A diverse ethnic element among the people of Tripura is that - there are two
major racial elements, namely, the Indo-Aryans represented by the Bengalese and
the Indo-Mongloids represented by a few communities like the Tripuris, the
Reangs, the Jamatis, the Noatias, the Kukis, the Halams, the Chakma, the Mogh
and the Lushai. Besides these nine major tribes, there are ten more tribes. All
the nineteen tribes are classified as 'Scheduled Tribes'.
The Tripuris also called Tripuras or Tipras are the original inhabitants of the
state. They constitute about a little over 16 percent of the total and 57% of the
tribal population of the state. The formal rulers of the land is believed to be
the descendants of the Kshatriyas. In course of time, a section of this
community came into close contact with the Bengali settlers, and was much
influenced by their language, culture and custom. Then a new community, now
known as Natun Tripuris, a sort of breakaway group of the original (Puram)
A few among the Tripuris who were close to the royal family (known as
Thakur) settled in and around Agartala. They are quite advanced in education and
general enlightenment. High public officials, writers, musicians, engineers and
doctors are found among them.
The other group who live on the hill-slopes are
not much improved regarding economic status or nature of occupation.
They practice jhooming (or shifting cultivation), fetch wood from the forests,
sell vegetables and bamboos. The women help men in
jhooming, weave cloth on
their traditional loin looms and take care of pigs, fowl etc. Their houses made
of bamboo, are built five to six feet above the ground to avoid hazards from
Reangs the tribal group constitute about 14% of the
tribal and 4% of the total population of the state. They are broadly divided
into two groups. Meksha or Mechka and Marchai or Malchai. The former is again
sub-divided into Masha, Raichak and some other sub-groups, while the principal
sub-groups among the latter are Apet and Champung. The community is governed by
a well-defined hierarchical institution; the chief enjoys the title Rai.
The Reangs are considered as one of the strongest pillars of the states military
forces. The Reangs are Hindus and generally believers in the Sakti cult. Like
other tribals they also believe in animism.
Another section of the Tripura community is known as
Jamatia - the term seems to
have originated from jamayet, which means a gathering or mobilization. Like the
Reangs, the Jamatias also constituted the fighting force during the time of
Tripura King.Their system of worship comprises both Hindu practices and animistic rites.
Having many social institutions in common with the Bengalese, the Jamatias are
taking to plough cultivation in preference to jhoom and are now settling down in
the plain areas of the state.