Reang: Wikis

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Reang or Riang, as it may be spelt, is one of the 21 scheduled tribes of Tripura state of India. The Reangs sometimes refer themselves as Bru. They are mainly dwelling in the North Tripura and the South Tripura districts of Tripura state in India. They speak the Reang dialect of language which is of Tibeto-Burmese origin which often is referred to as Kaubru. Their appearance is mongoloid.

Contents

The history of Reangs

Reang is the second most populous sub tribe of Tripuris after Debbarma clans. According to the legends one of the Tripuri prince was expatriated by the king, who along with his followers migrated to the Mayani Thalang area of Lushai hills and founded a state over there. He proclaim as king of the state and the descendant of the exiled Tripuri prince ruled over the state for generations. In due course of time there was no heir to succeed the throne, which lead to anarchy in the kingdom. Owing to some internal feud and vendetta four chief of the sub tribes, namely Twikluha, Yongsika, Paisika, Tuibruha and their entourage left their hearth and home and migrated through Chittagong to the state of Tripura centuries ago. These Reang chiefs could not climb up the Dombur hill peak for two consecutive times and succeeded in third times.

Mahendra Manikya was at the throne of Tripura kingdom. After reaching to the capital, these chiefs tried to persuade the ministers and other bureaucrats to give them permission to meet the king and submit their memorandum but was not successful in doing so. By then they have exhausted whatever food and edible they had brought with them and suffered a lot. They were very sad and disheartened by this. They were determined to send the message of their arrival to the king anyhow. In order to send information to the king they broke the dam of the river Gumti where worship was going on at that time. This was a serious crime and all of them were brought before the king. The king ordered them capital punishment. Some how this news came to Queen Gunoboti. The chiefs prayed in front of the queen who after persuading the king motivated to forgive these chiefs of their crime, who letter forgave them. Since then the Reangs became very obedient and loyal to the queen and throne of Tripura. It is said that the queen Gunoboti fed these chiefs with her breast milk in a big pan of brass, which is still intact with Kotor dofa, which was gifted by the queen. The queen gifted many other valuable things, which were carefully preserved by Reangs till date.

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Historical Population figures

In 1971 the Riang were the second largest of the scheduled tribes in Tripura. There were 64,722 people counted in the Riang tribe in Tripura that year. In 1961 the Riang had numbered 56,597 and in 1951 they had numbered 8,471.[1]

Meska and Molsoi groups

The Reang clans are divided into two groups:

  1. Meska,
  2. Molsoi.

The Meska Group

The Meska group is divided into seven sub groups or dopha, these are as follows:

  1. Meska :- "Meska"means the lemon tree in in kau bru language.
  2. Msa :- "Msa" means tiger in Kau bru. It is said that the fore-father of this dopha was brought up by a tigress in his child hood like the Romulus and Ramous of ancient Rome.
  3. Chorkhi :- "Chorkhi" means Spinning wheel in Kau bru, it is said that one Reang chief was speaking obscene about his daughter-in-law, when his friends started spinning the spinning wheel to musk the obscene of the chiefs. So the descendant are named after the chorkhi.
  4. Raikchaoh :- "Rai" means cane in Kaubru, "kchaoh" means red in Kaubru; it is said that the fore-father of this dofa used to wear cane made red colour armlet.
  5. wairem :- "wai" means tie, "rem" means mix/hybrid in Reanglanguage. It is said that they are descendant of Reang man and Kuki woman.
  6. Tauma yakcho :- "Tauma" means hen, "yakcho" means toeless; the toes of the fore-fathers of this dopha resembled to that of hen.
  7. Tuimuiyaphaoh :- "Tuimayaphaoh" means tortoise in Reang dialect, the fore-father of this dopha were suffering from white patches like the tortoise chest.

The Molsoi Group

The Molsoi group is sub-divided into six groups, which are as follows:

  1. Molsoi :- "Molsoi" is the derivative of msoi which means msoi in Kaubru. Their fore-fathers first settled in the deer dominated green valley. Since they were called in that name.
  2. Apeto :- "Apeto" is a type of fish in Kaubru. The fore-fathers' belly was big like the belly of Apet fish.
  3. Nouhkham :- "Nouh" means house, "kham" means burnt in Kaubru; once the fore-father of this dopha's house were burnt to ashes since then they were termed in this name.
  4. Chongpreng :- "Chongpreng" is a type of musical instrument, it is said that the fore-father of this dopha used to survive by playing this musical instrument as they were suffering from "gungri" disease.
  5. Yaohstam :- "Yaohstam" means ring of finger, it is said that the fore-father of this dopha used to used to wear ring and used to display proudly to others. This dopha has been in extinct at present.
  6. Reang kachko :- "Kachko" means chief in Kokborok, the fore-father of this dopha were chiefs of Reang.

