Bengali Culture in Tripura
Tripura is a beautiful North-Eastern state whose culture is embroidered both by the native tribes as well as the Bengalis living there through generations. The native traditions and customs have a lot of influence by the Bengalis. Presently about seventy percentage of the major population of Tripura constitutes Bengalis. These Bengalis migrated to this state from Bangladesh or East Bengal (as it was called by Pakistan) during 1947 and 1971 wars at large; when they wanted a refuge from the Pakistan warriors. The native inhabitants accepted the Bengalis with broad hands and smiling faces. Thus the evolving of the current mixed culture of this state arose.
History of Tripura
Tripura was a vast land till Indian Independence in 1947. The eastern hilly part was known as Hilly Tripura and the western plains as “Chakle-Roshanabad” or plain Tripura. The last king of Tripura – Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Bahadur died a premature death and his son Yuvaraj Kirit Bikram was a minor boy at that time. In that condition, Pakistan got a chance to snatch the plain Tripura part and add to eastern Pakistan or Bangladesh. The people of Chakle-Roshanabad were mostly Hindu Bengalis and they suffered extreme tortures and religious persecution. Then during the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan, the Hindu Bengalis fled from the western plains and took refuge in the hilly regions of Tripura. The Bengalis bought lands and fields from the native Tripuris and Chakmas and started settling down in this new state regaining their stability. The Tribes used to consider the Bengalis as a higher class group; hence they started taking up the customs and religious beliefs of the Bengalis incorporated within their own traditions. The Bangladesh Bengalis are called as “Bangal”.
Bengali Language and Culture in Tripura
The native Tripuri language – Kokborok does not have a script. The script used for this is Bengali and this shows how the tribes have also accepted the Bengali language into their lives. Considering Bengalis as a superior class made the Bengali language also superior. The tales of the Tripura Kings known as “Rajmala” was written in Bengali. Eventually Bengali became the main mode of conversation among all people with various languages such as Kokborok, Chakma or Santhal. Bengali was thus stated as the official language of the state. All the educational institutions have Bengali as one of the mandatory languages. The kids learn Bengali songs and traditional dances from the childhood. Bengali movies are very prevalent in all theatres there.
During 1501, King Dhanya Manikya built the famous Tripureshwari Kali Temple at Udaipur. This temple is considered as one of the 51 Holy Piths of the Goddess. Chandi mandap at Amarpur and Kali Temple at Kashba also signifies the ancient growth of Bengali culture in this land. Currently most of the population here are Bengalis and the capital city of Tripura consists of most Bengali Hindu temples. They celebrate all the cultural festivals of Bengalis such as the five day long Durga Puja , Saraswati Puja, Janmastami and many other events.
Tagore and Tripura
Rabindranath Tagore has visited Tripura for seven times. The royal family of Tripura has high regard for art, culture and literary activity. King Birchandra Manikya was charmed by the verse “Bhagna Hriday” composed by Tagore. Tripura gave the first royal felicitation to Rabindranath before the country or world even knew him. The last king of Tripura, Bir Bikram Manikya Bahadur offered “Bharat-Bhaskar” title to Tagore in 1941.
On request from Tagore, King Radhakrishna Manikya helped Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose to build the “Basu Vijnaan Mandir”. Tagore gave the names for “Ujjayanta palace”, “Malancha Niwas” and “Neermahal”. He composed songs related to Tripura and its culture. His novel “Bisharjan” is taught in Colleges and Universities. This novel was regarding the old age custom of practicing human sacrifices during the Tripureshwari Kali Goddess puja and how did it stop. Tagore loved the food in Tripura and enjoyed specially the dry fish dishes of the state.
Durga Puja in Tripura
Durga Puja is the biggest Bengali festival held in Tripura. During this
time the complete Agartala town is decorated. Puja pandals all around
and people leaving behind their religions and caste or creeds move
together to enjoy the five days long celebrations unitedly. This also
depicts the predominance of Bengali culture in this state. Apart from
Durga puja, Bengali celebrations such as Lakshmi Puja, Deewali, Jamai
Shashti and many others are observed here. Every year Durga Puja is
celebrated in the Royal Palace of Tripura.
Eventually the natives of Tripura started to take up the Bengali
costumes. They wore cotton sarees and used all Bengali jewels with
“Sindoor” on forehead. They also wear the traditional red and white
bangles that Bengalis wear during marriages. It thus created the soul
connection between the natives and Bengalis.
In every corner of the state, one can get Bengali food. The variety of
fishes, mutton preparations and Bengali sweets are prevalent. Pork
cuisine is also being enjoyed throughout. The Bengali cuisine in Tripura
matches more with Bangladesh than Kolkata preparations. Dry fish is a
great delicacy here and usage of little uncooked mustard oil over the
cooked dishes is also common. Thus there is a combination of both
Bengali and tribal traditions and both plays an equal role to work for
this state’s growth and pride.