RITUALS OF BIRTHS-ACHAIMA
When a married woman conceives for the first time, then in sonic cases, for the
welfare of the pregnant woman, 'Kebeng-buo' and 'Fara-tano' are worshipped in the
fifth or seventh month of pregnancy.
Determination of Pregnancy:
When menstruation stops a woman becomes pregnant. Moreover, when the outer
surface of the belly gradually changes, the woman becomes certain of her
Counting of months:
A Tripuri woman generally counts the months of her pregnancy from the date when
the monthly course stops. They consider 10 lunar months completed as full term
pregnancy, which is medically calculated 280 days of full term pregnancy.
Prohibition during pregnancy:
Generally from the fifth month of pregnancy a woman does not cohabit with her
husband. It is believed that copulation in the advanced stage of pregnancy is
dangerous for the mother and the baby in the womb.
Restriction on food:
No specific restriction on food is imposed during the period of pregnancy. Many
expectant mothers do not eat Mrigal fish during their pregnancy. It is believed
that if they take Mrigal fish during pregnancy then the baby in the womb, after
its birth, will suffer from epilepsy. Many urban Tripuri women observe this
taboo even to the present days.
Restriction of work:
A pregnant woman refrains from lifting load and doing other hard work at the
advanced stage of pregnancy. This prohibition is imposed for the welfare of the
mother and the baby in her womb.
Protection during pregnancy:
A few Tripuris, like many other tribals, believe in the necessity of keeping an
amulet in the body. This amulet is prepared with roots, barks, leaves etc. of
particular plant along with other things. This amulet is given by the Ochai
(village priest) after a performance of magical rites. This amulet is given to
protect the expectant mother and the unborn baby from the evil spirits, or evil
eyes, and to obtain security against any mischievous deeds done by the enemy.
Determination of the sex of the unborn baby:
Actually there is no practical device to determine the sex of the unborn baby.
Sometimes, the Ochai or an experienced person determines the sex of the unborn
baby by assumption. This assumption is always not accurate.
At the time of a difficult labour a little water with a performance of magical
rites by the Ochai is given to the pregnant woman for normal delivery.
Sometimes, mustard oil sanctified with mantras is also given to the pregnant
woman for rubbing it on the belly for a normal delivery. It is also learnt that
during difficult labour the husband rubs his leg three times on the belly of his
wife by stopping his breath. Sometimes a 'Risa' (breast fastener) is tied to the
upper belly of the pregnant woman just to check the upward movement of the baby.
If performance of all these rites or customs fail to make the delivery of the
child safe and proper then they worship, the malevolent deity (Thumnairag), the
deity of death news messenger. This worship is performed by the Ochai, In this
worship sacrifice of a goat or she goat is essentially required.
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Observance during Delivery:
When labour pain begins the woman is allowed to lie in a separate room—or in a
portion of the main room. If it is possible they build a temporary hut or lying
room. For parturition they engage midwife and other elderly women of the family
and the neighbourhood. The lady who plays the main role to make a delivery
successful is called 'Lumajuk'. And the lady who cuts the umbilical cord is 'Kumajuk'.
Generally during delivery only females are allowed to stay inside the lying
room. The males are permitted to enter only when any great difficulty arises.
Position of the expectant mother during delivery:
When the labour pain begins the woman sits by spreading her legs. She stakes her
legs on a piece of bamboo three to four cubits in length Yakhatam for support
and holds a hanging rope (Risinduk) by both hands. Both the articles 'Jyakhatam'
and 'Risinduk' are needed during cloth weaving. As soon as the child is
delivered the Kumajuk cuts the umbilical cord by a sharp edged little piece of
bamboo slide (Wamtha) and tie the umbilical cord with a thread in three knots.
The placenta and umbilical cord is cast away by the 'Kumajuk'. The kumajuk is
accompanied by the father of the new born baby or in his absence, another
person. They have a belief that the far the placenta and the umbilical cord are
scattered the farther will be the next issue. Instead of throwing the placenta
and umbilical cord they scatter it properly on the basis of belief that if they
throw it away the child will be scared of wind, cyclone etc. in his life time.
Cleaning of mother and new born baby:
After delivery the new born baby and the mother are cleaned with repid water and
are wiped with dry cloth by the midwife or by attendant elderly women.
Rites on the day of birth:
On the first day of birth no special rite is performed. Only the 'Lumajuk' and 'Kumajuk'
give a nick name to the new born baby according to the name of the day of birth,
Besides, wine and food are offered to the 'Lumajuk' and Kumajuk'. The practice
of name giving on lie first day by Lumajuk and Kumajuk is totally uncommon among
the urban Tripuris. In the interior area on the fifth or seventh day after the
birth of a baby the fallen umbilical cord along with ash of the oven used in the
lying room is burned under the earth in the north or west side of the house. By
the side of it a place is cleaned to keep some mustard, raw turmeric etc. They
call it 'Thapla khibio'.