Ktor Dopha

In the above thirteen dophas or sub-groups of the Reangs there are 26 chiefs or heads, who are designated as Kotor Dopha. Kotor means head and dopha means clan or group. The chiefs are divided into two categories:

  • Rai, and
  • Kaskau.

Rai and his subordinates chiefs

  • Rai :- "Rai" means Raja or chief of the sub group is bestowed as Rai.
  • Chapiya Khan :- Crown Rai.
  • Chapiya :- Crown Chapiya Khan.
  • Dor kalim :- He is the priest of Rai.
  • Doloi :- Helper of Rai.
  • Bandari :- Store keeper of Rai.
  • Kanda :- Servant and holder of umbrella of Rai.
  • Doya Hajari:- Drum player.
  • Muriya :- Trumpet player.
  • Dugria :- Helper in of priest.
  • Dauwa :- Arranger of puja, or worshiping.
  • Siakrak :- distributor of prasad, that is the sacrificial animal meat.

Kaskau and his sub ordinate chiefs

  • Kaskau :- The chief minister of the sub-group is bestowed as Kaskau.
  • Yaksung :- He is the assistant of chief minister.
  • Hajra :- Servant of Kaskau.
  • Kangreng :- Umbrella holder of Kaskau.
  • Kormo : Servant of Yaksung.
  • Khan Galim: Umbrella holder of Yaksung.
  • Khandol :- The collector of food and other required articles.

People of Kotor Dopha are exempted from paying taxes to the king.

Occupation, culture and custom

The Reangs are primarily an agriculturist tribe. In the past they mostly used to practise the Huk or Jhum cultivation, like most other Tripuri tribes. But now shifted to modern agricultural practice. Most of the educated are employed in government job and many are occupying very high post in administration. Some have also started doing business also.

Marriage system

The Reang is an endogamous tribe and had very little contact with the Bengali or other sub-tribe of Tripuri. But recently there has been some inter tribe marriages and inter-caste wedding among them. The marriage system is similar to other Tripuri tribe of Tripura. There is no dowry system but the bride-groom has to spend to father-in-law's house for two years before marriage is performed. There are two types of marriages;

  • Haloksai, and
  • Haloksam.

Parallel cousin marriage is prevalent but declining. Cross cousin marriage among the Reang is accidental. Child marriage is not allowed, widow marriage is permitted. Widows are prohibited to wear ornaments before one year is passed after the death of husbands. Widow and widower are forbidden to participate any entertaining and enjoying programme or activity or attending such activity within one year of death of their spouses. Remarriage of widow and widower are allowed after one year of death of the spouse. Monogamy is the present day practice of the society.

Marriage is arranged through the matchmaker Andra, who goes to the prospective bride's parent for negotiation. Then the brides party is invited to finalise the marriage in Kokswmgma, while pork, fowl, rice, rice beer are served. Marriage is settled to the satisfaction of both the party. The Ochai performs the wedding ceremony on the nuptial day fixed.

The Reang widower is not permitted to get marry to an unmarried virgin girl. The Reang marriage bond is very strong and Reang men cannot divorce without the consent of wife. If any Reang is alleged for extramarital relationship and found to be true then they are dealt with strict punishment and heavy penalty is imposed upon.

Dress and ornaments

The traditional dress of the Reang is simple and plain like other Tripuri people. Traditionally the men wear a hand woven loin cloth and a piece of cloth as a wrapper for upper portion. The women wear a long cloth called Rnai, a wraparound; from the waist to down to the knees. A Rsa, covering the chest, and Rikatouh for covering the whole upper half of the body, wears the upper part of the body. These are woven by the Reang women, which are colourful and very beauty full. But now a days the educated mass are wearing all the modern dresses like any other part of the world.

The Reang women are very fond of personal decoration and take much care for the makeup and hair-do. They love like other Tripuri people, ornaments, flowers, and cosmetics. Silver ornaments especially the necklace of silver coins, the Rangbauh have a pride of place and status.

