main features of festivals in Tripura is that, whether a festival
is basically tribal or not, all people - tribal and non-tribal will join it in a
joyous mood and be part and parcel of it.
Of the many festivals current in Tripura, the one that occupies the pride of
place is the worship of the fourteen deities popularly known as Kharchi
Puja celebrated in July at Agartala (Puran Agartala). The week-long
celebration is held in the temple premises and is joined by thousands of people.
The word Kharchi is said to be a corrupt form of Khya which means earth. Kharchi
Puja is, therefore, the worship of the earth - the earth that sustains mankind
with all her resources. Sacrifice of goats and pigeons at the alter of gods is a
usual feature of the festival.
Next in importance come
Ker and Garia Pujas - both
are traditional tribal festivals. The former is celebrated two weeks after
Kharchi Puja. The guardian deity of Vastu Devata is Ker.
A large piece of bamboo
when bent in a particular fashion assumes the image of Ker. It is generally
believed that the former rulers used to perform this Puja for the general
welfare of the people of the state. The literal meaning of Ker is boundary or
specified area. Two age old beliefs may lie behind the ritualistic
incantation of a specified boundary for the Ker Puja. One is to safeguard the
interest of the people from any calamitous misfortunes, diseases, and
destitution. The other is to save people from any external aggression. Offering
and sacrifices constitute an important aspect of Ker Puja.
On the seventh day of the month of Baisakh (April) is held the Garia Puja - another important festival for the tribals of the state. The celebration
starts from the last day of Chaitra. Two deities- Kalia and Garia - are
worshipped. The Puja is held to propitiate the deity for blessings. The Garia is
a community festival. Sacrifice of cocks is an important feature of the Puja.
Another equally important feature is dancing and rejoicing after the Puja. The
Garia dance is very popular among the Tripuris and the Reangs. Symbolic of the
worship of the deities as well as of the socio-economic activities of the
households, these dances represent hunting, fishing, food-gathering and various
Navanna; the festival of new rice, Ganga Puja is celebrated
in March-April every year. This is another remarkable tribal festival. Ganga, it
may be recalled, is one of the fourteen deities of the land. Like Garia Puja,
this too is a community festival. People gather by the streamside, pare three
piece of bamboo into beautiful flowers, the villagers then build a temple with
bamboos in the middle of the stream, and the ageless rituals take place amidst joy and
splendour. God is propitiated by the sacrifice of goats, buffaloes and
ganders to save the people from any epidemic.
Other two important festivals of Tripura are
Durga Puja and Diwali.
Both are community festivals, but the former has attained the status of being
the greatest community festival in Bengal and Tripura. The four-day long Durga
Puja is generally held in autumn (Sep-Oct) every year. The immersion of the
deity takes place on the Vijaya-Dashami or the fourth day of the Puja.
The Puja offers a unique opportunity to see the organisational ability of the
young men at its best. A very healthy competition develops among different club
or Para boys to exhibit the Para Puja in its best form.
Puja was also an occasion for a social get-together. On the night of the
Vijaya-Dashami, the ruling house used to hold a great community dinner known as
Hasam Bhojan. Two explanations are offered for this dinner entertainment. One is
that this was an occasion to honour the soldiers of the soil. The other is that
the phrase is a concept form of Asama Bhojan which means a community dinner of unequal.