Period of unholiness:
The period of unholiness among the Tripuris is fixed for eight days on the ninth
day, they become holy again. But among the Tripuri in urban areas the period of
unholiness fixed for the relatives of the new born baby is a period of twelve
days except the mother and her new born baby. In the case of male child the
mother and her son will remain in unholiness upto twenty days. In the case of
female issue the period tended upto twenty nine days.
In remote places the
observation of 'Suryadarsan' takes place on the ninth day from the day of birth
irrespective of sex. In urban areas (lie foregoing observation has to be done on
twenty first day from the day of birth in the case of male issue. Whereas the
same observation take place in the case of female issue on the thirtieth day
from the day of birth.
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Prohibitions and Taboos during the period of unholiness:
During the period of unholiness the mother is tabooed to do any household work.
The whole family is prohibited to join any socio-religious ceremonies, Even at
house they are not permitted to observe any worship or any religious
festivities. The community worship or village worship i strictly prohibited
during such unholiness in any family in the village doe to birth of a child.
The mother and her new born baby are massaged with tepid mustered oil by the
midwife or by any elderly woman. If any ulcer is found inside the mouth of a new
born child a little sanctified honey is fed. For any trouble of the child at
time a little water sanctified by the Ochai with mantras is given to the baby.
On the day of delivery of the child the mother is offered to eat cooked rice
with two types of curry i.e. chicken or fish and a bitter curry. This practice
is absolutely found absent among the Tripuris who have become urbanised. In
urban areas they are not allowed to eat cooked rice. meat, fish etc. at least
for three days. Instead they are offered milk bread, grain etc.
When the period of unholiness is over the barber shaves the beard and cuts the
nails of the relatives of the family. He shaves the hair of the new horn baby or
sometimes touches the hair with the razor. There after child and the mother are
given a bath. During the bath the mother washes her head with a combination of
dust, mustard seeds, undried turmeric, gila (bean) and water of ashes etc. On
this day after the worship of 'Wathop' deity, the drinking water offered to the
aforesaid deity in a bamboo pipe is also sprinkled on the mother, the child, and
the 'Kumajuk' for purification. The holy water is also sprayed in and outside
the dwelling house for purification of the residential quarters.
On the ninth day, the
Tripuris in the rural area observe the 'Surya Darsan' and 'Rice feeding'
ceremony collectively. On that very day first of all they worship the deity
'Wathop'. In this worship four roosters, undried rice, tulsi leaf, banana leaf
and two eggs are required. The water which is offered to the deity 'Wathop' in a
bamboo pipe is sprinkled by the Ochai over the houses of that family. After the
worship of the 'Wathop' they observe another puja at the bathing place in the
name of the river deity. In this puja undried rice, tulsi leaf, and banana leaf
are required. If possible, the blood of a he-goat is required to be poured on
the undried rice and the head of the sacrificed he-goat is offered to the deity.
Thereafter another puja is
performed on the piece of a tree (Khamplai) where the clothes are washed. On
that piece of the tree a banana leaf is placed. The Ochai keeps some undried
rice on the leaf and gives the white portion of an egg by breaking it with
enchanting spells. Afterwards an egg is offered in the name of the sun and the
moon. In all the foregoing worships a little fermented rice (by which liquor is
prepared) along with water is offered to the deities in a bamboo pipe. And a
bottle of liquor is offered to the deities. The Ochai returns to the house and
keeps two pots of rice beer (chandari) by enchanting spells. Afterwards, two
pots filled with wine is presented to the priest. The priest (Ochai) drinks it.
In the second time two pots of drink are offered by the father of the child to
the Ochai with salutation and he enquires of the Ochai about the future of the
child and the puja that has to be performed. If anything is found wrong with the
puja or any defect of the child which may appear in the distant future the Ochai
advises courses to be adopted. Now the (Ochai) drinks half of the offered wine
and distributes the rest among the participants who are younger in age than he.
In the third case, the drink is to be had by the 'Sardar' or 'Choudhuri'
(Village headman). In this occasion if the Choudhury happens to be younger than
others that would not matter. After him other participants will drink serially
according to age. After wine, begins the drinking of rice beer (Langi). In this
occasion also the senior most person will take first, then the others who attend
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By then, a woman brings the
new born baby from the house to the courtyard covering it with a piece of new
cloth. Another woman holds an umbrella over the new born baby. On this occasion
both the women wear new clothes. The woman who holds umbrella utter 'Ulu' sound.
Now the new horn baby is to salute the 'Wathop' deity i.e. he is shown to the
deity and afterwards some earth is to be dug with a chopper by the hand of the
new born baby. In this occasion the chopper is just touched by the hand of the
baby. The woman who carries the baby comes to the door of the house with the
baby. The mother of the child then washes the feet of that woman who carries the
child and lets her sit on a mat with the child. The Ochai takes some earth,
paddy, durba, cotton etc. and throws them in the western side after revolving
them three times around the head of the child. In the second time the Ochai
observes the same thing in similar way. In the third time he takes an egg, sonic
earth, paddy, durba, cotton etc. and do the same. In the last and fourth time
the Ochai, taking paddy, burba, earth, and a little water from a vessel gives
them to the head of the child as a sort of blessings. The Ochai afterwards warms
up his hand in the flame of the lighted lamp and touches the face of the child
with that hand. Belief goes that the future of the child will be as bright as
the flame of the light. The Ochai files a stone with a chopper over the head of
the child and blesses the minor to live as long as the stone.
