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How The Tripuris Lost Their Ancient Script To A Goat: Myth Or Reality?

Tripuri people, for the past many centuries, have been an oral community. Our songs and stories in Kokborok language are passed down from one generation to another through festivals and gatherings. Although there is no way to confirm this, some people believe that the civilization may be 5,000 years old. There is also a belief that before orality became the primary way of the transfer of information, Tripuri people had their own script called Koloma, developed in the 1st Century AD.

It is believed that these manuscripts contain the Koloma script

There's an interesting story about how the people lost their script. It is said that a Tripuri scholar invented the Koloma script after many years of hard work and toil. He invented it at a time where there were no papers. He, therefore, wrote it down on a banana leaf. After he finished writing it down, he had an urgent urge to use a toilet. He hurriedly left the leaf on the ground and left to attend to nature's call.

When the scholar went away, a goat trotted towards the leaf and ate it. From that day onwards, the script was lost. However, the story of its invention continues. According to some Tripuri scholars the original Tripuri script still survive in some parts of Tripura. A few Ochais (Tripuri priests) still have it. Also a few scholars suspect that the temple of the 14 Gods (the traditional gods of Tripuri people at Kharchi temple) has few descriptions in Koloma script. However, the temple does not permit anyone inside the secret halls so it is difficult to ascertain the truth of such claims.

Another belief says that Koloma was invented by a scholar named Durlobendra Chontai. Later, two Brahmins Sukeswar and Vaneswar translated it in Sanskrit.

Some of the most notable Tripuri historical literary works, written by court scholars, include:

● The "Rajratnakar", The royal Chronicle of Tripuri kings

● The "Rajmala", Chronicle of Tripuri Kings of Tripura

Kokborok is a Tibeto-Burmese language which is the official language of Tripura. There are estimated to be a million speakers of the different dialects in Tripura, and additional speakers in Mizoram and Assam in India, as well as Sylhet and the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. According to Wikipedia, there are three main dialects of Tripuri, though the central dialect of the royal family, Debbarma (Puratan Tripur), is a prestige dialect understood by everyone. It is the standard for teaching and literature. It is taught as the medium of instruction up to class fifth and as subject up to graduate level.

Currently the revival of Koloma is under process.

About the author: Khapang Debbarma is a student of Civil Engineering at NIT, Agartala. He's a painter and poet. He has worked with different language, culture, and environmental organisations and translated many significant drafts in Kokborok. He's also teaching Tripuri language to foreigners through Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp through a page name "Learn Tripuri".


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