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Tripuri, the Native People of Tripura state

 Origin of Tripuri 

  Population History of Tripura

Tripur Tripura Jamatia Reang
Malsom Murasing Rupinis Halams




  "The people of Tripura are said to belong to the same origin as the Katcharis; the similarities in their religion, customs and appearance make this probable. It may be added that the Rajas of both countries, Tipperah and Katchar, have formally acknowledged the connection."
Quoting Major Fisher from his Memoirs of Sylhet, Dalton observes: "The physiognomy of some of the Tripuris is like that of the Manipuris. But the greater part bears more resemblance to the Khasias (now called Khasis), having strongly marked Mongolian features with flat faces. and thick lips. They are not shorter in stature than Bengalis and far more muscular and strongly made. Many of them have fair complexion slightly darker than a swarthy European."

The original tribes of Tripura are Tripuri, who used to be known as "PANCHA TRIPURA" that is five Tripuris during Manikya Monarchy, till its merger with Indian Union. The  five branches are Tripuri/Tripur, Tripura, Jamatia, Reang, Halam. Within these five main branches of Tripuris there are smaller sub-branches like-Murasing, Uchui, Rupini, and Kolois etc. These branches have their many branches, that are having their little characteristics. Although before Independence they formed the majority, the ratio of Tripuris population to the total population has declined since the 'fifties. In 1951, the percentage of Tripuis population was 37; in 1961, 1971 and in 1981 it declined to 31.5, 28.9 and, 28.4 respectively. In absolute figures, however the Tripuri population of the state increased from about 257,000 in 1941 to 583,920 in 1981. The principal reason for the relative decline in the Tripuis population of the state is that the socio-economic conditions and geographical contiguity attracted people in the territory from East Bengal which almost encircles it. During pre-partition days, thousands of Bengalis were in fact the inhabitants of Chakla Roshanabad, the biggest zamindari estate of the Maharajas. With partition of the country, that area went to the then East Pakistan, and a large number of Hindus migrated to the state.  Besides, the royal family wanted to maintain a close contact with Bengal for fostering education, trade and commerce in the State. This apart, administrative personnel of various sorts were also recruited from Bengal. Lastly, the partition of the country forced several hundred thousands of Hindu Bengali people from the erstwhile East Pakistan's neighbouring districts to come and settle in Tripura. The influx of a vast number of refugees from what is now Bangladesh, unlike the north-western part of the country, has not been a one-time affair in the eastern part of the country. The influx remained a continuous current with ebbs and flows, but never completely stopped. However, as a result of a very close contact between the Bengalis and the different Tripuris of Tripura, the refugees could be absorbed in the main body of society. The Tripuris population in the urban area or in its vicinity is mostly bilingual.

It cannot be denied that the economy of the state had lo undergo sufficient stress and strain as a result of an unprecedented rise in population in the state during the 'fifties and 'sixties. The density of population is now 262 per sq. km. the second highest among the north-eastern les after Assam. The density of population in Manipur is 82.78 per sq.km. in Meghalaya, 73 in Nagaland and only 33 in Mizoram. In Tripura the large concentration of the plain people from the contiguous districts has not been an unmitigated evil.

For example, agricultural production has increased significantly, road communication developed substantially and education extended to the remotest villages. One may trace the diverse ethnic elements among the people of Tripura. There are two racial elements namely Indo-mongoloid, the indigenous and the Indo-Aryan language speakers, a largely migrant group from erstwhile East Pakistan. Among the Indo-mongoloid are the original inhabitant and the royal race Tripuris which includes Old Tripuri, New Tripuri, Jamatia, Reang, and Halams and the other indigenous Indo-mongoloid groups are Moh, Kukis and Chakma. They all had been granted as 'Scheduled Tribe' under the constitution of India. The other major racial elements, namely, the Indo-Aryans language speakers represented by majority the Hindu Bengalis, minority Muslim Bengali.

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The Tripur clan (also called as Tripuri or Tipra), who uses surname of Debbarma/Devbarman, are among the original inhabitants of the state, constitute about a little over 16 per cent of the total and 57 per cent of the Tripuris population of the state. The former rulers of the land emerged from this community which is believed to be the descendants of the Chandra Vamsha (Lunar Dynasty) Kshatriyas. In course of time, a section of this community came into close contact with the Bengali settlers, and was much influenced by their language, culture and custom. Marital, contacts followed and the result was the emergence of a new community now known as Natun (new) Tripuris, a sort of breakaway group of the original (puran) Tripuris. In fact, there has been an all-round metamorphosis in the socio-economic condition of Tripura. This is not to minimise the problems that confront the state. One may trace a diverse ethnic element among the people of Tripura and the Indo-Mongoloids, the original inhabitant of the state are represented by communities like the Tripur, the Reangs, the Jamatis, the Tripura clans, the Halams, the Chakma, the Mogh the Kukis and the Lushai.

According to 1971 Census out of 19 Tribal communities in Tripura, the total Tripur clans population is 2,50382. Within the entire tribal population of Tripura the percentage of the Tripur clans population stands as 55.57 %. The pocket areas 0f the Tripur clans population are in Kamalpur sub-division (under North Tripura District), Khowai and Sadar Sub-division (under West Tripura District). Besides these areas they are found to live scatteredly in small groups in other places also. The Deshi Tripur clans and the Tripura clan community are not accounted here as they have separate identity. The common surname of the Puratan Tripura, Tripur clans or Tipperah is Deb Barman or Deb Barma. The 'Thakur' and Karta sub-group are within the Puratan Tripura community. They belong to the royal family of Tripura. The Puratan Tripuras were sub-divided generally into different groups according to their assignment in the royal court. The sub-divisions are as :-

(1) Bachal, (2) Siuk, (3) Kuatia, (4) Daityasingh, (5) Hujuria, (6) Siltia, (7) Apaia, (8) Chatratuia or chatradharia, (9) Deurai, (10) Subenarayan, (11) Sena, (12) Julai. Their duties in the royal court were as follows :-
Bachal :-The Bachal group of the Tripur clans Community bad to discharge the following works in the royal court.
(a) In the royal court or at the time of expedition of the king, they held the betel leaf and panja.
(b) They made the structure for the images of the gods and goddesses with bamboo and worship-dias at the time of worship in the royal palace. They also carried the water which was to be required for the worship.
c) At the time of marriage of some member of the royal family they performed the task of planting the bamboo along with branches and leaves on all sides of the marriage pulpit.
d) 'The very next day of 'Bijoya Dasami' a feast named 'Hasam' was arranged by the king. Far this occasion it was their duty to make a lamp-stand with bamboo.
2. Siuk :-Siuk' means hunter. For royal purpose, their duty was to hunt animals and birds. During the title giving ceremony in the royal court their duty was to hold the pot of sandal wood paste. When a marriage took place in the royal family the Siuks shouldered the collection of married women for performing the auspicious deeds. Besides they carried the water for the brides party.
3. Kuatia :-In Tripuri language,  Kuai means betel nut, Kuatia meant who carried betel leaf and nut. They had other assignment in the royal court as :-
(a) At the time of title-giving ceremony in the royal court they used to give flower garland, (b) To give incense and light daily in the throne house was their duty. Moreover in the case of special worship they polished the royal throne.
(c) The 'Prasad' of worship observed in the royal court was also distributed by the Kuatia' group.
(d) It was their duty to arrange the place and bed for the families of the Maharaja and Thakurs during the time of worship observed in the palace.
(e) At the time of marriage the 'Kuatia' performed the task of carrying water for the bridegroom's party.
(f) During the marriage ceremony they took part in decorating the marriage pulpit with the Siuks.
4. Daityasiugh or Duising :- They were the bearers of the royal flag. During war, Darbar, expedition of the king and worship they bore the white flag. Besides these they made the structure for the image of the god and dressed the meat for the 'Hasam feast'.
5. Hujuria and Chiltia :-They were two branches of the same group (hoda). They remained present all the time in the royal court. That was why they were called 'Hujuria'. They did various types of deeds according to the necessity. One of the main duties was to carry articles of prasad and different birds and animals for sacrifice from the royal palace to the temple or worship area.

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6. Apaia :-Apaia meant fish purchaser. They performed the deed of purchasing fish for king and his family. Besides they collected firewood for the royal palace.
7. Chatra Tuia or Chakok Tuia :-(Chatra Dharaja) The word Chatra Tuia meant umbrella hearer. During Raj Darbar they held the royal symbol named Chandraban, Suryaban, Muhimurat, Chatra, Arangi etc.
8. Deorai or Galim:- They were Priest of god worshippers. They were priest at 'Kharchi' and 'Kerpuja.' They performed the puja of the fourteen gods.
9. Subenarayan : On the occasion of worship and 'Hasam' feast they remain engaged in dressing the fish.
10. Sena :- Among the foregoing ten groups if anybody did any adulterous deed the society then excommunicated him from the society with the order of the Darbar. The offenders of this class got their identity in 'Sena' group. Their sons enjoyed the advantage to re-enter in their own respective caste after offering feast to their caste. The Senas performed the duties of making oven for cooking 'Hasam' feast. Even more they washed the utensils and cleared the offal rejected by the Thakurs. They invited the invitees by heating large kettle drum when the cooking of 'Hasam' feast was over. During 'Kharchi' puja also drum beating was their duty.
11. Julai :- The Julai group was engaged to discharge all sorts of works for the queen and the members of the royal family. They were as slaves. The poverty stricken people who took shelter of others for food and clothes were also called Julai in course of time. They performed their duties in their master's house and lived there with their family. They departed from their master's house only when their family members increased in number.
According to the division of labour a number of sub groups were also formed within the Julai group. The sub-groups were as :-(a) Daspaia, Vegetable seller (b) Manarai-Mayna bird collector and protector. (c) Totaray :- Parrot bird collector and protector. (d) Mami plukcha-Mami (a kind of paddy) collector. (e) Maisa plukcha-Maisa (Jhum paddy) collector. (f) Gulchari-Planters of young plant of black pepper. (g) Challengrai -Maker of soda water.) (h) Mosorai: Chilly grinder.

The aforesaid sub-groups of the Tripur clans community have assimilated each other generally. On the basis of linguistic characteristic and socio-economic and cultural distinctiveness the Tripur clans population can also be sub divided into three groups. These groups are generally known as Beri, Dona and Daspa.

The Beri groups are mainly concentrated in the entire Kamalpur subdivision including north eastern part of Khowai sub-division, the revenue villages of Behala Bari, Basai Bari and Asharam bari areas i.e. across the Atharamura range up to the eastern bank of Khowai river.

The Daspa groups are inhabiting the rest of the Khowai sub-division including the revenue villages of Sadar sub.division under the Mohanpur and Jirania Blocks.

The Dona's are mainly concentrated in the revenue villages under Bishalgarh Block area specially in the southern part of Sadar division.

Some specific cultural distinctiveness of the aforesaid three groups are also found. These are as follows :- The Beris are expert in weaving while the Daspas are famous for their skill in handicrafts. The Donas possess closer affinity with the royal family of Agartala.

Among the three groups some distinct regional characteristics in pronunciation of colloquial dialect are also found.
Some specific characteristics in Beri pronunciation :-"w" pronounced as "o" Twi→(Toi)= Water. "R" pronounced as "L" & vice-versa (Ri) → (Li)=cloth (Rituku) →(Lituku) etc. Khwlai → Khorai (what do you do) Addition of swarai at the ending of sentences.  Nung Aro Tamo khowlai→ Nung Aro tamo khwrai swarai? (What are you doing there).

The Donas are generally using 'Ba' in place of 'Swarai'. Nung Aro tama khawlai tong ba? (What are you doing there?). Some other specific wordings used by Donas are:- Gorge-(Lunga) →(Dhung) (Masi-Aunt is (Toi)→ (Moi), Grand Father is (Dabura,)→(Thagur)  etc. Besides the aforesaid distinctive characteristics there are differences in style of' folk songs, design in handloom and weaving of costumes etc. 