Name giving ceremony:
When the blessings by the Ochai is over, the name giving ceremony takes place.
The persons who are interested to give name to the new born child, individually
light a lamp in the name of their personal choice. The name associated with the
lamp that burns to the last is selected for the child. The rites of this name
giving ceremonies are also observed in remote places even in the present days.
In the early days the name of a new born baby used to be given according to the
guardians' choice. This name giving ceremony is observed on the ninth day i. e.
on the day of 'Surya Darsan'.
But this name giving custom
is no longer in vogue among the urban Tripuris. The rites which is observed by
the urban Tripuris is quite different. Here, on the sixth day from the day of
the birth they observe the name giving rituals. In the evening a seat is
arranged in the name of the god 'Chitragupta'. In front of that seat a vessel is
kept along with mango leaves. An ink pot filled with milk is placed there and a
pen made of reed is kept by its side. A white khata is also placed. Now the
names are written on banyan leaf. Only name is to be written on a single leaf. 'lhe
names which are given must consist of odd numbers of letter i.e. live, seven or
nine letters. On that occasion the child wears new cloth. In- sense, oil lamp,
with as many wicks as the names are proposed, are kept then'. The lamp burns
with ghee or mustard oil.
The names which are written
in the banyan leaves arc placed tinder the burning lamp in a cyclic way. The
wicks of the lighted lamps and the tips of the leaves are placed in such a way
that the tip of a leaf and a wick of the lamp coincide. Thereafter the lamp is
to be lighted. An offering is offered for the sake of the god 'Chitrangupta'. A
banyan leaf written with Sanskrit sloka is given in the offering by a Brahmin
belonging to the Acharya community. The wicks arc to be burnt through out the
night. Among the lighted wicks the one which flames very bright, shows that, its
corollary name is selected. Another name is taken from the wick which horns to
the last. The brightest and the longest are chosen.
Rice feeding ceremony:
Though the child is completely incapable of eating rice on the ninth day yet the
rural Tripuris observe the rice feeding ceremony on that very day. On that very
day five types of curry are prepared. The curries are of fish, dry fish,
chicken, a sort of arum and a boiled egg. Rice with those curries is offered to
the child three times. In each time of offering they utter 'Mai Chakrak'. As a
matter of fact when the child is able to cat rice they do not observe any
special rice feeding ceremony. They call the rice feeding ceremony in their
dialect as 'Abul Suo'.
The urban Tripuris actually observe the rice feeding
ceremony in the sixth or eighth month in the case of male child. It is observed
in the seventh or ninth month in the case of a female child. Among the rural
Tripuris, after the rice feeding ceremony another rite is performed. In the case
of female child, the child is to touch weaving instruments, spud etc. In the
case of a male child, the child is to touch chopper, musical instruments etc.
Now-a-days instead of these articles they give book, pen, khata, etc. to touch.
Thereafter, a little mustard oil is rubbed on the child and the mother. After
then, other assembled members rub the mustard oil.
Khumchakkara (Jangali Puja):
A special puja is held for the welfare of the child after nine days from the day
of birth according to their suitable time and scope. This puja is mainly
observed by the Tripuris of the Sadar North. Four number of chickens are
sacrificed in this puja. The blood of three sacrificed chickens is poured on the
undried rice offered in front of the 'Jangali' deity. The blood of the other
sacrificed chicken is poured on the undried rice kept for the 'Burasa' matai
Now, a curry is prepared with
water filtered from ash in a bamboo pipe. Rice is cooked in another bamboo pipe.
A special curry is prepared with a combination of 'Kauo' leaf (a kind of tree
leaf), twig of 6 matha' leaf tree, leaf of Lobhiya (sabai in Kok Borok) and
prawn etc. within a bamboo pipe. These three bamboo pipes with cooked rice and
curries are kept along with the three sacrificed chickens.
Afterwards, the Ochai without
looking back takes a bamboo pipe filled with cooked articles. He touches it
first and then breaks it open to keep it with the rice besmeared with the blood
of the sacrificed chickens where the three sacrificed chickens are lying. The
same manner is followed for all the rest of the bamboo pipes filled up with
different cooked articles. Through this aforesaid way the Ochai understands the
future nature and character of the child.
Further more, two vessels of
rice beer and wine are given with the offering of the worship. Before offering
the wine and rice beer to the deities they tie a piece of cloth on the tip of
the bamboo splits planted in four corners. On that cloth a thread ball and a
gilla (a kind of wild seed) are kept and the Ochai chants a spell by stirring
them. The Ochai, after completing the worship, conies back to the house of the
child's father and pours water on the rice beer vessel. After pouring water on
the rice beer vessel the Ochai examines the perfection of the worship. Then a
feast or drink is arranged for the assembled persons.
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