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ETHNIC TRIBES of ASSAM: BODOS OF ASSAM

by subhankar karmakar

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The BODOS are an ethnic as well linguistic community, who had stepped at land of Assam as the earliest settlers on this land. They belonged to the Bodo-Kachari ethnic groups. Hence, they are closely related with the other descendants of the greater Bodo-Kachari family, like Mechs in western Assam, Dimasas and Hojais in the N.C. Hills district, Sonowal and Thengals in the eastern parts of the Brahmaputra valley. All of them are closely related together. Other groups from the bodo-kachari ethnicity have been either Hinduized (e.g. Koch, Sarania), or have developed separate identities (e.g. Garo).
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The Bodos represents one of the largest ethnic and linguistic groups of the Brahmaputra valley. Typical Bodo last names (surname) are Bargayary, Basumatary, Bodosa, Boro, Brahma, Bwiswmuthiary, Dwimary, Goyary, Hazowary, Ishlary, Ishwary, Khaklary, Mushahary, Narzary, Narzihary,Narzinary, Owary, Sargwary, Sibigry and Wary. The 1971 census report indicated Bodos being the 8th largest scheduled-tribe (ST) group in India. Close to 1 million people speak Bodo language.

The Bodo language is derived from Tibeto-Burmese family of languages. Although, Roman script and Assamese script were used in the past. Recently, Bodos adopted the Devanagari script. According to some scholars, the Bodo language had a script of its own called Deodhai.The language is unique as it doesn't contain any vowels.
Very early on, Bodos may have introduced rice cultivation, tea plantation, pig and poultry farming, and silkworm rearing in the North East India. The traditional favourite drink of the Bodos is Zu Mai (Zu:wine, Mai:rice). Rice is a staple of the Bodos and is often accompanied by a non vegetarian dish such as fish or pork. Traditionally Bodos are non-vegetarians.
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Weaving is another integral part of Bodo culture. Many families rear their own silkworms, the cocoons of which are then spun into silk. Bodo girls learn to weave from a young age, and no Bodo courtyard is complete without a loom. Most women weave their own Dokhnas (the traditional dress of the Bodo women) and shawls. The Bodos are also expert craftsmen in bamboo products.
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Religion practised by BODO people
In the past, Bodos worshipped their forefathers. In recent years, Bodos practice Bathouism, Hinduism. Bathouism is a form worshipping forefathers called Obonglaoree. The siju plant (belonging to the Euphorbia genus), is taken as the symbol of Bathou and worshiped.
In the Bodo Language Ba means five and thou means deep. Five is a significant number in the Bathou religion. A clean surface near home or courtyard could be an ideal for worship. Usually, one pair of Betelnut called 'goi' and betel leaf called 'pathwi' could be used as offering. On some occasion, worship offering could include rice, milk, and sugar. For the Kherai Puja, the most important festival of the Bodos, the altar is placed in the rice field. Other important festivals of the Bodos include Hapsa Hatarnai, Awnkham Gwrlwi Janai, Bwisagu and Domashi.
__________sarpyl


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