Nestled in the quiet lush greenery of hills, verdant valleys and transparent waterscape, Tripura is a land of plentiful myths and legends. This state, home to nineteen indigenous tribal groups, Bengali speaking non-tribals and a diversity of culture, resembles a tiny dot on the peninsular India's map dangling between North-East India and Bangladesh. The rich traditional art, culture, history and archaeology, flora and fauna, biodiversity and flushing meadows always cast a magnetic spell on visitors. The state's rich handicrafts, traditional music, diversity of cultural streams and faiths, co-existing down the annals of history in pristine peace constitute its irresistible charm.
Tripura has a glorious history that can be traced in its archaeological remains, cultural heritage, exquisite sculpture and architecture spread across its landscape.
It is the third-smallest among the 28 states in the country, behind Goa and Sikkim and it spreads over 10,491.69 km2. It extends from 22°56'N to 24°32'N, and 91°09'E to 92°20'E. Its maximum extent measures about 184 km from north to south, and 113 km east to west. Tripura is bordered by the country of Bangladesh to the west, north and south; and the Indian states of Assam to the north east; and Mizoram to the east.
Indigenous communities form about 30 per cent of Tripura's population. The Kokborok-speaking Tripuri people are the major group among 19 tribes and many sub-tribes; Bengali people form the ethno-linguistic majority. According to the provisional census of 2011, the total human population of the state of Tripura is 3,671,032. The highlands are areas of sparse population and the lowlands are densely populated. In Tripura, there are not only people hailing from different regions but also people constituting different ethnic groups. Each ethnic tribe has its own language and distinctive forms of cultural expressions, such as music, dance and festivals.
The major tribes residing here are:Tripuri, Reang, Chakma, Halam, Garo, Lusei, Darlong
The undulating hill-scape of the state’s sixty per cent covered with lush greenery of forest which resonates with the traditional tribal music and dances on ceremonial occasions.Bengali people represent the largest non-tribal community of the state. Bengali culture, as a result, is the main non-tribal culture in the state. Indeed many tribal families, especially those who are from the elite class and reside in urban centres, have embraced Bengali culture more than their tribal cultural roots.
However, Bengali culture coexists with tribal traditional practices, notably the Tripuri culture. One of the most remarkable and interesting facts about Tripuri Culture is that they have 9 different kinds of marriages viz. NokkaisaKaimung (Marriage by exchange), KharlaiKaijakmani (Marriage by elopement), PhuisaiTubuma (Marriage by purchase), KoklamKwrwiKaimung (Marriage by capture), HamjaklaiKaijakmani (Marriage by love), Siklasogyakaimani (Child marriage), Chamariomor (Marriage by service), Chamariompa, Sundulphulmani (Widow remarriage).
Bengali is the most spoken language, due to the predominance of Bengali people in the state. Kokborok is a prominent language among the tribes. Several other languages belonging to Indo-European and Sino-Tibetan families are spoken by the different tribes.
Tripura is noted for bamboo and cane handicrafts. Bamboo played important part in the jhum cultivation (shifting cultivation) of the tribes. It was used to make watch stations on stilts, and was devised to carry food and water. Besides these usages, bamboo, wood and cane were used to create an array of furniture, utensils, hand-held fans, replicas, mats, baskets, idols and interior decoration materials.
Music and dances are integral part of the Tripuri tribal communities. Songs are sung during religious occasions, weddings, and other festivals. Each tribal community has their own repertoire of songs and dances. The Tripuri and Jamatia tribe perform Goria dance during the Goria Puja;Jhum Dance (also called Tangbiti Dance)is performed in the harvest season, Lebang Dance, Mamita Dance, and MosakSulmani Dance are other spectacularTripuri dances. Reang community, the second largest tribe of the state, are noted for their hojagiri dance performed by young girls balancing on earthen pitchers. The Bizhu dance is performed by the Chakmas during the Bizhu festival (the last day of the month of Chaitra). Other tribal dances are Wangala dance of the Garo people, Hai-hak dance of the Halam branch of Kuki people, Sangrai dance and Owa dance of the Mog tribe, and others.
This write-up on the State of Tripura is just an introduction to the land and its people. It is not meant to be an exhaustive or authoritative document.