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Tripura, the land of History and Legends


When the preparation and consumption of alcohol had been started by human being is unknown but it's consumption is mentioned among the oldest books like Veda, Bible etc. Similarly the preparation of consumption of alcohol was known among Tripuri since the prehistoric times. There are many varieties of alcohol prepared by Tripuri people and the women folk are engaged for this. Some of the women are so expert that many consumers would wait for their turn to get chance. Alcohol are used for consumption, for medicinal and for offering to their deities.

There are two main varieties of alcohol prepared by Tripuri women, viz. Chuwak Bwtwk and Chuwarak. Chuwak bwtwk is basically a beer fermented of rice, and the Chuwark is a distilled variety of alcohol. Chuwk bwtwk is classified according to the rice used to prepare; Mami ni bwtwk, Guria ni bwtwk, Khasa ni bwtwk, Maisa ni bwtwk. According to size it is divided as Langi, Gola, Gora etc. The chuwarak is divided according to the concentration alcohol present in it. Like Arak, brandi, Johr etc.

MAMI ni CHUWAK is considered to be most prized among Tripuris. It is used in special occasion and by elite class of society. It is offered to the honoured and special guest, to almighty Lord Garia in old days. It has soothing taste and special aroma, which attracts the people. Any one who has it would like to consume it second time and every time.

The main ingredient in preparation of alcohol is the Chuwan. The taste of alcohol is dependant on this chuwan, apart from the skill and experience hand of concerned brewer. It is like a dry cake made up of many herbal products and rice. Chuwan has to add in proportion in the cooked rice, and then only the chuwk bwtwk would of best quality. There are two kind of chuwan, one is chuwan chwla meaning male chuwan, it is elongated elliptical shaped. Normally a chuwan is a circular sapped and there is a umbilical type dimple in the center of that, but in male chuwan there are three umbilical dimple instead of one.

Making of Chuwan:  

The preparation of chuwan is very tedious job, and it takes almost a day for preparation. One has to be very sincere and attentive in preparing the chuwan. The woman should not have her menstrual cycle at time of preparation of chuwan. She is also barred to prepare in post natal period of one month. There are many taboos that have to be observed.


  1. Chuwan chwla: 1 no.
  2. Jack fruit leaves (tender): 10-15 leaves.
  3. Thakotor leaves: 1 no.
  4. Tokhiseleng Roots: 5 roots.
  5. Tokhiseleng leaves: 50 leaves.
  6. Pineapple leaves (tender): 3 leaves.
  7. Red chilli: 25 gm.
  8. Chuwan bwlai: 30 leaves.


  1. Soak the rice for 4-6 hours.
  2. Tear off and cut the big leaves into small pieces.
  3. Break the chuwan chwla into small pieces.
  4. Clean and wash all leaves.
  5. Take out the bark of roots of Tokhiseleng.


  1. Take out the rice and drain excess water.
  2. Put in a crusher used for rice husking or in a mixer.
  3. Starts crushing or grinding the rice.
  4. Add all leaves turn by burn to the crusher or grinder.
  5. Grind till it is fine powder.
  6. Take it out form mixer, put in a big pan, add water sprinkling on it so that it feels like dough of flour.
  7. Make ball of about 100 gm each and press it by both hands gently so that it becomes flattened to 1 cm thick.
  8. Make like this all of all dough but about 200 gm, make ball of it, make it elongated and press by both hands and tap over it gently to turn it an elongated.
  9. Now put a dimple or depress in center of all the circular chuwan and three dimples on longitudinally.
  10. Now dry all the chuwan in open sun and continue for five to seven days.
  11. Then preserve in a cool dry place in a closed container.

 Mami ni Chuwk: Langi:


  1. Langi (small pitcher): 5 no.
  2. Big cooking pan: one
  3. Banana leaves: 5 big
  4. Cane or plastic rope: 3 meter.
  5. A big cane mat or plastic spreader.


  1. Mami rice (unboiled): 6 kg.
  2. Chuwan: 2pc


  1. Cook the mami rice in a big cooking pan with optimum water.
  2. Powder the chuwan with a crusher or hand made grinder.
  3. Wash, clean and dry in sun all the pitcher or langi.


