Bodo-Kachari people

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This article is about group of ethnic peoples. For the specific ethnic group, see Dimasa people.

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

Dimasa-Kachari, or just Kachari,[1] 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 Dimasa-Kachari was used in the past to refer to the Dimasa people, one of the constituents of this umbrella group.


The term Bodo was first used by B H Hodgson in 1847, to denote a group of languages,[2][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) Sutiya.[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 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
  2. Dimasa
  3. Dhimal
  4. Garo
  5. Hajong
  6. Koch
  7. Lalung (Tiwa)
  8. Madahi
  9. Mahalia
  10. Mech
  11. Moran
  12. Phulgaria
  13. Sutiya
  14. Rabha
  15. Sonowal
  16. Saraniya
  17. Solaimiya
  18. Thengal
  19. Tiprasa - Jamatia, Bru (Reangs), Mogs, Uchai, Noatia, Debbarma

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 (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[edit]


  1. ^ (Endle 1911)
  2. ^ (Hodgson) took the word 'Bodo' from the Meches(Bodos) of Darjeeling district in 1846 while he was writing about them."(Narjinari 2000, p. 4)
  3. ^ Grierson (1903) "Linguistic Survey of India" Vol III Part II p1.
  4. ^ (Choudhury 2007)
  5. ^ Grierson (1903) "Linguistic Survey of India" Vol III Part II p2.
  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, 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)
  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)