The people of Tripura are fond of festivals. Like West Bengal, it has ‘baro mase tero parban’ which indicate the festival mood of the people. In fact, festivals are part and parcel of the cultural life of Tripura. There are various tribes like Riangs, Chakmas, Mongs and also a lot of Bengalees who constitute the majority of its 38 lakh population. The mixed type of population has naturally contributed to the variety of festivals of this small State, They are closely related to nature of forests, rivers and dales of this hilly country and are meant to appease the gods and goddesses of Tripura.
Kharchi or Kerchi is one of the greatest festivals of Tripura. It is specially a mixed type of festival of tribal and Hindu character in which fourteen gods and goddesses are worshipped. These fourteen gods and goodesses are Hara, Uma, Hari, Baui, Kumar, Gaupa, Bidhi, Ma, Himadri, Abdhi, Shili, Kom, Lakshmi, and Budachha. ‘Kharchi’ starts on the full moon day of the month of ‘Ashar’ and continues for a week. The worship of the gods and goddesses is performed by the priest called ‘Chautai’. Goats, buffalos, pigeons, etc. are sacrificed at the altar of the gods and goddesses. A fair is held at Khayerpur (the place of worship) near Agartala on the occasion of this festival. It is followed by ‘Kher’ or ‘Kherpuja’ which is observed on the first new moon after a fortnight of the ‘Kharchi’ festival. The ‘Kherpuja’ is performed by a priest called ‘Chandai’. These two are the great festivals of Tripura observed for the welfare of all the inhabitants of the State.
Other noteworthy festivals of Tripura are the ‘Nadia’—observed on the 7th day of ‘Baisakh’, and the ‘Gang Puja’ observed at ‘Tirtha Mukha’, the source of the river Gomati, where thousands of people assemble for a holy bath.
However, ‘Kharchi’—like the Durga puja of West Bengal—is regarded as the national festival of Tripura. Different tribes and communities participate in it. They embrace together and wish one another success and happiness and thus paves the way of unity among the people of Tripura.
Not only that, most of the festivals are meant for pacifying the forces of Nature and protecting men from deadly diseases. They are also accompanied with tribal dances and songs which give us an idea of Tripura’s culture. Thus the festivals of Tripura provide a way out for unity of the people of the State.