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Tripura, the land of History and Legends


When a married woman conceives for the first time, then in sonic cases, for the welfare of the pregnant woman, 'Kebeng-buo' and 'Fara-tano' are worshipped in the fifth or seventh month of pregnancy.

Determination of Pregnancy:
When menstruation stops a woman becomes pregnant. Moreover, when the outer surface of the belly gradually changes, the woman becomes certain of her pregnancy.

Counting of months:
A Tripuri woman generally counts the months of her pregnancy from the date when the monthly course stops. They consider 10 lunar months completed as full term pregnancy, which is medically calculated 280 days of full term pregnancy.

Prohibition during pregnancy:
Generally from the fifth month of pregnancy a woman does not cohabit with her husband. It is believed that copulation in the advanced stage of pregnancy is dangerous for the mother and the baby in the womb.

Restriction on food:
No specific restriction on food is imposed during the period of pregnancy. Many expectant mothers do not eat Mrigal fish during their pregnancy. It is believed that if they take Mrigal fish during pregnancy then the baby in the womb, after its birth, will suffer from epilepsy. Many urban Tripuri women observe this taboo even to the present days.

Restriction of work:
A pregnant woman refrains from lifting load and doing other hard work at the advanced stage of pregnancy. This prohibition is imposed for the welfare of the mother and the baby in her womb.

Protection during pregnancy:
A few Tripuris, like many other tribals, believe in the necessity of keeping an amulet in the body. This amulet is prepared with roots, barks, leaves etc. of particular plant along with other things. This amulet is given by the Ochai (village priest) after a performance of magical rites. This amulet is given to protect the expectant mother and the unborn baby from the evil spirits, or evil eyes, and to obtain security against any mischievous deeds done by the enemy.

Determination of the sex of the unborn baby:
Actually there is no practical device to determine the sex of the unborn baby. Sometimes, the Ochai or an experienced person determines the sex of the unborn baby by assumption. This assumption is always not accurate.

Difficult labour:
At the time of a difficult labour a little water with a performance of magical rites by the Ochai is given to the pregnant woman for normal delivery. Sometimes, mustard oil sanctified with mantras is also given to the pregnant woman for rubbing it on the belly for a normal delivery. It is also learnt that during difficult labour the husband rubs his leg three times on the belly of his wife by stopping his breath. Sometimes a 'Risa' (breast fastener) is tied to the upper belly of the pregnant woman just to check the upward movement of the baby. If performance of all these rites or customs fail to make the delivery of the child safe and proper then they worship, the malevolent deity (Thumnairag), the deity of death news messenger. This worship is performed by the Ochai, In this worship sacrifice of a goat or she goat is essentially required.

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Observance during Delivery:
When labour pain begins the woman is allowed to lie in a separate room—or in a portion of the main room. If it is possible they build a temporary hut or lying room. For parturition they engage midwife and other elderly women of the family and the neighbourhood. The lady who plays the main role to make a delivery successful is called 'Lumajuk'. And the lady who cuts the umbilical cord is 'Kumajuk'. Generally during delivery only females are allowed to stay inside the lying room. The males are permitted to enter only when any great difficulty arises.

Position of the expectant mother during delivery:
When the labour pain begins the woman sits by spreading her legs. She stakes her legs on a piece of bamboo three to four cubits in length Yakhatam for support and holds a hanging rope (Risinduk) by both hands. Both the articles 'Jyakhatam' and 'Risinduk' are needed during cloth weaving. As soon as the child is delivered the Kumajuk cuts the umbilical cord by a sharp edged little piece of bamboo slide (Wamtha) and tie the umbilical cord with a thread in three knots. The placenta and umbilical cord is cast away by the 'Kumajuk'. The kumajuk is accompanied by the father of the new born baby or in his absence, another person. They have a belief that the far the placenta and the umbilical cord are scattered the farther will be the next issue. Instead of throwing the placenta and umbilical cord they scatter it properly on the basis of belief that if they throw it away the child will be scared of wind, cyclone etc. in his life time.

Cleaning of mother and new born baby:
After delivery the new born baby and the mother are cleaned with repid water and are wiped with dry cloth by the midwife or by attendant elderly women.

Rites on the day of birth:
On the first day of birth no special rite is performed. Only the 'Lumajuk' and 'Kumajuk' give a nick name to the new born baby according to the name of the day of birth, Besides, wine and food are offered to the 'Lumajuk' and Kumajuk'. The practice of name giving on lie first day by Lumajuk and Kumajuk is totally uncommon among the urban Tripuris. In the interior area on the fifth or seventh day after the birth of a baby the fallen umbilical cord along with ash of the oven used in the lying room is burned under the earth in the north or west side of the house. By the side of it a place is cleaned to keep some mustard, raw turmeric etc. They call it 'Thapla khibio'.