  1. After cooking the rice take it out, spread on the mat.
  2. Stir it so that the rice cools down evenly, which takes 1-2 hour.
  3. Once cool down, sprinkle one fist full of the chuwan powder over it and mix it thoroughly. Repeat it till all the powder chuwan is mixed.
  4. Now make a hump of the mixed rice, cover it with banana leaves, so that no vapour can escape, cover it with some rug or old clean cloths; and keep it like this over night.
  5. In the morning, evenly spread it again; let it just cool down in 5-10 minutes.
  6. Fill the langi or small pitcher with rice, press a gently over it while filling, fill till the edge of it.
  7. Tear of banana leaves which was used for covering the rice in 1.5 to 1.5 feet size, cover the pitcher with it in two three layers. Tie around the neck of pitcher so that the cover is firmly tied.
  8. Keep it in a dry and worm place, preferably over a BAKA, that is the traditional shelf over oven, for 3 to nights, when it become ready for drinking.

Drinking of Chuwk Bwtwk:

1.      After 3-5 days the chuwk bwtwk langi is ready for consumption.

2.      Bring out of shelf, mop it with a soaked piece of cloths.

3.      Remove the cover of it, press down the rice, inside.

4.      Pour cold drinking water in the langi, till the edge of pot.

5.   Insert washed two Chungi, a bamboo pipe in the pot, and place a measuring    'tengi', some thing like T- shaped, the drinker had to drink upto bottom of measuring level.

6.  Now it is ready for drink, suck through the chungi,(Bambo Straw). The eldest one by age and relation will consume the alcohol first. He/She has to say Khulumkha that is Namaskar folding both hands to all. Then the next Junior will get his/her turn. He has to do Namaskar by touching feet of his seniors and to others just namaskar. This doing of namaskar is done while consuming in the first round only. This courtesy must be maintained by all in the party. When water level goes down to the bottom of the Tenngi, water should be poured up to edge every time a person sucks the alcohol. Wahan Mosdeng, roasted chicken, fired fish are consumed as Chakhinik by Tripuris along with it as food. The next juniors by relation or by age will take their turn one by one, and repeat the same till all the alcohol is finished.


 Chuwarak is a distilled variety of alcohol of Tripuri people. It is like scotch or champagne, if it would have been promoted and innovated like these brands it could have taken the status of Vodka, Feni etc. in the world wide, but because of political and bureaucratic bottle neck it could not be taken to world class standard. The Tripuri alcohol had been on the culture of Tripuri people since time immoral, but till date not a single case of death due to poisoning by consumption had been reported. That is why it is said that the Tripuri whisky is among the safest in the world. There are many varieties of chuwarak viz. made of Mami rice, of Pineapple, of Jackfruits, of Guria rice etc.


  1. Mami rice (un boiled): 3 kg.
  2. Chuwan: 2 pc.
  3. Jaggery(Ghurh): 1 kg.


  1. Cook the mami rice in a big pan with sufficient water.
  2. Make powder of chuwan grinding in hand grinder.
  3. Take out the rice and let it cool down to normal temperature, mix the chuwan. Repeat the preparation of Chuwk bwtwk. It will make two langi of chuwk bwtwk.


  1. After 3-5 days take out the langis, pour the water in it, keep it like this for 1-2 days.
  2. Pour all the content of langi in a big container, add about same quantity of water in it, crush the jaggery make a paste of it, and mix in the same container.
  3. Cover it with a clean cloth, keep it like this for 2-3 days till the full fermentation occurs. It can be known by the hiss sound produced in it.
  4. Now take half of the content in a traditional Indian cooking pot, over it place the special distiller head, fit its parts.
  5. Heat gradually it in a low to medium flame. Note that it should never get boiled, then it would get spoiled whole of the process. Simmer it, in 15-20 minutes the alcohol will distilled and get collected to container.
  6. Let it cool down, it will be ready for consumption, else preserve it in air tight bottle. It can be preserved for months together, or years. Old chuwarak of 2-5 years are useful for medicinal purpose.