Dance and music

It is very much integral part of the Reangs daily life. No other Tripuri people are so fond of dance like them. As a result the Hojagiri folk dance of Riang sub tribe had attained achieved acclaim all over the world.

Customs

Most of the disputed and differences are settled by the people of Kotor dofa, that is by the Rai and Kasko of respective sub tribe. It is done through the customary law of the Reangs. Whenever a disputes arise in the between the member of the community, a meeting is called by the Rai. All relevant arguments are heard and then justice is done according to the principle of natural justice. Whatever verdict or punishment is pronounced in the judgment it is implemented with firm hand and payments of penalty etc. are made then and there.

Religious belief and practices

Like other Tripuri people they also believe in many god and goddess. The centre figures are those of fourteen gods and goddess of Tripura. Their important festivals are same those of prevailing in Tripura. These are Ker, Gonga mwtai, Goria, Chitragupra, Hojagiri, Katangi puja, Lampra uathop. The religious observance are community in nature, and each family has to contribute his part of share of payment. It is called as Khain.

All the religious festivals are arranged with the prior meeting of chiefs. In such meetings political, social, and religious matters of importance are discussed and decided by the majority of the meeting.

The deities of the Reangs are similar those of other Tripuri people. These are:

  • Sibrai', the supreme deity or Mtai Ktor
  • Tuima, the presiding deity of river,
  • Mainouhma, the goddess of paddy,
  • Khuluhma, the goddess of cotton,
  • Goroia, the god of wealth prosperity well being and war,
  • Kalaia, brother of Goria,
  • Sangrongma, the deity of mother earth,
  • Hathaikchuma, the goddess of hill,
  • Buraha, the god of jungle,
  • Thuhnairou, the god of death,
  • Bonirou, the god of evil spirit,
  • Nouhsuma, the goddess of house holds.

Worshipping of the deities

The worship of different deities are similar to the main-stream Tripuri people. Aokchai, the priest performs all the ceremony along with his helper. The green bamboo pole is used as deity in most on the cases. Different types of life stock like fowl, pig, goat eggs, etc. are offered in the worship. The place of worship is selected out side of the houses. Where the offerings are dedicated in the names of the deities in front of the wathop, green bamboo pole, the symbol of god. But the Rangtouk and Nouhsuma puja is held inside the house only. Two earthen pots are filled with newly grown rice and at top of the pot some oval pebbles collected from huk specially. The pebbles are called the fortune stone. And the pots (Rongtuk) are decorated with the rice powder, vermilion, and garlands. One is named Mainouhgma, the other as Khuluhgma.

Rituals on birth of a baby

On the birth of baby many pujas are observed. These are Kebengma, Abu suma, Khongkhonok kama, Maitukma etc. for the welfare of the baby. The fowl, prawn, several leaves of trees are needed. When the child grows up special form of worship has to be performed. Bukhuksini the seven-gurdian deities of witches are pleased with sacrifice of a pig, four fowls, and other things beside.

Ceremony on death

The mortal remains are cremated. The obsequies is done in two stages: Broksakami and Kthuinaimo.

Broksakami

When a person dies his corpse is first bathed with the Chobtui that is "alkali water or soap", and Mairangtwi that is "water obtained from the washing of raw rice". After that he is dressed with new clean Rikatouh, head is dressed with another piece of rikatouh like the headgear. In case of woman rnai and rsa. Then a fowl is sacrificed in front of the feet of the corpse. Later on an earthen pot filled with mean and rice placed at the feat of the deceased and it is followed by dance rituals through out he night. Rice bear is distributed to all the mourners excepting the family members of the deceased. The next morning the body is laid to rest on pyre and cremated usually near a stream.

Kthoinaimo

It is a ritual connected with the respectful and well wishing offering to the manes. Laotou or the soul deceased remains under the control of the sisi manji, the son of Buraha , for a year and it is said that sisi manji is the protector of the soul. On the day of the kathainaimi the widow of the deceased offers dried rice, meat, fish, fruits, and wine in the name of Laotau and sisi manji on the smangnouh , then taking the burnt bones or ashes go to the charinok. It is worshiped for over a period of one year or he next hangrai, when it is immersed in any river or in Gomati River at Dumbur, according to the ability of the family.

In short the religious culture of the Reang is similar to that of other Tripuri of Tripura.

References

  1. ^ Gan-Chaudhuri, Jagadis. Tripura: The Land and its People. (Delhi: Leeladevi Publications, 1980) p. 10

See also


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