Updated: Mar 23, 2021
The Jamatias are one of the 19 tribes of Tripura. While they are scattered all over the state, they live in big numbers in and around Udaipur in South Tripura, the former capital of Tripura Kingdom. Here are five things that are a must-have in their traditional homestead.
1. A big main house: Earlier most homes were made of bamboo and mud. They were constructed big enough to double as a drawing room, bedroom, and dining area. The Jamatia community is very close-knit and so every household receives many guests from time to time. The main building is where the head of the family lives and entertains the visitors. Mats are spread on the floor to accommodate between 10-20 people. The well-off families used to have wooden beds and those who couldn't afford beds used to construct a stilt of bamboo to sleep on.
2. A separate kitchen: In a traditional homestead, the kitchen is built slightly away from the main house. The kitchen has a mud stove and a "baka" or shelf over the said stove. The baka is where the residents dry their meat and vegetables to give it a smoky flavour. The kitchens are built quite big so that it can also be used as a sitting room by the person cooking there. Two-three big bamboo baskets are used as a silo to store grains.
3. A borung nok: Jamatias still maintain a small 'home' for firewood. They construct a platform and build a roof over it. Then they stack it with firewood that is used both for cooking and for staying warm in winters. It is built in such a way that the wood stays dry during the rainy season.
4. Barikheto: Every Jamatia homestead boasts of a vegetable garden irrespective of how big or small it may be. The members of the house plant green vegetables such as bottle gourd, okra, and spinach at home so that they are never at a loss when they get a guest unexpectedly. The vegetable garden is called 'barikheto'.
5. Bamboo: The backyard of the house will almost always have a bamboo grove. They grow in abundance in Tripura and are the lifeline of the people. From baskets to utensils to mats and houses, bamboo provides the material with which people can make items for day-to-day use. A Jamatia household will always have a bamboo grove planted near it as they need bamboo very often.
With changing times, many families have now started building pucca homes. Life has become more comfortable with the use of gas stoves and the coming of electricity. Now is the time to spend time in the villages of Tripura before the older way of living disappears or reappears in some other form.
Note: The article highlights the opinion and lived experience of the writer and may not be representative of the entire community.