the fire woods and head directing towards North again the fire-wood is placed over the body.
The eldest son reserves the right of touching the fire to the mouth of dead body, it is called 'Hortanlaio'. Eldest son takes a bamboo stick, the top of which is wrapped with a peace of cloth and dipped in oil and lights it. He moves three to seven times arround the dead body taking the fire by his left hand and carries water in the earthen pitcher by his right hand. After complete of a circle he touches the mouth of the deceased with the burning end of the bamboo stick. There after all the person attending the cremation puts the fire on the dead body turn by turn.
The participants go to the deceased's house after taking the bath in near by source of water. When the member of the cremation return home the are sprinkled with secret Ganges water with Tulsi leaf on their head and touch fire.
They are not allowed to eat rice other than soaked grain and rice flakes with sugar till the evening star is observed in the sky. Duration of mourning period is seven days for the male descendent and unmarried daughters and three days for if they are married daughter of the deceased. But by the influence of the Brahmin thirteen day 'shraddha' is being observed in present day by the male descendent and male lineage. The 'maikhlai rimani' ceremony or 'shraddho' is observed on the end of the mourning period by offering of foods and drinks to the departed soul, villagers are also invited in this ceremony to take part and have a feast with the mourning family. This ceremony used to be performed by the Ochai, the priest.
The ash or the piece of bone of fore head is kept in a small newly constructed hut (Osthi nok) for the purpose and worshiped till the first 'Hangrai' the Sankranti, after the death. When the remains is submerged in Dumbur the water fall at Gumti river, in Tripura or in the Ganga river at Sagor deep or any holy place of Hindus according to his affordability.