is a generic term applied to a number of ethnic groups predominantly in Assam
speaking Tibeto-Burman languages
or claiming a common mythical ancestry. They have prominent Mongoloid features with high cheek bones, slit eyes and a slight growth of hair in the body and scant beard.
They were first classified by S. Endle as the Kacharis. Here Bodo is derived from Bod
which is Tibet
and Kachari is derived from kassar
meaning the foothills of the Himalayas. They are considered to have reached the Brahmaputra
valley via Tibet and settled in the foothills of the eastern Himalayan range which includes the whole of Assam, Tripura
, North Bengal
and parts of Bangladesh
. That the Bodo-Kacharis were early colonizers of the river valleys is taken from the fact that most of the rivers in the Brahmaputra valley today carry Tibeto-Burman names---Dibang
means water in Tibeto-Burman.
Based on an 1881 census, there were 18 groups within the Kachari classification.
- Rajbangshi (Koch)
Some of the groups, such as Chutiya, Moran, Saraniya and Koch consider themselves as lower caste Hindus. Other groups, such as the Garo, Rabha, Lalung and Hajong, having been isolated from the parental stock, have established separate identities. With the exception of the Garo, which is still a matrilineal society, the other groups have given up the rules of matrilineal society.
The Mech in Western Assam, the Bodo in central Assam, the Dimasa and Hojai to the north of Cachar Hills, and the Sonowal and Thengal in the eastern part of the Brahmaputra now represent the Kachari.
The Tripuri, Chutiya and the Dimasa had established powerful kingdoms in the past. The Tripuri Kings had even defeated the mughals and the Burmese kingdoms in the past. Today, the Bodos, the Tripuris, and the Garos have established a strong political and ethnic identity and are developing their language and literature.