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Bodo race, or just Kachari race (Assamese:কছাৰী) is a generic term applied to a number of ethnic groups, predominantly in Assam, speaking Tibeto-Burman languages or claiming a common ancestry. The name Bodo-Kachari was used in the past to refer to the Bodo people, one of the constituents of this umbrella group. It has to be kept in mind that when it is written only as "Bodo" then it means exclusively only the tribe Bodo a.k.a Mech but when it is written as "Bodo race" then it means all the cognate tribes of the Bodo tribe like Garo, Rabha, Dimasa, Sonowal Kacharis, Hajong, etc.
The term Bodo race was first used by B H Hodgson in 1847, to denote a group of languages, Grierson took this term to denote a section of the Assam-Burma group of the Tibeto-Burman speakers of the Sino-Tibetan speech family, which included the languages of (1) True Bodo (Kachari and Mech); (2) Rabha; (3) Lalung; (4) Dimasa (Hills Kachari); (5) Garo (6) Tripura and (7) Chutiya.
The term 'Bodo race' is used to denote a large number of tribes. In recent times, the tribe that was originally called Bodo-Kachari, are now being called Bodo. This contraction, from Bodo-kachari to Bodo, is widely accepted now.
They were first classified by S. Endle as the Kacharis. Here, Bodo is derived from Bod which means Tibet and Kachari is derived from Kachar meaning area near the river. 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 Dimasa language.("Ti/twi"-Tripuri language,"Dwi" in boro & "Chi" in garo)
Based on an 1881 census, there were 19 groups within the Kachari classification:
- Lalung (Tiwa)
- Sonowal Kacharis
- Tipra- Jamatia, Bru (Reangs), Mogs, Uchai, Noatia, Debbarma(tiprasa)
Some of the groups, such as Sutiya, Matak, Moran and Saraniya 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 Boro in central Assam; the Dimasa in Dima Hasao District (DHD) formerly North Cachar Hills, Nagaon district, Cachar district & Nagaland state and the Sonowal and Thengal in the eastern part of the Brahmaputra now represent the Kachari.
The Tripuri, Sutiya and 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. The Sonowal Kachari are also a branch of greater Kachari. They live in the districts of Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Dhemaji, Sivasagar, Lakhimpur, Golaghat and Jorhat.
State formations of the Bodo-Kachari people
- (Hodgson) took the word 'Bodo' from the Meches(Bodos) of Darjeeling district in 1846 while he was writing about them."(Narjinari 2000, p. 4)
- Grierson (1903) "Linguistic Survey of India" Vol III Part II p1.
- (Choudhury 2007)
- Grierson (1903) "Linguistic Survey of India" Vol III Part II p2.
- "The term Bodo is also used to denote a large number of tribes—the Garos of Meghalaya, Tippera of Tripura, and Boro Kachari, Koch, Rabha, Lalung, Dimasa, Hajong, Chitia, Deuri and Moran of Assam and other parts of Northeast (M N Brahma, "The Bodo-Kacharis of Assam---A brief Introduction) 1:1 (1983) p52" (George 1994, p. 878)
- "In present-day socio-political terminology the Bodo means the plain tribes of the Brahmaputra Valley known earlier as Bodo-Kachari." (Choudhury 2007, p. 1)
- "The media at the regional and national level; officials at the Centre and the state political parties of all hues and the people in general have accepted what may be termed as a contraction of the original denotion." (Choudhury 2007, p. 1)
- Burling, Robbins (2013). "The Tibeto-Burman Languages of Northeastern India". In LaPollo, Randy J. Sino-Tibetan languages. Routledge.
- Choudhury, Sujit (2007). The Bodos: Emergence and Assertion of an ethnic minority. Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study.
- Endle, Sidney (1911). The Kacharis. London: Macmillan and Co. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- Basu, Analabha (2003). "Ethnic India: A Genomic View, With Special Reference to Peopling and Structure". Genome Research 13 (10): 2277–2290. doi:10.1101/gr.1413403. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- Goerge, Sudhir Jacob (1994). "The Bodo Movement in Assam: Unrest to Accord". Asian Survey (University of California Press) 34 (10): 878–892.
- Narjinari, Hira Charan (2000). Reassertiveness of the Great Bodos.