Koch Rajbongshi people
Koch Rajbongshi community (also known as Kochrajbongshi and Koch) is a primitive, indigenous community of Assam. The people of this community is found in parts of Present Assam, West Bengal, Kishanganj in Bihar, Nepal, Meghalaya and Bangladesh.
Though the two terms "Koch" and "Rajbongshi" are used interchangeably today, "The Imperial Gazetteer of India" says, "Though the Kochs freely call them Rajbansis, it is believed (see Bengal Census Report, 1901, part I, pp. 382-83) that the two communities originally sprang from entirely different sources, the Kochs being of Mongoloid origin, while the Rajbansis are a Dravidian tribe who probably owned the name long before the Koch kings rose to power." In another place, the historical reference work adds,"The Koch tribe, though now in parts much intermixed with Dravidian stock, was probably at that time purely Mongolian and spoke a language closely allied to those of the Kacharis, Tipperas, Lalungs, Sutiyas, and Garos." Again in another place, it mentions, "The following castes are also numerically strong (as of 1901) : Kochs (222,000), Rajbansis (120,000), Kalitas (203,000), Nadiyals (195,000), Ahoms (178,000), Jugis (161,000), Kewats (149,000), and Sutiyas (86,000)." However, at present it is nearly impossible to differentiate these two communities of separate historical origins from each other. Today they are widely distributed over most of the plain districts of Assam. However, a heavy concentration is observed in the districts of Kamrup and Goalpara.
It is commonly believed that the Koch (Rajbansi) population forms a major detribalized group. According to Gait (1905) “In Assam proper, it (the word Koch) has become the name of a Hindu caste, into which are received the converts to Hinduism from the ranks of the Kachari, Lalung, Mikir and other tribes”. However, it is not known from which time the process of conversion started. It is viewed that major part of conversion took place following the preaching of Vaishnavite cult by Srimanta Sankardeva, a socio-cultural reformer and a religious preacher of Assam during the 15th century A.D.
According to a study based on blood sample collection from Koch people from Goalpara (Borigaon area) district of Assam in 1978-1979, Koch of Goalpara disagree with the tribal populations (like the Garo, Kachari and Rabha who form the parental stock) in most of the characters. It has been observed that the Rajbansi (Koch) living in the tribal area were maintaining a high frequency of HbE gene while Rajbansis living in the area of Hindu castes showed "dilution" of the HbE frequency and thereby showed similarity with the Assamese caste groups in this regard. Along all the Bodo speaking tribes, namely the Garo, Rabha, Kachari and Lalung, HbE gene occurs in very high percentage. “Therefore, one may perhaps infer that the Rajbansis of the tribal areas are descendants of the recent converts and as such are still preserving HbE gene in a high frequency,” the study says.
The homelands of Koch Rajbongshi people comprises their ancient Kingdom, Kamatapur, Kochrajbongshi Kingdom, Kamarupa Kingdom they inhabit in entire Assam, Total Parts of the present West Bengal, Nepal and Bangladesh. They are the majority in Assam and while comparing the North Bengal, Koch Rajbongshi community have majority of the population. Koch Rajbongshi people stay very close to nature. It is a Tradition for Koch Rajbonshi Men to go Hunting in a group in the wild.
They bring the "Prey" from the wild and share the meat in a Banana Leaf as per the requirement of each family. A traditional Koch Rajbonshi dwelling has a Mango Tree, a Jack fruit tree and a Small Kitchen Garden, with a small pond where they keep fish.
They speak the Rangpuri language, which is an Indic language spoken by ten million Rajbongshi people in Bangladesh, five million in India, and more than 130,000 by Nepali Rajbanshi and also Tajpuria. Many are bilingual in either Bengali or Nepali.
Koch Rajbongshi wear their own traditional dress whereby they wear it in their traditional events, community events and also in general day-to-day life. Women and Men of Koch Rajbongshi have sets of traditional dress and jewellery. Patani being wore by the women of this community and men wear gamsha/dhoti and a yellow color piece of cloth surrounded in the neck for men, They wear this yellow color cloth in their neck as a mark of respect for nature, elderly people also have a tradition to wear a turban or a lengthy cloth wrapped in their head.
Women wear patani from the chest till below the knee but it does not touch the ankle, the cloth stays above ground of around 6 cms, the reason for wearing Patani not till the ground level or till the ankle because they believe that water is a sacred as it is a part of the nature so while crossing lake or river the cloth should not touch the water, it is a mark of respect to the nature and they believe that if cloth touch the water the purification of the water goes away and thus how they can not use it in their traditional ritual practice of worshiping nature. Men wear gamasha (5 foot long ) or naucha (9 foot long) from the waist till the knee, it never touches the ankle because they believe that water is sacred as it is a part of the nature so while crossing lake or river the cloth should not touch the water.
They wear a kind of turban, in their head it is a long length cloth wrapped in the head of the elderly men or significant person in the community.
