Dissertation Abstracts

The Darlong of Tripura. An ethnographic study on the life and times of a tribe

Author: H Theresa Darlong , theresa.darlong@gmail.com
Department: Centre for the Study of Social System
University: Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
Supervisor: Dr A. Bimol Akoijam
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: India

Keywords: Ethnography , Darlong , tribe , socio-economic conditions
Areas of Research: Language and Society , Economy and Society , Institutional Ethnography

Abstract

The Darlong are small tribe and represent a minority community in Tripura. They are mainly found in the north-eastern part of Tripura in three districts, viz Dhalai, Unokoti and North Tripura. The Darlongs are numerically microscopic minority with a population of 8000 approx. in Tripura. Traditionally, the Darlongs adopt Jhum cultivation/shifting cultivators. Many of their traditional values, culture, songs, dances and hunting activities revolved around the cycles of shifting cultivation, known as Jhum. But the Darlongs call it as ‘loi’. Today, most of them have taken up agroforestry and horticultural plantation or orchard development (mainly cultivation of pineapple, areca nut, banana, citrus fruits, etc) as their main livelihoods in addition to wet rice cultivation and seasonal vegetables cultivation. A number of families have also taken rubber cultivation and tree plantation. The Darlongs have customary laws and practices to govern them and dispense their own affairs. The Darlongs village administration system were traditionally under the hereditary village chieftains(called lal) but are now replaced by a democratic body called Village Council with an elected Village Chairman and representatives. The Village Council in each Darlongs village is responsible for the community welfare, village administration and social governance including arbitration and dispute settlement in addition to maintenance of peace and harmony. The Village Councils are in turn linked to an apex council (known as Darlong Hnam Inzom or Darlong Peoples’Apex Council). Every village also has well organized youth body (called Thalai) traditionally assigned for village protection but are the volunteer force on all matters of community welfare including village cleanliness and hygiene, maintenance of village water sources and village footpaths ,conduct community recreation through promotion of sports and cultural events and any other community events (such as marriage in the community, burial of death, cultural events for welcoming important dignitaries in the village, responding to natural calamities within the village and neighboring other communities).In most cases, the Darlongs live in compact village giving feelings of brotherhood and good sense of cooperation. In fact, every Darlongs is called upon to inculcate a compelling code of social ethics, known as Tlawminngaina or Tlawmngaihna stand for the common good of the community above self and to be charitable and humane in all dispositions. Like any other traditional tribes in North East India, the Darlongs are also adopting changes and modernization, as much as they continue to value their traditions and customs. In recent years, the Darlongs have taken up education as their main means of progress. In the process many young boys and girls are leaving their villages for higher education in cities and towns. The Darlongs still continue to preserve their customs and tradition in the present times either in a forms of folklores, craft or oral traditions. Like any other developing society the contemporary Darlongs community is also challenged with various issues and problems. Some of these emerging areas of challenges and opportunities area women empowerment, youth advancement, economic and sustainable livelihood, access to education, environmental conservation, changing social values and governance system, promotion of recreation sports and culture, access to health and sanitation, and need for networking media and knowledge management and land alienation

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