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Bodo-Kachari or Kachari, or Bodo is a generic term applied to a number of ethnic groups (one of which is also confusingly called Bodo), living predominantly in the Northeast Indian state of Assam, that speak Assamese and other Tibeto-Burman languages and have a shared ancestry. Although most of these groups spoke different forms of Bodo-Kachari languages in historical times, today a majority of them speak Assamese. The 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.
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, Doiyang, Doigrung etc.—where Di/Doi- means water in Tibeto-Burman languages.
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 do not follow 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 term Bodo was published by Hodgson in 1847, to denote the Mech people and their language of in Darjeeling district, though this term was never used in the sources of history of Assam. Grierson took this term to denote a section of the Assam-Burma group of the Tibeto-Burman speakers of the Sino-Tibetan speech family, which included the languages of (1) Mech; (2) Rabha; (3) Lalung (Tiwa); (4) Dimasa (Hills Kachari); (5) Garo (6) Tiprasa and (7) Chutiya. Over time, for anthropological and linguistic purposes, Bodo came to denote all people in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh that spoke related languages now or in the past, or claimed a shared ancestry. This umbrella-group includes such sub-groups as Mech in Bengal and Nepal; Boros (Bodo people), Dimasa, Chutia, Sonowal, Rabha, Tiwa in Assam, and the Kokborok people in Tripura and Bangladesh. This is in contrast to popular and socio-political usage, where Bodo denotes the politically dominant sub-group—the Boros—in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts.
Although the word "Bodo" was used as an umbrella term during the British period, the origin of the term can be found in almost all the sub-tribes of the community. According to historians, the word "Bodo" is derived from Hbrog or Brogok which means Human being/ Great Man.
On the other hand, the term Kachari has been used through much of history to denote the same people. One of the earliest usage can be found in the 16-th century Assamese language Bhagavata. The origin of the name is most likely a self-designation korosa aris that is found in a very old Kachari song:
Pra Ari, Korasa Ari
Jong pari lari lari
(We are Korosa Aris, first-born sea race
Our line is continuous)
The Bodo people, also called Boro, are densely found in the duars regions, north of Goalpara and Kamrup. The origin of Kachari term was unknown to Boro themselves, but known to others. They call themselves as Boro, Bada, Bodo, Barafisa. Barafisa translated as Children of the Bara.
The Mech are found in both Assam and Bengal. Hodgson(1847) wrote as "Mech is name imposed by strangers. This people call themselves as Bodo. Thus, Bodo is their proper designation" They speak mainly the Bodo language J.D Anderson wrote, "In Assam proper Hindus call them Kacharis, In Bengal they are known as Meches. Their own name for the race is Boro or Bodo."
Among Chutias, Burok means noble/great men. The Buroks formed a major part of the tribe. The Chutias who were thought to be healthy and strong was termed as Burok and took up the administrative and military roles in the Chutia kingdom. All Chutia royalty belonged to the Burok clan. Even the Motok king Sarbananda Singha belonged to the Burok Chutia clan. Surnames like Bora, Borha, Borua have their origins in the Chutia kingdom and are related to Bara/Bodo/Buruk only. There is mention of Manik Chandra Barua, Dhela Bora, Borhuloi Barua as commanders of Chutia army. Later the Ahoms adopted the title after the downfall of Chutias.
The Morans called their leader/chief as Badaucha(great man). The origin folklore of the Morans is same as that of Boruk Chutias which indicate that they were a faction which split at an early time.
The Deoris(who were priests by profession) also have the Burok clan among them.
The Tripuris often call themselves Boroks and their language is called Kokborok.
The Reang people of Assam, Tripura and Mizoram call themselves Bru which means "great men".
They were first classified by S. Endle as the Kacharis. 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 Bodo/Deori-Chutia, Moran, Dimasa, other dialects Bodo languages. ("Ti" in Lalung (Tiwa) language, "Twi" in Tripuri language, "Dwi" in 8th scheduled Boro & "Chi" in Garo). There are many places name given by Bodo-Kachari people are Dispur, Dinajpur, Dimapur, Dibrugarh, Hajo, Mongoldoi, Diphu etc.
Based on an 1881 census, there were 19 groups within the Kachari classification:
- Dimasa Kachari
- Lalung (Tiwa)
- Sonowal Kachari
- Sarania Kachari
- Thengal Kachari
- Tiprasa – Jamatia, Bru (Reangs), Uchai, Noatia, Debbarma, Kalai, Rupini, Murasing, Tripura, Roaza, Kaipeng etc.
Some of the groups, such as Moran and Sarania consider themselves as lower-caste Hindus. Other groups, such as the Garo, Rabha, Lalung (Tiwa) 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 represents the Kachari.
The Tripuri, Chutiya, Koch-Mech and Kachari 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 is 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
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- "Population by Religious Communities". Census India – 2001. Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
Census Data Finder/C Series/Population by Religious Communities
- "Population by religion community – 2011". Census of India, 2011. The Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Archived from the original on 25 August 2015.
- Endle 1911.
- "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)
- Govt. of India, Ministry of Home Affairs. "Eight Schedules" (PDF). mha.nic.in. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- Hodgson, B.H. (1847). Essay the first; On the Kocch, Bódo and Dhimál tribes. Calcutta: J. Thomas. pp. 105, 142, 154, 155, 156.
Mech is name imposed by strangers. This people call themselves as Bodo. Thus, Bodo is their proper designation
- (Narjinari 2000, p. 4)(Grierson 1903, p. 1)
- "The term Bodo was first used by Brian H Hodgson in his book On the Koch, Bodo and Dhimal Tribes in 1847 and no reference of the term is seen in any sources in the history of Assam." (Bathari 2014:14)
- