Since the people of Tripura belong to a blend of various tribal communities, they follow different customs and traditions. According to the Reang community the marriages are fixed by a matchmaker who is widely known as Andra where he does the initial negotiations between the boy's and the girl's family. When the marriage is finalized the guests are served with pork, rice and rice beer. The wedding is performed by the Ochai. Child marriage is not encouraged in this community and also widow marriage can take place only after one year of the death of the husband. The widow and widower are not allowed to participate in any social or religious gathering one year after the death of their spouses. A widow is not allowed to wear any ornaments after the death of her husband. They do not have any dowry system but however the groom has to spend for two years to the father- in -laws' house before the wedding. At the birth of a child as a matter of thanking the god several pujas are performed for the safe growth of the child and sacrifices are also done to please the god. When a person dies his or her body is first washed with soap and water and then with the water which is got from the cleaning of the raw rice. After which they are dressed up neatly with their traditional attires and in case of a female, a fowl is sacrificed near the feet of the deceased. The body is left the whole night during which the ritual of dance is performed and the mourners are given rice beer to drink. After this the next day morning the body is cremated near a stream. Some of the tribes still cling on to quaint customs like floating colorful parasols in ponds to honour the dead.
Wedding Customs of Tripura
The smallest of the North-eastern states of India, Tripura, has cultivated cultural diversity and traditional magic significant for the population there. The reason for diverse culture is that this state is sandwiched between Bangladesh on three sides and Assam and Mizoram states in the eastern side. Along with the bountiful nature and mountainous beauty of Tripura, the heritage of this state flourishes more with its human resources and their cultures. The occasions, celebrations and festivals here convey a touch of originality coated with extensive layers of traditionalism.
Weddings like most of the other customs are a visual delight in Tripura with age old rights and customs along with an essence of the modern mind. There are various colors of weddings here with traditional tribal customs as well as Bengali styles and the hybrid ones. Some of the authentic Tripura marriage customs are described in brief below:
Hamjwk Tubui Kaimani
This is the actual traditional Tripuri marriage system. This includes old customs of negotiations between the families of the bride and the groom through a marriage broker along with the guardians. This is mostly observed among the Tripuris of the Sadar South. Raibai is what the marriage broker is called. Raibai along with the boy’s parents visits the girl’s home to choose her. They follow some superstitions regarding choosing the bride such as if during the visit they hear the bleat of deer or see any corpse or have a previous night dream of falling down of their hut due to cyclone, they do not set off for the visit on that day.
When the girl has been chosen for the marriage, the girl’s parents will demand dowry that will include money, ornaments and other articles. Among the Tripuris the bride will not get dowry for the in laws. If the bridegroom family agrees with the dowry then the marriage date is fixed by the Raibai. This is known as date for the ‘Koksungma’ (Mangalacharan).
On the Koksungma day, the would-be bridegroom family assembles in the would be bride’s home. The parents of both the sides sit side by side and two rice beer pots are kept before them. Two earthen oil lamps are also kept beside the rice beer pots. A bell metal plate containing some cotton, durba (long grass), copper coin, sesame seeds and soil is put in front of the parents to perform the rituals of ‘Dangdua’. Each person performs this ritual three times. After that both the parties take the rice beer. The father of the bride offers some money for meat to be arranged for the feast.
The would be bride then comes in front of the gathered people and bows before her parents, to her would be in-laws and all other senior members. The elderly people bless the bride with money, coins or jewelries and these articles are kept on that bell metal plate. After that the bride has to bathe her parents and her would be in-laws also. As per the custom, the bride has to wash the hands of all the elderly people after they have finished the feast. These rituals are known as ‘Koksungma’ which finalizes the marriage. After this day, the bride-groom's father will visit the bride’s home along with the Raibai to offer dowry. Both of the parties then sit together and decide a date for the marriage.
The day before the marriage, women will cut betel leaves and nuts on the name of the bride and the groom and make “Ulu” sound twisting their lips, three times for the bride and seven times for the groom. This ceremony is called “Kuaitano”.
