Thanga Darlong held the distinction of being the final practitioner in the state who played the Rosem, an indigenous flute-like musical instrument crafted from bamboo .
Renowned tribal musician and Padma Shri awardee Thanga Darlong, the last practitioner of the indigenous tribal musical instrument called rosem in Tripura, passed away at his residence in the state’s Unakoti district at the age of 103. Thanga Darlong had been unwell and was hospitalized for age-related ailments on November 15.
Tripura Chief Minister Dr. Manik Saha expressed his condolences, stating, “I am deeply saddened by the passing away of legendary Rasem player Padmashri Thanga Darlong Ji. With his passing away, an irreparable void has been created in the cultural world of the state.”
Thanga Darlong, born on July 20, 1920, in Tripura’s Muruai village, was a master of the rosem, a bamboo-made flute-like indigenous musical instrument. He received his initial training in folk music from his father Hakvunga Darlong and later honed his skills under the guidance of music maestro Darthuama Darlong. In recognition of his significant contribution to flute-based music, he was conferred with the Padma Shri in 2019.
Throughout his life, Thanga Darlong actively participated in various traditional festivals within his community and played a crucial role in mentoring numerous indigenous artists in the art of playing the rosem. His influence extended beyond regional borders, as he traveled extensively within India and internationally, including Japan, showcasing the rosem .
Thanga Darlong’s passing marks the end of an era, as he was the last individual proficient in playing the rosem. In acknowledgment of his dedication to preserving indigenous music in Northeast India, he received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2014. His life and contributions were also documented in the film “Tree of Tongues in Tripura,” directed by National Award winner Joshy Joseph in 2016.