Bodo-Kachari people

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Total population
Approx. 12 - 14  million
Regions with significant populations
Assam n/a
Tripura n/a
Meghalaya n/a
Arunachal Pradesh n/a
Predominant Minority
Related ethnic groups

Bodo-Kachari,[1] or simply Kachari is a generic term applied to a number of ethnic groups, predominantly in Assam state, India, speaking Assamese and Bodo language with a common or shared ancestry. Although most of these groups spoke different forms of Bodo-Kachari languages in historical times, today majority of them speak Assamese. Bodo language, one of the languages spoken by this group, has been recognised as an eighth scheduled Indian language in the year 2004.They are part of the Tibeto-Burman speaking community of Assam.[2]


The term Bodo was first used by B H Hodgson in 1847, to denote a group of languages,(Hodgson) took the word 'Bodo' from the Meches (Bodos) of Darjeeling district in 1846 while he was writing about them." [3] Grierson took this term to denote a section of the Assam-Burma group of the Tibeto-Burman speakers of the Sino-Tibetan speech family,[4] which included the languages of (1) Mech; (2) Rabha; (3) Lalung; (4) Dimasa (Hills Kachari); (5) Garo (6) Tiprasa and (7) Chutiya.[5]

The term "Bodo" is used to denote a large number of tribes.[6] In recent times, the tribe that was originally called Bodo Kachari, are now being called Bodo.[7] This contraction, from Bodo-kachari to Bodo, is widely accepted now.[8]


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 South China, 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:

  1. Bodo-Mech
  2. Deuri
  3. Dimasa
  4. Dhimal
  5. Garo
  6. Hajong
  7. Koch
  8. Lalung (Tiwa)
  9. Mech
  10. Moran
  11. Motok
  12. Keot(Kaibarta)
  13. Phulgaria
  14. Chutiya
  15. Rabha
  16. Sonowal
  17. Saraniya
  18. Solaimiya
  19. Thengal
  20. Tiprasa - Jamatia, Bru (Reangs), Mogs, Uchai, Noatia, Debbarma, Kalai, Halam, Rupini, Murasing, Tripura, Roaza, Hrangkhawl, Kaipeng etc.,.

Some of the groups, such as 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 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, Chutiya, Koch 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[edit]


  1. ^ Endle 1911.
  2. ^ Govt. of India, Ministry of Home Affairs. "Eight Schedules" (PDF). 
  3. ^ (Narjinari 2000, p. 4)(Grierson 1903, p. 1).
  4. ^ Choudhury 2007.
  5. ^ Grierson 1903, p. 2.
  6. ^ "The term Bodo is also used to denote a large number of tribes— The Bodo people, The Garos of Meghalaya, Tiprasa of Tripura, Koch, Rabha, Lalung, Dimasa, Hajong, Chutia, 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)
  7. ^ "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)
  8. ^ "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)