Chuwak Bwtwk-Langi


 A Research Paper  By: Achintya Kumar Sinha & Dr. Sourabh Deb


 Tribal communities in Tripura, like elsewhere in northeast India, make their own beer and spirits. There generally is no taboo on consumption of alcoholic beverages by adults in tribal societies. This article describes some aspects of the herbal rice beer ‘Chuwak Bwtk’, briefly Chuwak, of Tripura known for its pleasant non-aggressive aroma and unique taste. Chuwak is popularly known amongst the non-tribal as Langi in the name of the small earthen pitcher wherein it is brewed and served. The write up includes documentation of ingredients used, processing and preparation of the yeast, brewing Langi; associated hygiene protocols as well as the way the brew is served and sipped. Langi is hugely popular amongst the local people both tribal and others; and it has a thriving market with hundreds of tribal women engazed in production and sale of the brew. The ‘illicit’ tag however leads to harassment and humiliation of processer-traders, all women, by the law enforcing personnel; and the civil society may deliberate on this sensitive issue for an out-of-the-box remedy. Appropriate government intervention with research inputs is crucial at this stage to promote Langi as a signature brand of Tripura, like Feni is for Goa.


 2.1 State: Tripura is the second smallest state next to Sikkim in the north eastern region of India; and its geographical area is 10491 km2. The terrain consists predominantly of hill ranges and undulating uplands, the plains being limited to 19.8 percent of the geographical area. About 60 percent of the area of the state (6292.681 sq. km) is government forest. The territory enjoys a typical monsoon climate with annual precipitation between 2250 mm to 2500 mm. The minimum and maximum temperatures during winter range from 40C to 330C; and during summer from 210C to 380C. With a population of 3,673,917 (Density-350 per square km), as per Census 2011, it is the second most populous state in the north-east next to Assam. The percentage of tribal population in Tripura varied from 50.09 to 54.69 percent between 1921 and 1941 Census (Bhatacharya, 1992) as against 31.1 percent as per Census 2011. There are as many as nineteen ethnic groups among the scheduled tribes, each having their distinctive language or dialect and cultural tradition. These are Tripuris, Reangs, Jamatias, Noatias, Chakmas, Halams, Mogs, Kukis, Garos, Lushais, Uchais, Mundas, Orangs, Santals, Khasias, Bhils, Chaimals, Bhutias and Lepchas. The two prominent languages used in Tripura are Bengali and Kokborok. The tribes belonging to the ‘Bodo’ branch of the Tibeto-Burmese family of languages in Tripura speak in Kokborok with certain variations in dialects (Murasingh, 2007); and these include the Tripuri, Reang, Jamatia and Uchai tribes. Kokborok is spoken by around 80 percent of tribal population in Tripura.

The economy is primarily agrarian with agriculture providing 60 percent of employment. Tribal communities depended in the past principally on shifting cultivation, known locally as jhum was a way life influencing their socio-cultural, folk literature and religious life. Jhum continues till date, but at a much lesser scale. A large majority has by now adopted alternative livelihood options like agriculture, horticulture, rubber plantations, animal husbandry etc. The National Forest Commission Report of 2006 cited 43000 households of shifting cultivators on the whole in Tripura covering an area of 22300 ha of forestland. 2007 survey of hardcore shifting cultivators by the state forest department reported 27286 households primarily dependent on jhum. Most of the tribal population also depend on non-timber forest products (NTFP) for edibles such as herbs. Tubers, flowers, mushroom, etc (Sharma, 2009) as well as non-edibles like bamboo, broom grass, cattle fodder, thatch grass, leaves of wild banana, etc from forests for own use as well as for sales with or without value addition. According to a survey in 2008 by NTFP Centre of Excellence at least 303 MT of edible NTFP was harvested for sale and 2250 MT for self consumption during the rainy season was worth INR 280.12 lakh (Sharma, 2009).

 2.2 Herbal rice beer & tribal communities : Consumption of alcoholic drinks by adults is natural for tribal communities in Tripura barring a few exceptions. Use of alcoholic beverages ‘practically seized to exist’ amongst the Lushais following ‘spread of Christianity’ (Chakraborty, 2011).

 Some amongst the Tripuri and Reang tribes who take to Vaishnavism shun alcohol; but they constitute a very small minority. For the tribal communities in Tripura, alcoholic beverages are essential for all of their social and religious events. They brew their own herbal rice beer and also distil the stronger liquor. Langi is also an intermediate product in the process that culminates in the distilled varieties of the liquor, known in Tripuri as Chuwarak. Guests are served with homemade Chuwak, a safe and soothing drink, as a gesture of warm welcome. The Reangs, the second largest population of tribes next to Tripuris in the state, know Chuwak as ‘Cha’ (Gan Choudhuri, 2011), the Kaipengs, know it as Jokla (Bhattacharya, 2002) and the Chakmas as Jogara (Mazumdar, 1997). Lack of official recognition and resultant persecution by law enforcing personnel could not in any way wipe out or even diminish the production and consumption of these traditional beverages. This calls for an out-of-the-box for a remedy.

