Tripura is a land of rich culture and diversity. Different tribal groups residing in the state have their own folk dances. Most of the themes of the dances revolve around the harvesting and cropping seasons as well as themes related to day to day activities of the tribal people. Back in those days, these dances were not meant to be performed for an audience but were rather performed among the tribes themselves to mark any special event or occasion and to enjoy among themselves. However, in contemporary times these dance forms are also performed for a larger audience as a means of entertainment and also to spread awareness and information about tribal life and culture.
So here are the ten amazing folk dances that are performed by the different tribes of Tripura.
1. Garia/ Goria - This dance is performed by the Tripuri and Jamatia tribes of Tripura. It is performed during the festival of Garia Puja which is celebrated to mark the sowing of new crops and prayer for a good harvest during the month of Baisakh. The dance starts with the worshipping of Lord Garia (called Baba Garia by the tribal people) by the Ochai (tribal Priest), followed by the dance. The dance is performed by both male and female members.
2. Lebang Bumani - This dance is performed during the monsoon period after the Garia Puja. During this season, a bright green-coloured insect called ‘Lebang’ (Green Cicadas) visits the hill slopes. The tribal men then with the help of bamboo sticks make a rhythmic sound which makes the insects come out from the places and then women catch these insects. The Lebang dance basically is the depiction/ replication of this activity by the Tripuri people.
3. Mamita Dance - This dance is also performed by the Tripuri tribe. It is performed during the harvest season to worship Mailuma and Khuluma Goddesses (Goddesses of Paddy, cotton and other crops). It is performed by both male and female members. The dance is performed on the songs sung accompanied by musical instruments which include Kham, Sumui and bamboo sticks. Props used in the dance include bailing by the females and da (a large knife) by the males.
4. Tangbiti - This dance is also performed by the people of the Tripuri community, especially by the Tripura and Noatia tribes. This dance usually depicts the day-to-day lives of the tribal people in the Jhum fields. The props used in the dance include Langa (a big basket carried on their backs by the tribal women) and Da (a large Tripuri knife) by the males. The steps of the dance generally imitate the activities that are performed in a Jhum field like those of clearing the forests. Both men and women take part in this dance.
5. Hojagiri/ Hodaigiri - This dance is performed by female members of the Reang community. The dance is performed on the night of Hojagiri and also on other special occasions. It is one of the most famous folk dances of Tripura. The dance involves using various props and balancing acts. It can undoubtedly be called one of the most difficult dances and requires great skill and expertise to perform.
6. Bizu - This dance is performed by the members of the Chakma tribe. It is performed during the Bizu festival (which refers to the Chaitra Sankranti or the end of the Bengali calendar) of the Chakmas. It is performed by both male and female members.
7. Sangrai - The Sangrai dance is performed by the people of the Mog community. It is performed on the occasion of the Sangrai festival which occurs in the month of Chaitra in the Bengali calendar.
8. Hai Hak - It is performed by the female members (sometimes males as well) of the Molsom community (a sub-tribe of the Halam tribe). It is performed by a group of men and women in order to please Goddess Laxmi. The Hai Hak dance is usually performed after harvesting the crops. The dance steps usually imitate the activities performed by the tribal people in the Jhum fields such as clearing the forest, sharpening the da, collecting or plucking vegetables from the fields, cutting the paddy, etc. The props in the dance include dula (small container) tied in the waists of the female dancers.
9. Wangala dance - It is also known as the ‘Festival of Hundred Drums’. This dance is performed by the people of the Garo tribe who form the second-largest tribal group in the neighbouring state of Meghalaya. The Garo Kham (drum) is an important part of this dance.
10. Cheraw dance - It is the traditional dance of the Darlong tribes of Tripura. The Darlongs comprise a small population in Tripura. The Cheraw dance is performed by both males and females. The males clapper the bamboo whereas the women dance in between the clappering bamboo.
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.