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Lampra Wathop: The God Of Things Big And Small In Tripura

Different communities around the world have their own faiths, beliefs, and ways of worshipping their gods. Similarly, since ancient times, Tripuris too have followed their unique way of worshipping and praying to their gods. Tripuris are nature worshippers and their religion is polytheistic closely related to Hinduism. Just like Bali Hinduism of Indonesia, Tripuri Hinduism has its own rituals which is different from mainland Hinduism.

Tripuri religion believes in the dichotomy of good and evil which is where the twin concepts of “Mwtai” and “Atai” comes in. Basically both are gods but they occupy two different poles of the moral code. Gods who possess the attributes of lying, deceit and trap people into sinning are called Atai. On the other hand, gods who bless humans with good luck and fortune are called Mwtai.


Among the Mwtais, Lampra or Lampra Wathop is the supreme God. While worshipping Lampra Wathop our ancestors used to sang a spiritual song dedicated to Lampra. "Chini nukhungni Mwtai kotorba Lampra Wathopya de?" "Bisi yaphango rwjaknai mwtai Lampra Wathopya de?" "Buphang waphangni bwlairok kraiyasani nukhungni Wathop rwo" Which translates as: “Our family's supreme god is Lampra Wathop isn't it? First god we worship at the beginning of the year is Lampra Wathop isn't it? Even before the leaves of trees falls Lampra Wathop is worshipped.”


Every Tripuri household prays to the Lampra Wathop at least once a year. Similarly, twice a year Lampra Wathop is worshipped by the village as a whole. Apart from this, the god is invoked at different phases of a person’s life—from the birth of a child to the death of an elder. Here is a list of occasions when we offer prayers to Lampra Wathop.


1. Abul Suphuru or Purification ceremony: Nine days after the birth of a child, its family worships Lampra Wathop as the purification ceremony takes place. During this, the sacred water from Lampra's haya (place of worship) is sprinkled all around the house and on the heads of all family members, relatives and acquaintances. Mung pharma is the name-giving ceremony that is a part of abul suhmani. Several names are written down and a lamp (dia/deepak) burns alongside each name. The name associated with the lamp that burns the longest is selected for the child.


2. Wedding or Kailai Panda: Even during a wedding Lampra Wathop is worshipped. Bringing bride and groom in front of Lampra's haya, first the Ochai (Tripuri priest) blesses them by sprinkling sacred water on their forehead, subsequently the parents and other senior members and acquaintances blesses the couple.


3. Death and funeral: Seven days after the death of a person Lampra Wathop is worshipped as part of the Horsni ritual. Sprinkling the sacred Lampra water inside and outside of the house is believed to remove the negative energy. Food is then offered to the soul of the death person. A small feast is also organized for relatives and acquaintances of the family.


4. Lampra Wathop of village: Twice a year, the god is worshipped in the house of Chokdiri or village Chief—once at the beginning of the year in the month of Talrung, another at the end of the year in the month of Talbang. Apart from this if someone in a village dies, Lampra Wathop of village needs to be worshipped in Chokdiri's house for Horsni ritual.


5. Family worship: Every year in every Tripuri household Lampra Wathop is worshipped for the well-being of the members. Apart from this, if someone in a family or if a household animal dies Lampra Wathop of family needs to be worshipped. Chanting a sacred spell, the Ochai performs the ritual. Different household animals like pigs, goats, fowl, ducks, pigeons etc. are sacrificed by referring them in sacred spell names. Some of the sacred spell names for different animals are: 1. Pig - Sri Mohabir raja 2. Goat - Sri Bhakbur raja 3. Hen - Sri Anapokkhi raja 4. Duck - Sri Bailihngsi raja 5. Pigeon - Sri Porokkhi raja 6. Egg - Sri Dimbo raja. Even the food needs to be offered by chanting sacred spell names to gods. While worshipping, every offering needs to be referred to with highly respected spell names in order to show respect to gods as well to the things that are being offered. Which is why Sri in front and Raja at the end of a spell name needs to be added, e.g Sri Mohabir raja, Sri Bhakbur raja, Sri Bailihngsi raja etc. There are different names among Tripuri gods, these names are only known by the Ochai.


Sources:

Book : Aitorma vol. 5 no. 9 (Sep 2017)

My grandmother Subha Laxmi Debbarma gave additional information about the Wathop Mwtai.


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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