 2.3 Methodology

 Relevant literature was scanned for an overview of the subject matter of this study. Primary information on herbal rice beer of Tripura was derived through interaction with processer-traders, consumers as well as other individuals and organizations conversant with the subject during field visits. The paper is based on processing, in-depth analysis and interpretation based on inputs from the primary and secondary sources.


 3.1. Ingredients for Chuwan : Chuwan is the catalyst or yeast for brewing the popular herbal rice beer of Tripura known as Chuwak or Langi. It is a dry cake made of numerous plant/herbal products and of raw rice (not parboiled). A few plant ingredients used for preparation of Chuwan differ from community to community, and at times from locality to locality. Vernacular names of these plants have not been standardized with resultant confusion. The following table with some details of plants and plant ingredients required for producing Chuwan was assembled based on field visits, inspection and interaction with the Tripuri community in Khwmnlg, HQ of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) and a knowledgeable TTAADC official of Tripuri tribe.

 Table 3.1

Plant/herbal ingredients for Chuwan making

Sl.No. Name of the species Common name  Requirement per kg of dry rice
1 Erioglossum rubiginosum Chuwanti sikaam (KB)

Bark  & tender leaves from 3 branches       

2 Thunbergia grandiflora             Duk mang khong 5-6 leaves    
3 Oroxylum indicum

Tokharung(KB)/ Kanai Dinga(B)

3-4 leaves. Excess quantity will spoil   the brew
4 Markhamia stipulata Chuanchela (KB) 5 leaves for improving taste
5 Allophylus racemosus Chinrama (KB) 10-15 leaflets  & bark from, 2-3 branches
6 Engelhardia  spicata Tokhiseleng (KB)

10-11 leaflets and 1 surface root

7 Artocarpus heterophyllus Jackfruit tree           10 tender leaves
8 Saccharum officinarum Sugarcane 3 tender leaves
9 Ananas comosus


3-4 tender leaves
10 Capsicum annuum             Red chilly      3
11 Citrus reticulata Orange        The exocarp of one fruit
12 Holarrhena antidysenterica           Kurcha (B) 150-200 grams of bark

PS: ‘KB’ for Kokborok and ‘B’ for Bengali ‘in the table above


3.2 Variation in choice of ingredients for Chuwan, an example: A thriving processer-trader of Chuwan from Anandanagar village of Mohanbhog Block in Sepahijala District of Tripura disapproves use of Tokharung, exocarp of orange and leaves of Jackfruit (Table 3.1). Exocarp of orange would, according to her, retard the brewing process for Langi. She also showed a twig of a climber Bwtk Blwi (Tricosanthes spp.), two leaves of which would be added per kg of rice as an ingredient for making Chuwan; and this species is not listed in Table 3.1. She reported further about a tree species known as Kalfu in Kokborok, the sweet and aromatic bark of which she had used in the past as one of the ingredients for preparing Chuwan for enhancing the flavour and taste of Langi. She informed further that the species was no longer available in her neighbourhood as natural forests had been replaced by plantations of commercial timber yielding species and rubber. Based on her description of the species, one specimen of Kalfu tree was located in nearby Jibandeep Joint Forest Management (Angshidari Banayan Prakalpa) project in Melaghar and that was identified as Cinnamomum obtusifoliaum. The authors requested the Centre for Forest-based Livelihoods & Extension (CFLE) for conservation and propagation of the tree species.

3.3 Collection of Plant Ingredients for Chuwan : Jackfruit, sugarcane, red chili and excocarp of orange in the list (Table 3.1) of ingredients are easily available from homestead gardens or nearby markets. The others in the list are gathered generally from natural forests. Due to large-scale conversion of natural areas into artificial plantations using a few commercially important species since mid-1970s coupled with extensive deforestation and degradation of forests, the stock of these naturally occurring species is generally on the decline. Chuwak processors have to devote considerably more time now in search of these plant ingredients, thus affecting profitability adversely. Some plant ingredients, leaf of Allophylus racemosus for example, can be used even when dry and processers prefer to collect and stock such plant products from forests and natural areas in advance after drying.

