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How A Tripuri Custom Celebrates Same-Sex Friendship As An Essential Aspect Of Life

In today’s world, a person’s wedding is touted to be the most memorable occasion of his or her life. It is considered to formalize a partnership between two soulmates. But what if we have deep love, respect, and loyalty towards our best friends too? Why is there no formal event to celebrate these friendships which guide us through our lives' difficult moments and add so much cheer to it?

Friendship is considered very sacred among Tripuris (Photo for representation purposes only)

Well actually, we Tripuris do have a custom that understands the value of friendship and how it is a special relationship that demands respect and celebration. From time immemorial, we have been organizing a special ceremony to formalize the bond.

This custom is called “yaar” and “kiching” for male partners and “maare” for women partners. Once you have found your best friend, you organize a function to formally announce that you have become “yaar” or “maare” with your best friend. This event can take place at any point of life. Just like a wedding, the best friends invite a priest and some guests to the function. The priest prays for the friends and solemnizes the friendship. After that, a feast is organized.

The ceremony of “yaar” and “maare” is very interesting. The two friends gift betel nut and a new set of clothes to one another. The elders of the families offer wine to the guests. After the priest is done with his prayers, the friends hug each other and become friends for life. They are now considered to be a part of each other’s life in every way. This means that the children of the friends will address both “yaar” and “maare” as “father” and “mother”. This tradition may have developed in earlier times to protect the children in case one of the parents passes away.

This may seem very weird to some people but for Tripuri people it is a very common tradition. Even today people in the villages observe this custom.

This tradition can only be seen among all tribals of Tripura. However, among the Jamatia community, distant relatives may also become yaar/kiching. Becoming yaar/kiching is not limited to religion or community. A Muslim can become yaar/kiching with a Hindu as friendships do not discriminate.

The information for this article has been provided to me by Gahani Swari Jamatia.

This article has been created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.


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