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There are many opinions about the origin of Murasing clan of Tripura. Some of the accepted theories are as follows: The police of the royal fore while collecting the house tax found that some villages of Tripura are full of animal heads with the horns. These heads of different kinds of wild animals were hanged in the houses. The people of this village were till than not named. The royal officials who did not know the name of the clans called them 'murasing' meaning people who hanged horns of dead animals. Other opinion is that the then king of Tripura named these groups of people as the 'Murasing' meaning by the horns of the hills. It is found that the Mursings are mostly followers of 'Vaishnavism' a sect of Hindu, are supposed to held as high esteem like the horn of an animal.

It was Banamali Jamatia who preached Baishnab sect of Hindu religion among the Murasingh clans. After his the death his disciples Balaichand and Harichand took active role in spreading the Vaishnabism among the Murasingh clans. Since then they have embraced the Vaishnabism discarding traditional Tripuri religion. It was said that the preaching of Harichand influenced the king Birchandra Manikya and he also supported to convert to Vaishnabism, as a result many Old Tripuri or Debbarma also got converted Vaishnavism in those days.

Occupation, Culture and religious practices: Like any other Tripuri people the Murasinghs are also mostly agriculturist. In the past they were also involved in the Huk cultivation. But now a days the are cultivating the plain lands only. The educated section are engaged in government service and occupying in high post, a good number of them had been fund in literature also, which is very high compare to their total numbers.

Most of the Murasinghs are follower of Vaishnabism, but now many are diverting to prevailing religious practice of Tripura. The founder father of the Murasing community Harichand had set guidelines for good habit and manners for the Murasing community. They had been following this strictly till the recent past. He had formed an association of Murasing youth, which he named 'Sikla Motha.' In that association youth people he gave the garland of flower to every youth present there and gave them new a name.

Sikla montha: The senior most of the association was named as 'Sikla Misip' or leader. He is equivalent of the president of an organisation. The next senior is named as 'Sikla Rai' or secretary. The next post was 'Twifang' he is comparable to organizer of an organisation. Next to him was 'Sikla Chokdiri' his duty is to resolve any disputes among the members of the association. One more member of the group was Kaitho ; his work is to keep the relation between the senior of the village and the association. The next person is Dagia ; his duty is to direct any special function, as and when organized, he is similar to the modern day Director. Next to the Dagia is Chamrasi ; his duty is to obey the order of the Chokdiri, to give punishment of according to the rule to any offender of the association.

Like the young men's association the young women has also an association. The senior most of the association is called as Nareng , next to her is the Lupjari , and junior to her is the Bengraj . Next to her is the Yongkhati . Komchikon is junior to the fore most. Toksarangi is the most junior in the hierarchy.

Harichand formulated some rules and regulation for the well-being and guidance of the Murasing youth and for building their character and carrier.

Some of the rules and regulation were as follows:

•  One has no call to some one in the new nickname given in the Sikla motha. He should not be called by his real name. If some one calls by the social name of that person than the calling member of the association shall be fined.

•  Whenever any member of the association got marriage he shall be removed from the association. While leaving the association he shall pay some thing to the members of the association.

•  No one shall be allowed to be slang or use obscene language while so in the association.

•  If most of the members of the association got married then the association shall be dissolved and new will be formed.

•  The association has all the power to adjudicate and punish any member of the society for his wrongful act.

•  If any disputes or differences could not resolved by the youths association then the matter shall be referred to the village committee.

•  No member of the association can enter to any young girls home alone with out permission of any of the senior member of the association. He shall do so accompanying the Twifang of the organizer of the association.

•  No young men from out side is allowed enter in to the house of any young girl with out taking permission from senior members of the association. If he does so, then the association has all the power to punish such person.

•  All the rules and regulation of the association shall be in conformity with the Baishnavism and the ochai shall guide in finding the family life.

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