Eriglosum rubiginiosum

Thunbergia grandiflora

Allophyllus racemosus Engelherdia spicata

 3.4 Chuwan making

 a)      Hygiene: Several social taboos are associated with preparation of Chuwan and of course for brewing of Langi as well as distillation of Chwarak, which interestingly are the exclusive preserve of women. ‘It is believed that if a man brews, the liquor would lose its proper taste.’ (Gan Choudhury, 2011). They take a thorough cleansing bath and put on freshly washed and properly dried clothes before taking up the task of Chuwan making. Women in their menstrual cycle and during the first month of their natal period do not participate in preparation of Chuwan. All containers, grinders and other utensils are cleaned and dried thoroughly prior to use. The room where Chuwan is to be prepared is cleaned and aired before starting the process; and the same protocol is followed religiously for brewing Langi as well as in the process for distillation of Chuwarak. Impact of this a healthy tradition for ensuring hygiene is evident from the fact that there is no report of death or adverse effect on health resulting from consumption of Langi or even Chuwarak, and this is no small achievement.

 b)      Processing: Raw rice (not parboiled) is soaked in water for 4 to 6 hours. Meanwhile plant ingredients like, leaves, barks, roots, etc. are washed, dried and finely chopped. It is added in proportion to the quantity of rice used, but it is not too rigid and may differ from processer to processer based on their experience and local preferences. Excess water from soaked rice is drained. The next step is to start grinding the soaked rice in a grinder and to add all the chopped plant/herbal ingredients for further grinding and mixing with the ground rice. The mixture, after it is reduced to a fine powder, is transferred to a large pan. Water is sprinkled on the mixture and it is made into a pulp or dough by hand. Balls of around 100 grams (dry weight) are then rolled out from and pressed gently between palms, thus flattening the cakes to 1 cm thickness.

Often a few flattened cakes of around 200 grams are rolled out and flattened into elongated oval shapes. These are known as Chuwan chwla meaning male Chuwan. The flattened cakes are then kept on clean and dry paddy straws spread on a round bamboo mat for slow removal of the excess moisture. The cakes are kept for 3 days under shade and transferred thereafter to the open sun for 2-3 days for further drying. Chuwan is then ready for use; and it is stored in a cool and dry place in a closed container.This can be preserved thus for about a year  (www.tripura.org.in/brews.htm).

 3. 5 Use and market of Chuwan : Chuwan is an important market commodity that sells round the year. Apart from the principal use as yeast for brewing Langi, most tribal households and many non-tribal rural families keep a stock of Chuwan for cure and relief from bone fracture; sprain, joint pain, etc. It is made into a paste by mixing with water for such use. Chuwan comes in different categories on the basis of the variety of rice and the number and proportion of plant/herbal materials used and also on the actual process of its making. Chuwan, sold in the market for medicinal purpose, is usually of an inferior grade as only essential plant ingredients are used for making those; whereas several other additives go in to making the Chuwan for brewing Langi for enhanced flavour and taste. The 1st & 2nd category are used for brewing Langi for rituals and occasions like marriage, whereas the third category is generally sold in the market at the rate of INR 5 per cake for medicinal use. The 1st and 2nd categories sell for double the rate or more.


 4.1 Implements required for brewing Langi from 6 kg of rice:

 i.        Small earthen pitchers made specifically for Chuwak Bwtk known as Langi: 5

 ii.       Large cooking pan: 1

 iii.      Large banana leaves: 5

 iv.      Bamboo or cane slivers or rope for tying:  3 meters

 v.       A large mat made of bamboo or cane slivers or a plastic mat

 vi.      A clean rug or a sheaf of clean/washed clothes  (www.tripura.org.in/brews.htm)

 4.2  Brewing Chuwak: To prepare Chuwak or Langi, rice is boiled with just enough water needed to cook the rice but not to make it too soft. The rice used must be raw and not parboiled. Mami, a jhum variety of rice with a sweet fragrance is used for the best brew. Chuwak brewed from this special variety of rice is the most prized Mami ni Chuwak used only for special occasions like for offering to the Lord Garia and for elites.  (www.tripura.org.in/brews.htm). This exclusive variety of jhum rice is either too rare now or extinct. For brewing the next best product, jhum rice of the Guria variety with a sweet fragrance is used. Chuwak is classified principally according to the variety of rice used for its preparation, e.g. Mami ni Btwk, Guria ni Btwk, Khasa ni Btwk, Maisa ni Btwk (www.tripura.org.in/brews.htm).

