Definitions

bodo

Bodo-Kachari

Bodo-Kachari 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.

Origins

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, Dihang, Dikhou, Dihing etc.---where di- means water in Tibeto-Burman.

Groups

Based on an 1881 census, there were 18 groups within the Kachari classification.

  1. Bodo
  2. Chutiya
  3. Dhimal
  4. Dimasa
  5. Garo
  6. Hajong
  7. Hojai
  8. Lalung
  9. Madani
  10. Mahalia
  11. Mech
  12. Moran
  13. Phulgaria
  14. Rabha
  15. Rajbangshi (Koch)
  16. Saraniya
  17. Solaimiya
  18. Tipra

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.

History

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.

References

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