On the morning of the marriage day, the ‘Lampra Wathop’ deity is worshipped along with ‘Tuisangramma’. The groom’s family proceeds for the bride’s house with jharies or water pots, palanquin and musical instruments. This is known as ‘Khum Phunugo’. After the formals and rituals are over, the bride has to leave her parent’s home and step into the palanquin to proceed for her in-laws home. There is a taboo that the bride’s mother cannot attend her daughter’s marriage or accompany her daughter during her leaving ceremony.
They keep dried turmerics, dices, haritaki and wild beans on a plate for the bride and groom to play dicing. In the Tripuri marriages, the groom’s family offers wine bottles to the bride’s family. The newlywed couple is not allowed to sleep together on the first night. This is the concept taken from the Bengali marriages “Kalratri” custom. The bride on the next morning has to be taken for a bath. The wedding clothes are washed and kept away. New vessels will be arranged with metal articles for the bride to cook a first rice meal. The groom’s family will arrange a bedi or marriage stage and the exchange of garlands happens there. Then the groom will bring the bride inside his home. One artificial cradle will be made and one grind stone will be placed which symbolizes a new born baby. The bride will swing the cradle three times. All the attendees will then enjoy, sing and play games. There will be drinks along with authentic cuisine. This is the authentic Tripuri marriage custom followed. However nowadays it is losing its popularity.
Other Types of Wedding in Tripura
Nokkaisa Kaimung (Marriage by Exchange)
This is a rare marriage scenario within Tripuris. In this case, the parents of the boy and the girl exchange their children that is the boy is exchanged for the girl. This is done to avoid dowry. The rites and rituals are similar as ‘Hamjwk Tubui Kaimani’.
Fuisai Tubuo (Marriage by Purchase)
In this kind, the bride groom pays the bride’s parents with certain amount of money and buys the bride. Rites and rituals for ‘Hamjwk Tubui Kaimani’ is being followed then.
Haimjak lai kailaimani (Marriage by Love)
This is a common and nowadays spreading marriage culture. The boy and the girl falls in love and convey their parents to accept their relation. If the parents are convinced, the marriage happens with traditional ‘Hamjwk Tubui Kaimani’ rituals.
This is also one of the prevalent Tripuri marriages. In this case the bridegroom leaves his house after marriage and settles down in his father-in-law’s house for good. He owns some paddy field from his father-in-law and stays with them. All normal matrimonial ceremonies happens for this also.
This type of marriage is similar to service marriages, yet the only difference between the two is duration to serve. In this case, the bridegroom has to serve for a short period in his future father-in-law’s house in comparison with the bridegroom of ‘Chamari Kaimani’ marriage.
Burui Hamjagwi Kaijakmani
In rare cases, the girl turns against her parents for not marrying the boy that her parents have chosen. She mostly will like or love another boy and convinces her parents to convince the parents of that boy for their marriage. If the results are positive, the marriage happens following traditional Tripuri customs.
This is widow marriage and adding goodness to our society, it is prevalent in Tripuri culture. Any widow, widower, divorcee or a deserted woman is allowed to remarry. The marriage proposal are again carried by the Raibai and if agreed the rituals are same as Hamjwk Tubui Kaimani. The worship of ‘Wathop’ deity and ‘Tuisangrama’ are performed. Ten fowls are being sacrificed for this ceremony. A widower can choose a maiden girl as his wife however a widow cannot choose a bachelor. A widow or divorced lady has to mary a widower or divorced man only to remarry.
This is a form of service marriage by the groom. In this system the groom gains the bride after his service in his future in-laws house for a defined tenure. The bridegroom is known as Chamari in Tripuri. The tenure can extent from 2 to 4 years also. The Raibai initiates this proposal, the future groom is provided with required cloths and utensils to have food. The future groom then contributes all works starting from water fetching to working on fields. At the end of the tenure, the marriage takes place and they call this puja as ‘Theka Subaio’. One banana leaf is put before the groom and on the leaf all worship articles are put. After the marriage a big feast is arranged where dried fish curry is an inevitable dish.