Koch Rajbongshi women get up early in the morning and clean the house with a broom made up of bamboo. Then they give water and food to all the animals first, then they take their breakfast. When they eat, if they have pets like a dog or a cat they also eat along with them the same breakfast, it is a ritual and tradition. Keeping a parrot as a pet is a tradition of Koch Rajbonshi. Whenever Koch Rajbongshi people go for hunting they take the permission from the elder and from the nature to allow them to go for hunting, it is a tradition of Koch Rajbongshi not to kill any animal for pleasure but only for consumption purpose. Koch Rajbongshi people do not eat all kinds of animal. Some of them they consider as bad for their community if they kill (for e.g. crow) They don’t kill DOVE or even they don’t keep as pet in the house but if a dove comes and makes a nest, it is considered as good luck for the community and for the family. Seeing a peacock is considered as good luck during hunting, Koch Rajbongshi people do not kill or eat peacock, but they do catch peacock for feathers for medicinal use but they release the peacock later on after getting the one or two feather. Koch Rajbongshi people make fans out of coconut tree leaves, TAL plant leaves, and they also make fans out of bamboo.
Traditional medicinal practices by Koch Rajbongshi Tribe
Koch Rajbongshi Tribe use leaves of Mari Gold for different purpose of healing and bodily injury. Every house will have Marigold plant which is considered as a medicinal Plant for Cough and Cold Koch Rajbongshi Tribe use Tulsi Leaves, Ginger, Baska Pata (Rajbongshi word), Black Pepper to cure cough and Cold, For Dengu fever Koch Rajbonsghi People takes small Chicken with Ginger, Black Pepper, Garlic and Turmeric, onion, they make a paste of all these herbs in a Stone and Put it in a Bamboo with Banana Leaves and put it in fire. They do body message for their children and old people with spring water, morning dew from the plant leave and warm oil which is mixed with ginger.
Empirical evidence is that this community have special treatment for rematik arthritis, which modern medicine yet have not discovered.
The main traditional food of Rajbongshi's are Panta Bhat. Usually they cook in a Bamboo along with Banana Leaves by putting it in fire Koch Rajbongshi people Burn Brinjal and potato in fire directly and roast it and make a paste with hand and eat. Koch Rajbgonshi people burn fish and eat. They never wash the food item that is being burned for eating purpose, because they believe that Mother Nature will get offended if they wash and eat. They don’t use any utensils for eating, rather they use Banana plants Body part as a Plate And Banana Leaves as a wrapper to keep the food warm. They use Bamboo Plant as a Vessel for Cooking ( For e.g. Bash Pitha) They Wrap a special kind of Rice (borni Chawel) in a Banana Leaf and tie with banana plant thread (which they make out of banana Plant leaves) and Put it in a mud vessel where water is poured and fire is given from down side for boiling ( for e.g. Topla Bhat) they use bamboo plant as a Drinking Glass for drinking water. They used matured bottle Guard shell as an vessel to keep dry food. Koch Rajbongshi People use dry food a lot, they dry in the sun, cabbage, cauliflower, onion to use in the off season. Koch Rajbonsghi people dry meat and keep it and use it whenever there is no meat in the family to eat. They also put Raw Fish in a Bamboo and ferment it and use it when ever there is no fish. Koch Rajbongshi people use a special wooden block to make the paddy into rice. Koch Rajbongshi people use a special stone to make paste for their herbal medicine. Every food Koch Rajbongshi people take have a significance for medicinal use. Koch Rajbongshi people thank nature for providing food before they eat, they sprinkle water around the Banana Plate before and after eating. Koch Rajbongshi people either eat in a community or along with Family but nobody gets up from the eating place until and unless everybody finishes eating.
Koch Rajbonshi people use shell of Coconut, dry matured shell of bottle guard as a Ladle.
Rajbongshi have their own tradition and culture, they celebrate the Rajbongshi new year with their traditional culture, It have its own food habit and tradition, Rajbongshi respect elders and follow a rich cultured life, rajbongshi prefer to eat traditional food in their home and they welcome their guest with bittle nut and bittle leaves.
The main dialects are Western Rajbanshi, Central Rajbanshi, Eastern Rajbanshi and the dialect of the Rajbanshi of the hills, also known as Kamta or Rajbanshi.
Koch Rajbonshi people have had been using the olive branch of Mango trees and olive branch of bamboo tree for oral Hygiene. In the modern era in civilized society, people use a tooth brush but still it been observed from years together the Koch Rajbonshi people of North East India and West Bengal still had been following the same rich cultural traditional Practice of Herbal method. For daily Tongue cleaning they use a thin layer of Bamboo piece, which can easily be bent. It is also seen that Tribal People across the globe follow similar tradition for oral hygienic practices in their day to day. Life same as Koch Rajbonshi ethnic tribe of India. Koch Rajbonshi take baths in a community in nearby lake and they use Ritah for cleaning their Hair and for cleaning their costumes, they use stone and sand to rub their body, they use riverside clay on their body as a paste and dry it in the sun then they wash it. Ladies also use to rub turmeric pieces in their skin specially before marriage and before giving birth to a child. It is also been observed that Koch Rajbonshi boys do push ups in small lake during the time of taking bath as an exercise in the water ( reason is not yet discovered, a special research can be conducted for this purpose).
Religion and beliefs
Koch Rajbongshi are primitively animist but mainly now follow Hinduism/Sanatana with some Christians.
- Bodo-Kachari people
- Koch dynasty
- Kamata Kingdom
- Koch Bihar
- Koch Hajo
- Cooch Behar District
- Kamtapur Liberation Organization
||This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. (March 2014)|
- Cooch Bihar official site
- Ethnologue Report for Rajbanshi
- The Rajbansis: preliminary enquiry towards a study of a complex ethnic group of South-East Nepal and Bengal, Johan Berlie, Regmi Research Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal, 1982.
- Linguistic Terrorism: An Interruption into the Kamtapuri Language Movement
- "Koch". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.