 The cooked rice is spread on a mat and is stirred gently till that cools down uniformly to the ambient temperature. Two Chuwan cakes are powdered and one fist full of the powder is sprinkled over the cooked rice and mixed thoroughly; and this process is repeated till all the Chuwan powder is used up. The rice and Chuwan mix is thereafter made into a hump, and is covered entirely by freshly cut and washed banana leaves. The hump of rice covered with banana leaves is covered additionally with a clean rug or a sheaf of clean clothes and left as such overnight. The covers are removed next morning, and the mix is spread out for cooling for 5 to 10 minutes. The mixture is then filled into 5 earthen pitchers slowly one by one, pressing down the mix gently into the pitchers till the mixture reaches the neck of the pitchers. It is important to note that the earthen pitchers must be thoroughly cleaned and dried by keeping those over a fuel wood chulha for 3 to 4 days prior to use. The pitchers are sealed thereafter by banana leaves tied firmly around the neck of the pitchers with bamboo or cane slivers or ropes. The pitchers are kept in a dry and warm place on a traditional shelf, known by Tripuris as ‘Baka’, set over a wood fuel chulha in the kitchen. Thus kept the mixture matures in 3 days during summer and 5 days in winter into langi, ready for the sip.


 5.1 Drinking protocol : On maturity as discussed above, the pitcher with Langi is brought out from the shelf and mopped with a piece of wet cloth. The top cover is removed and the brewed rice mix is pressed gently down the bottom. Potable water at room temperature is poured slowly thereafter into the pitcher till the level rises to its neck. Two cleaned slim bamboo pipes, known by Tripuris as Chungi, are then inserted into the pitcher. The end of the pipe that goes into the pitcher is tapered and a circle of fine holes are drilled above that. The level down to which Langi is sipped is set by a devise in the shape of a ‘T’, known as tengi. Langi is now ready for drink. The brew is offered first of all to the eldest person by age, relation or social status in the assemblage. Langi is sucked through Chungi slowly and leisurely bit by bit down to the level set by the tengi. Water is poured again up to the edge of the neck of the pitcher and the process continues with the person next in hierarchy one by one till the alcohol content in the brew become insignificant.

Chuwak in typical earthen pitcher Chuwan,Yeast for  brewing Chuwak

(Adapted from:  www.tripura.org.in/brews.htm).

5.2 Lifestyle & social relevance: Langi with its low alcohol content of 5 to 7.5 per cent (source: email dated 23rd June, 2013 from Tripura Organisation, Tripura Kshatriya Samaj) is sipped leisurely after a day’s hard work for relaxation both by tribal men and women in Tripura. It is brewed in large quantities for all important social and religious events; and for such events in any household the guest families contribute one pitcher of Langi each to the host signifying community participation. It is difficult to imagine tribal life without Langi; and it provides them stimulation for work. Langi is also accepted as the medium for ‘Nanki Fem’ meaning ‘friendship’ that binds communities in pact for Peace (Bhattacharya, 2002). It is customary for tribal households to honour their distinguished guests with Langi.

 5.3 Market: Langi has a ready market both amongst tribal and non-tribal population in Tripura. Hundreds of women in tribal villages, therefore, brew Langi for sale as a means of livelihood. The usual price for the product in a single pitcher is INR 100. The details of cost of production and benefit are shown below:


A.      Cost   

1.      Cost of rice 6 kg @ INR 20:                                               INR 120

2.      Cost of purchase and collection of plant ingredients:     INR 30

3.      Labour charge for 3 hours @ INR 22:                              INR 66

4.      Chuwan cakes 2 numbers @ INR 10:                             INR 20

                                                                               Total cost:    INR 236

B.   Sale proceeds from 4 pitchers of Chuwak @ INR 100:    INR 400

C.      Benefit to Cost ratio:            1.69: 1


 6.1  Potential of Langi as a signature brand of Tripura: Langi is hugely popular as a soothing drink with a pleasant non-aggressive aroma. That it is a safe drink is evident from the fact that there has not been a single report or record of death or adverse effect on health resulting from its consumption. But the ‘illicit’ tag leads to harassment and humiliation of the processors, all women, by the law enforcing personnel; and the civil society may deliberate on this sensitive issue on priority for an out-of-the-box remedy. Appropriate government intervention with research inputs is crucial at this stage for promoting Chuwak Bwtk or Langi as a signature brand of Tripura, like Feni is for Goa.

