Hajong

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The Hajong is a tribal ethnic group in the Indian Subcontinent.[1] The Hajong are the fourth majority tribe in Meghalaya.[citation needed] Hajong people are spread out across northeast India and Bangladesh. At present their population is more than 150,000 in India and 50,000 in Bangladesh.[2] Hajongs are predominantly rice farmers although some also find work as day labourers or by selling firewood and even in government services.[3] Hajong have the status of a Scheduled Tribe in India.[4]

Religion[edit]

Hajongs once practiced an animist religion, but now consider themselves to be Hindus as their religion included many ideas and deities of Hinduism. Some of the animistic worship and beliefs are still prevalent among the Hajong society.[5]

Geographical distribution[edit]

The Hajong people are spread out across northeast India and Bangladesh with the majority of the population on the India side of the border. In India, Hajongs are found in both the Garo and Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, largely along the South-West Garohills District of Meghalaya and Bangladesh border. They also live in the Dhubri and Goalpara districts of lower Assam, Dhemaji and other districts of upper Assam and into Arunachal Pradesh.[5] In Bangladesh, Hajongs are found in the northern Dhaka division, although there are unconfirmed reports of some Hajong living in Chittagong division. The narrow strip of borderland that stretches from Sherpur district in the west as far Sunamganj district in the east can be considered the southern outpost of the greater Hajong community.[3]

Language[edit]

Main article: Hajong language

The Hajong language is an Eastern Indo-Aryan language and closely related to Assamese and Bengali.

Culture[edit]

Hajong women can be easily identified by their brightly striped red dress called a Pathin& "Phula Agon". Traditionally, and in many present day villages, women are accomplished weavers who make their own Pathin,Phula Agon,Phula Kompes, Gamsa and their household's clothing.[6]

Traditional Hajong houses consist of separate buildings centered around a courtyard. Floors are earthen and walls are made of split bamboo plastered with cow dung.[7] The buildings in a Hajong house are

  • Bhat ghor - dining hall and also bedroom
  • Akhli ghor - kitchen
  • Kasri ghor - dormitory with provision for guests
  • Khopra (Jora) ghor - bedroom for a married son or daughter
  • Chang ghor - granary
  • Dheki ghor - husking house
  • Guli ghor - cattle shed
  • Deo ghor - room for daily prayer and worship

In addition to the implements needed for rice farming, households have many bamboo fishing implements.[8] The staple food is rice eaten with lentils and vegetables. For special occasions, rice is ground to a powder and used to make steamed or deep fried cakes called pitha. Tortoise is traditionally the favorite meat.[9] The traditional hajong dishes are

  • Dingpora - A type of sweet rice cooked in special type of Bamboo
  • Lebahak - Made from ground rice
  • Bukni Bhat - Fermented Rice
  • Bisi Bhat - A type of sticky & sweet rice cooked on vapour
  • Bhatuwahak - Curry cooked with rice flour & rotten fish
  • Putamas - Small fish cooked by wrapping banana leave.
  • Chonsahak - Small quantity of vegetable cooked for special guest
  • Topla Bhat - Rice wrapped with banana leaves
  • Kharpani - Vegetable boiled with dryfish and Soda
  • Chungahak - Curry cooked in bamboo with its mouth air tied

Festivals[edit]

In addition to common Hindu festivals of the region such as Durga Puja, Hajongs celebrate some festivals unique to their culture. One type of traditional festival in honor of the Bastu, Paabni & group of deities is conducted by a village priest called a Deoshi or Nongtang.[10] Bastu puja takes place in a fixed location outside the village and does not involve idol worship. Tortoises and pigeons are sacrificed for Bastu.[11]

Another festival is called chormaga in Mymensingh and chorkhela in India. Chorkhela is celebrated during the month of October in South-West Garohills Districts of Meghalaya. During this festival, troops of youth go around from house to house in the village, or from village to village, playing music and acting out stories, sometimes from the Ramayana. The parties receive some rice or money in return for their entertainment. Since every person, young and old, comes out to watch the fun, this is considered a chance to check out prospective brides and grooms.[12]

Proverbs[edit]

Below are some Hajong proverbs with both literal and meaning-based translations[13]

  • Bibak bangosla tengol nahoi বিবাক বাংশলা তেঙল নহয়
All bamboo cannot be made into tie strips. Or 'All that glitters isn't gold'.
  • Gasoni kaholra, otoni telra গাছনি কাহলৰা, ওঠনি তেলৰা
While the jackfruit is still on the tree, there is already oil on the lip. Or 'Don't count your chickens before they are hatched'.
  • Huwâr kopalni condon phota শুৱৗৰ কুপালনি চন্দন ফোটা
A religious mark on a pig's forehead. Or 'A wolf in sheep's clothing'.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Hajong". Bangladesh News. 27 March 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2011. 
  2. ^ The Joshua Project www.joshuaproject.net 2011
  3. ^ a b Ahmad, S., A. Kim, S. Kim, and M. Sangma. (2005). The Hajong of Bangladesh: A sociolinguistic survey. http://www.sil.org/resources/publications/entry/42943.
  4. ^ List of notified Scheduled Tribes
  5. ^ a b Kinny, E. and I. Zeliang. (2005). A Sociolinguistic survey among the Hajong of India. Unpublished manuscript.
  6. ^ Hajong, B. (2002). The Hajongs and their struggle. Assam, Janata Press. p. 20.
  7. ^ Hajong, B. (2002). The Hajongs and their struggle. Assam, Janata Press. p. 11.
  8. ^ Hajong, B. (2002). The Hajongs and their struggle. Assam, Janata Press. p. 14.
  9. ^ Hajong, B. (2002). The Hajongs and their struggle. Assam, Janata Press. p. 16.
  10. ^ Hajong, B. (2002). The Hajongs and their struggle. Assam, Janata Press. p. 41.
  11. ^ Hajong, B. (2002). The Hajongs and their struggle. Assam, Janata Press. p. 42.
  12. ^ Hajong, B. (2002). The Hajongs and their struggle. Assam, Janata Press. p. 44-45.
  13. ^ Phillips, D. S. (2007). "On Cirâ and Pirâ: Hajong Proverbs in Translation." In J. Prodhani, Ed. Protocol: Journal of Translation, Creative and Critical Writings, Volume 1, Number 2. Tura, North East Hill University: 63-74.