The Hajong is a tribal ethnic group in the Indian Subcontinent. The Hajong are the fourth majority tribe in Meghalaya. Hajong people are spread out across North East India West Bengal and Bangladesh. Majority of the Hajongs are settled in India. At present their population is more than 150,000 in India and 50,000 in Bangladesh. Hajongs are predominantly rice farmers. Hajong have the status of a Scheduled Tribe in India.
Clans of Hajong Tribes
A clan is called Nikni in Hajong. Hajong Tribes are divided into five clans :
Hajongs are monogamous. They follow the exogamy fully. Marriages within the same clan are barred. There is no dowry, but ‘Khalti' or 'pon' the bride price (reasonable money) should be paid by the brides family. The Hajongs are monogamous. Second marriage in presence of the first wife is rare. Divorce in the Hajong community is very rare and child marriage is completely prohibited.
Birth in the family is celebrated by a purification ceremony after one week of the birth in case the baby is a male and for female the period is five days only. Name giving ceremony is also celebrated. Another ceremony is observed when the child attains five year, the traditional headman and the village priest initiates the child to the Hajong society by chanting some mantras in his/her ears. Without this ceremony the child can not enter into wed-lock.
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.
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. 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.
The Hajong has their own language which is in an Eastern Indo-Aryan language the mixture form of Assamese and Bengali. It is believed that they had their own dialect which has unfortunately disappeared. The Hajong Tribes have their own dialect. It is an Indo-Aryan language with Tibeto-Burman roots. More than 175,000 ethnic Hajongs residing in Meghalaya, Assam, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh speak in this language. They write it in Latin and Assamese script. Originally Hajong was a Tibeto-Burman language but later Bengali language and Assamese language were added to it. The Assamese script is mostly used for writing Hajong.
Dress of Hajong Tribes
The Hajong Tribes usually wear traditional dresses with their own unique style. Traditionally womenfolk chiefly wear 'Patin' or 'Rangapatin' used for covering the upper and lower part of the body from the underarm to the ankle similar to Bodo and Rabha tribes. It is a bright striped red dress with alternate layers of different colours between red stripes called 'Theak'. Patin is woven by women at their family looms known as 'Bana-gora.' It is operated with hands and does not require the usage of feet. The upper part of the body of the women is covered by a home woven cotton scarf known as pasra or Agrun. Modern Hajong females sometimes wear 'Patin' to cover the lower part of the body from waist to ankle similar to Garo and Mizo tribes.
The men folk cover their bodies with a home made piece of cloth known as Ningti which is bigger than Gammsa i.e. a hand towel and during winter use a scarf and 'Kampesh'.
Traditional ornaments worn by Hajong women are Katabaju, Boela, Noat, Koromphul, Kankureya, Haarsohra or Chandrahar, Gujurati, Harsara, Gunjar, Kairu. They also use silver made nose ring called Nalas.
The Hajongs have their own musical instruments; some of them are Dhuluk, Khul, Rasamandali, Dotara etc.
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.
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. 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
- Diyao ghor - room for daily prayer and worship
In addition to the implements needed for rice farming, households have many bamboo fishing implements. 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. 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
Traditional Arts and Crafts
Hajon Art includes Birapat-Chhitâ which are painted on a wall of the Airo Ghor by Airo(s) on the Occasion of Wedding Ceremonies. In Birapat-Chhita aslo called 'Chan Bila Akawa' the Sun, Moon, Stars, birds, boats and palanquins are painted with powdered rice called pithli, Sindoor and Kajal. Other works of art is done in the preparation of Merr for Maroi Pujâ of the serpent Goddess Kani Diyao. In Merr various Gods and Goddesses and other auspicious objects are painted, intended for the worship of Kani Diyao.
Festivals of Hajong Tribes
The Hajong Tribes celebrate Hindu festivals like Durga Puja and Kamakhya Puja. They also celebrate few festivals of their own culture. A traditional festival is celebrated in honour of the Bastu, Paabni and other group of deities. It is conducted by a Diyaoshi or Nongtang, a village priest. Bastu puja does not involve idol worship and is celebrated in a particular location outside the village premises. 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. The Hajongs also celebrate their pre monsoon harvest festival known as 'Bishwâ.' Padma puja, Kartik puja, are also performed.
Hajong Tribes also practise some of their traditional religious rituals. The Hajongs believe in some evil spirits like Machang Diyao, Jarang Diyao, Bhut, Maila, Jukhini, Daini etc. They adore and worship different gods and goddess like Kali, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kamakhya, Manasa, Basanti and others. Kartik puja among the Hajongs are known as Kâtkâ puja and Manasa puja is known as Kani diyau puja. The day of Lakshmi puja is referred to as 'Kujâi Ghor' . Bastu puja takes place in a fixed location outside the village and does not involve idol worship. Tortoises and pigeons are sacrificed for Bastu.
Below are some Hajong proverbs with both literal and meaning-based translations
- 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'.
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- List of notified Scheduled Tribes
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