Period of unholiness:
The period of unholiness among the Tripuris is fixed for eight days on the ninth day, they become holy again. But among the Tripuri in urban areas the period of unholiness fixed for the relatives of the new born baby is a period of twelve days except the mother and her new born baby. In the case of male child the mother and her son will remain in unholiness upto twenty days. In the case of female issue the period tended upto twenty nine days.

In remote places the observation of 'Suryadarsan' takes place on the ninth day from the day of birth irrespective of sex. In urban areas (lie foregoing observation has to be done on twenty first day from the day of birth in the case of male issue. Whereas the same observation take place in the case of female issue on the thirtieth day from the day of birth.

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Prohibitions and Taboos during the period of unholiness:
During the period of unholiness the mother is tabooed to do any household work. The whole family is prohibited to join any socio-religious ceremonies, Even at house they are not permitted to observe any worship or any religious festivities. The community worship or village worship i strictly prohibited during such unholiness in any family in the village doe to birth of a child.

The mother and her new born baby are massaged with tepid mustered oil by the midwife or by any elderly woman. If any ulcer is found inside the mouth of a new born child a little sanctified honey is fed. For any trouble of the child at time a little water sanctified by the Ochai with mantras is given to the baby.

On the day of delivery of the child the mother is offered to eat cooked rice with two types of curry i.e. chicken or fish and a bitter curry. This practice is absolutely found absent among the Tripuris who have become urbanised. In urban areas they are not allowed to eat cooked rice. meat, fish etc. at least for three days. Instead they are offered milk bread, grain etc.

When the period of unholiness is over the barber shaves the beard and cuts the nails of the relatives of the family. He shaves the hair of the new horn baby or sometimes touches the hair with the  razor. There after child and the mother are given a bath. During the bath the mother washes her head with a combination of dust, mustard seeds, undried turmeric, gila (bean) and water of ashes etc. On this day after the worship of 'Wathop' deity, the drinking water offered to the aforesaid deity in a bamboo pipe is also sprinkled on the mother, the child, and the 'Kumajuk' for purification. The holy water is also sprayed in and outside the dwelling house for purification of the residential quarters.

On the ninth day, the Tripuris in the rural area observe the 'Surya Darsan' and 'Rice feeding' ceremony collectively. On that very day first of all they worship the deity 'Wathop'. In this worship four roosters, undried rice, tulsi leaf, banana leaf and two eggs are required. The water which is offered to the deity 'Wathop' in a bamboo pipe is sprinkled by the Ochai over the houses of that family. After the worship of the 'Wathop' they observe another puja at the bathing place in the name of the river deity. In this puja undried rice, tulsi leaf, and banana leaf are required. If possible, the blood of a he-goat is required to be poured on the undried rice and the head of the sacrificed he-goat is offered to the deity.

Thereafter another puja is performed on the piece of a tree (Khamplai) where the clothes are washed. On that piece of the tree a banana leaf is placed. The Ochai keeps some undried rice on the leaf and gives the white portion of an egg by breaking it with enchanting spells. Afterwards an egg is offered in the name of the sun and the moon. In all the foregoing worships a little fermented rice (by which liquor is prepared) along with water is offered to the deities in a bamboo pipe. And a bottle of liquor is offered to the deities. The Ochai returns to the house and keeps two pots of rice beer (chandari) by enchanting spells. Afterwards, two pots filled with wine is presented to the priest. The priest (Ochai) drinks it. In the second time two pots of drink are offered by the father of the child to the Ochai with salutation and he enquires of the Ochai about the future of the child and the puja that has to be performed. If anything is found wrong with the puja or any defect of the child which may appear in the distant future the Ochai advises courses to be adopted. Now the (Ochai) drinks half of the offered wine and distributes the rest among the participants who are younger in age than he. In the third case, the drink is to be had by the 'Sardar' or 'Choudhuri' (Village headman). In this occasion if the Choudhury happens to be younger than others that would not matter. After him other participants will drink serially according to age. After wine, begins the drinking of rice beer (Langi). In this occasion also the senior most person will take first, then the others who attend the occasion.

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By then, a woman brings the new born baby from the house to the courtyard covering it with a piece of new cloth. Another woman holds an umbrella over the new born baby. On this occasion both the women wear new clothes. The woman who holds umbrella utter 'Ulu' sound. Now the new horn baby is to salute the 'Wathop' deity i.e. he is shown to the deity and afterwards some earth is to be dug with a chopper by the hand of the new born baby. In this occasion the chopper is just touched by the hand of the baby. The woman who carries the baby comes to the door of the house with the baby. The mother of the child then washes the feet of that woman who carries the child and lets her sit on a mat with the child. The Ochai takes some earth, paddy, durba, cotton etc. and throws them in the western side after revolving them three times around the head of the child. In the second time the Ochai observes the same thing in similar way. In the third time he takes an egg, sonic earth, paddy, durba, cotton etc. and do the same. In the last and fourth time the Ochai, taking paddy, burba, earth, and a little water from a vessel gives them to the head of the child as a sort of blessings. The Ochai afterwards warms up his hand in the flame of the lighted lamp and touches the face of the child with that hand. Belief goes that the future of the child will be as bright as the flame of the light. The Ochai files a stone with a chopper over the head of the child and blesses the minor to live as long as the stone.