 6.2  Documentation & conservation of plants used for making Chuwan: Scarcity of several forest plants needed for making Chuwan, the indispensable catalyst for brewing Langi, is a major concern of the day. Plant materials used for Chuwan making mostly have medicinal value. Many are known only by their vernacular names, which vary often from tribe to tribe and often within a tribe in different localities. There is need for documentation of these plants and their habitats may develop a strategy for their regeneration and conservation for ensuring sustainable harvest; and the Forest Department may initiate a project accordingly involving local communities, as the livelihood of thousands of tribal women depend on this trade. Such an initiative is even otherwise equally important for sustaining this cherished heritage associated with knowledge, skill and community wisdom passed down from generation to generation of tribal communities.


The authors take pleasure in acknowledging the generous help and support from Sri Sushil Debbarma, IFS, the Principal Officer, Forest, Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) and his Deputy, Sri Chittaranjan Debbarma. They organized effective interaction for us with a local processer of Langi and a field survey to locate some of the wild plants used for making Chuwan. Sri Sushil Debbarma himself had also helped us in proper appreciation of the processes involved in Chuwan making and brewing Langi. We acknowledge the valuable inputs from Sri Rajani Debbarma of Khwmnlg for sharing his knowledge in the field on plant materials used for making Chuwan. We are particularly grateful to ‘Tripura Organisation, Trpura Kshatrya Samaj’ for their kind permission to access their website:  http://www.tripura.org.in/brews.htm and for direct inputs from their management on percentage of alcohol in Langi by an e-mail on 23rd June, 2013.

 We acknowledge the help of Sri Ramchandra Noatia, a social worker of Mohabhog for facilitating access and interaction with Smti Malati Debbarma, a thriving processer-trader of Chuwan in Anandanagar village of Mohanbhog Block. We are indebted to Smti Malati Debbarma for sharing her first-hand knowledge on many aspects of Chuwan. We acknowledge the support from Sri Dipankar Deb, a scholar in the Department of Forestry and Biodiversity, Tripura University and Sri Atanu Saha, Deputy Conservator of Forests in the Center for Forest based Livelihoods and Extension (CFLE), Agartala under the Rain Forest Research Institute, Jorhat for their support in providing the scientific names of plants used for making Chuwan.

 The authors are immensely grateful to Prof. B. K. Tiwari, Coordinator of the Regional Centre, National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board, Government of India, NEHU, Shillong for his generous support, advice and guidance in respect of this study.

Period of field study: 2013

 Key words: Chuwak Bwtk, Feni, Langi, Herbal rice beer, Tripura


 Achintya Kumar Sinha, Former Chief Conservator of Forests, Agartala. Contact:  achintyaksinha@gmail.com

Dr. Sourabh Deb, Assistant Professor, Department of Forestry and Biodiversity, Tripura University, Agartala


Bhattacharya, S. (1992). From Jhuming to Tapping. Directorate of Research, Government of Tripura, Agartala, Tripura, India. pp-7.

Chakraborty, M., Dasgupta, M., Sircar, B. (2011). A study on the Lushais of Jampui Hills in Tripura (2nd Ed), The Tribal Research and Cultural Institute, Government of Tripura, p-68-69.

Gan Chaudhuri, J. (2011). The Reangs of Tripura (2nd Ed), The Tribal Research & Cultural Institute, Government of Tripura, p-38.

Mazumdar, P. (1997). The Chakmas of Tripura, Tripura State Tribal Cultural Research Institute and Museum, Government of Tripura, Agartala, p-61.

Murasingh, C. (Ed) (2007). Tales and Tunes of Tripura Hills, Sahitya Academy, Rabindra Bhavan, 35 Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi 110 001, p- iii.

Sharma, D.K. (Ed) (2009). Non-Timber Forest Products of Tripura (Volume–I), NTFP Centre of Excellence, Tripura JICA Project, Forest Department, Tripura, India, p-32, 59.

 www.tripura.org.in/brews.htm. (Tripura Organisation, Tripura Kshatriya Samaj, Agartala, Tripura).

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