Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has of late made it his style to use the Risa, a customary handwoven cloth used by Tripura’s indigenous tribal communities.
Risa is one of the three parts of customary Tripuri female attire, the other two being the Rignai and Rikutu.
The Risa is essentially a customary handwoven cloth and is used as a head gear, stole, female upper cloth or presented to honour a distinguished recipient.
The Rignai is primarily used to cover lower part of the body and literally translates into ‘to wear’. The Rituku covers the upper half of the body, wrapping it all around.
However, it is also used like a ‘chunri’ or a ‘pallu’ of the Indian saree. It is also used to cover the head of newly married Tripuri women.
Risa plays a host of crucial social utilities. Adolescent Tripuri girls are first given risa to wear when she reaches 12-14 years in an event called Risa Sormani.
Risa is primarily used as a breastcloth and is woven in different colourful designs. However, it is also used in religious festivals like the Garia Puja, a customary festival of the tribal communities.
It is used as a head turban by male folks during weddings and festivals, as a cummerbund over dhoti, head scarf by young girls and boys, muffler during winters. The cloth is even used as a makeshift baby carrier on the mother’s back.
In the ancient days, they used to judge a woman’s intelligence in these communities by her woven Rignai and Risa designs.