𝐁𝐫𝐞𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐠𝐞: 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐒𝐢𝐠𝐧𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐄𝐭𝐡𝐧𝐨-𝐌𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐕𝐚𝐥𝐮𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐋𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐢 𝐁𝐰𝐭𝐰𝐤, 𝐓𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐚’𝐬 𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐑𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐁𝐫𝐞𝐰

By Maria Debbarma

Langi bwtwk, the traditional rice brew of Tripura, has been an integral part of the region’s culture and heritage for centuries. This fermented beverage holds immense significance for the ethnic communities of Tripura, economically, culturally, and spiritually. Rooted in a profound sense of traditional knowledge regarding nature and natural resources, the local rice brew has become inseparable from indigenous life.

The diverse communities in Tripura each have their version of the rice beer, such as arak in Reang, chuwak in Debbarma, Jamatia, Koloi, and Tripuri, and zu in Molsom. Despite the variations, the fundamental brewing process remains consistent. Interestingly, langi bwtwk shares similarities with some traditional drinks from other parts of the world, like shaosingiju and laochao of China, tapuy, brem bali, and tape-ketan of Indonesia, khaomak of Thailand, tapai pulul of Malaysia, chongju and takju of Korea, and sake of Japan, which all involve a basic fermentation process.

The historical roots of langi bwtwk run deep, with evidence of its making and usage dating back through generations. Today, it holds a central place in the day-to-day life of the Tripuri people and numerous other communities in the region. No festivals, marriages, rituals, or funerals are considered complete without this traditional rice beer. It brings people together, fostering a sense of community and shared identity.

Beyond its cultural importance, langi bwtwk is believed to possess ethno-medicinal properties. Some studies suggest that the beverage can relieve headaches, diarrhea, fever, colds, body aches, and urinary tract infections. It is also consumed to address menstruation problems among tribal women. The medicinal value of langi bwtwk depends on the plant species used for the starter cake or chuwan belep, showcasing the close connection between traditional knowledge and natural remedies.

Unfortunately, in recent times, the traditional art of brewing langi bwtwk has faced challenges. Legal and economic constraints have led to a drastic reduction in its daily production. Nowadays, it is mainly brewed for special rituals and festivals. As a result, the younger generation is gradually losing touch with the traditional knowledge and techniques of rice beer brewing. The decline is also attributed to a lack of interest and ignorance of the younger population regarding their cultural heritage.

Preserving the knowledge and practice of langi bwtwk is essential not only for its cultural significance but also for safeguarding the traditional medicinal wisdom associated with the beverage. Efforts to revive interest in traditional values and beliefs, along with supporting sustainable and responsible production, can help ensure the continuation of this time-honored tradition. By celebrating and cherishing the heritage of langi bwtwk, Tripura and its ethnic communities can keep their cultural identity alive for generations to come.

Maria Debbarma is Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science, MBB College.

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3 thoughts on “𝐁𝐫𝐞𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐠𝐞: 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐒𝐢𝐠𝐧𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐄𝐭𝐡𝐧𝐨-𝐌𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐕𝐚𝐥𝐮𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐋𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐢 𝐁𝐰𝐭𝐰𝐤, 𝐓𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐚’𝐬 𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐑𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐁𝐫𝐞𝐰”

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