Literature of North East India: Oral Narratives as Documents for the Study of Ritualization in the Darlong Community of Tripura

Benjamina Darlong, Tripura University, Tripura, India


The abstract attempt to read into rituals of the Darlong community of Tripura pitched on different phenomenal vines. The Darlong believed that there exists spirits, shadows and supernatural elements in every living and non-living body of nature. In the orature of the Darlong community, there are many such instances where the people response the natural happenings and old practices that are rooted in the oral narratives there by developing their rites and rituals. This article will investigate into the oral narratives and the evolution of certain rite and ritual that are either abandoned or carried out till today. However, it must be remembered that the Darlong, accepting the Christian creed in 1919, no longer preserved the belief today.

[Keywords: Darlong community, ritualization, oral narrative, Christianity]
  1. Introduction

Oral narratives are cultural materials and documents transmitted verbally from one generation to another in speeches or songs that later take up the form of folktales, folksongs, ballads, sayings or even chants. No doubt, the origin of this tradition may date back to some stone age when men knew not the art of writing yet watermark their every deed for their forth coming generations. It might also have originated in circumstances where a grandmother or a grandfather attempts to quench the thirst of their grandchildren about the outer world which according to them is a world full of adventures and strange happenings. In this way, it is possible for a society to transcend materials of the past across time. The Darlong oral tradition records the lives of the common people, their beliefs, simple joy and sorrow, customs and their encounter with strange forces of nature. It can be considered borrowing its accounts from an individual’s or group’s cultures functioning as a mediator to political decisions, validates conduct, release emotions and evaluate their social administration. The general themes of the tales are adventures, love, beauty hunting, hero tales, legendary tales, revenge and vengeance. The tales also manipulate the customs, rites and rituals of the people, beliefs faculty to form the plots and sub-plots or the wardrobe of it. On the other hand, they also records all the notable events of the past embedded with thought provoking stories revealing the historical, cultural, inhabitation, religious aspect and names of the kings, queens and chieftains of the community in the past. The folksongs also memorized almost all the drive made by the people. For instance, song for dead, song for harvesting, word play, song for encouragement, song celebrating success, song sang on their usual way of challenging the evil spirits, songs celebrating their hunting spirits and their way of courting their beloved etc.

The Darlong community does not have any written document. Hence, the community preserved their traditions and cultures through oral tradition and artifacts, which too is in a dwindling state. Every materials with which the community define its identity, existence and world where he is living in, taking from the anthropological myth to fairy tales are transmitted from generation to generation through oral tradition. Nevertheless, there are some writings maintained by early educated person on different subjects and those documents which the Village Council maintained in regard to their respective villages called ‘Khuahniangsia’, which of course is a product of later age. To begin with, the Darlong literature had its genesis of documentation with ‘Parkam’ (a collection of nine folktales) and followed by ‘Tian Thephung Bu’ (collection of folktales) by Pu. Siamkunga Darlong, Darchawi. Beyond these, there are monthly or weekly bulletins such as ‘Darlong Eng’, ‘Varna Sirbi, ‘Saibual Rawl’, ‘Vanglai’ etc. which records sermons, tales, songs, poetry, jokes, sayings, fictional stories and articles giving an explanation on varieties of topics like the ‘Tharlak Kut’ and other fest of the community. In addition, there are some referential writings of Holy Bible’s testaments in Darlong language like ‘Johana Hrilfiahna’ (reference on the Gospel of John) by Rev. Tlanglawma Darlong of Darchawi and ‘The Darlong of Tripura’ by Letthuama Darlong through Directorate of Tribal Research Institute, Govt. of Tripura. Recently, a successful effort on audio recording was made from Mr. Muana Darlong and as a result, the community could document their folksongs in ‘Ngaibang’. In the latest Tharlak Kut held on 11th– 12th Jan. 2013, Venue; Lamkhuang Khuahlui, effort has been made to revive the oral tradition of the community….Access Full Text of the Article