Name giving ceremony:
When the blessings by the Ochai is over, the name giving ceremony takes place. The persons who are interested to give name to the new born child, individually light a lamp in the name of their personal choice. The name associated with the lamp that burns to the last is selected for the child. The rites of this name giving ceremonies are also observed in remote places even in the present days. In the early days the name of a new born baby used to be given according to the guardians' choice. This name giving ceremony is observed on the ninth day i. e. on the day of 'Surya Darsan'.

But this name giving custom is no longer in vogue among the urban Tripuris. The rites which is observed by the urban Tripuris is quite different. Here, on the sixth day from the day of the birth they observe the name giving rituals. In the evening a seat is arranged in the name of the god 'Chitragupta'. In front of that seat a vessel is kept along with mango leaves. An ink pot filled with milk is placed there and a pen made of reed is kept by its side. A white khata is also placed. Now the names are written on banyan leaf. Only name is to be written on a single leaf. 'lhe names which are given must consist of odd numbers of letter i.e. live, seven or nine letters. On that occasion the child wears new cloth. In- sense, oil lamp, with as many wicks as the names are proposed, are kept then'. The lamp burns with ghee or mustard oil.

The names which are written in the banyan leaves arc placed tinder the burning lamp in a cyclic way. The wicks of the lighted lamps and the tips of the leaves are placed in such a way that the tip of a leaf and a wick of the lamp coincide. Thereafter the lamp is to be lighted. An offering is offered for the sake of the god 'Chitrangupta'. A banyan leaf written with Sanskrit sloka is given in the offering by a Brahmin belonging to the Acharya community. The wicks arc to be burnt through out the night. Among the lighted wicks the one which flames very bright, shows that, its corollary name is selected. Another name is taken from the wick which horns to the last. The brightest and the longest are chosen.

Rice feeding ceremony:
Though the child is completely incapable of eating rice on the ninth day yet the rural Tripuris observe the rice feeding ceremony on that very day. On that very day five types of curry are prepared. The curries are of fish, dry fish, chicken, a sort of arum and a boiled egg. Rice with those curries is offered to the child three times. In each time of offering they utter 'Mai Chakrak'. As a matter of fact when the child is able to cat rice they do not observe any special rice feeding ceremony. They call the rice feeding ceremony in their dialect as 'Abul Suo'.

The urban Tripuris actually observe the rice feeding ceremony in the sixth or eighth month in the case of male child. It is observed in the seventh or ninth month in the case of a female child. Among the rural Tripuris, after the rice feeding ceremony another rite is performed. In the case of female child, the child is to touch weaving instruments, spud etc. In the case of a male child, the child is to touch chopper, musical instruments etc. Now-a-days instead of these articles they give book, pen, khata, etc. to touch. Thereafter, a little mustard oil is rubbed on the child and the mother. After then, other assembled members rub the mustard oil.

Khumchakkara (Jangali Puja):
A special puja is held for the welfare of the child after nine days from the day of birth according to their suitable time and scope. This puja is mainly observed by the Tripuris of the Sadar North. Four number of chickens are sacrificed in this puja. The blood of three sacrificed chickens is poured on the undried rice offered in front of the 'Jangali' deity. The blood of the other sacrificed chicken is poured on the undried rice kept for the 'Burasa' matai (deity).

Now, a curry is prepared with water filtered from ash in a bamboo pipe. Rice is cooked in another bamboo pipe. A special curry is prepared with a combination of 'Kauo' leaf (a kind of tree leaf), twig of 6 matha' leaf tree, leaf of Lobhiya (sabai in Kok Borok) and prawn etc. within a bamboo pipe. These three bamboo pipes with cooked rice and curries are kept along with the three sacrificed chickens.

Afterwards, the Ochai without looking back takes a bamboo pipe filled with cooked articles. He touches it first and then breaks it open to keep it with the rice besmeared with the blood of the sacrificed chickens where the three sacrificed chickens are lying. The same manner is followed for all the rest of the bamboo pipes filled up with different cooked articles. Through this aforesaid way the Ochai understands the future nature and character of the child.

Further more, two vessels of rice beer and wine are given with the offering of the worship. Before offering the wine and rice beer to the deities they tie a piece of cloth on the tip of the bamboo splits planted in four corners. On that cloth a thread ball and a gilla (a kind of wild seed) are kept and the Ochai chants a spell by stirring them. The Ochai, after completing the worship, conies back to the house of the child's father and pours water on the rice beer vessel. After pouring water on the rice beer vessel the Ochai examines the perfection of the worship. Then a feast or drink is arranged for the assembled persons.

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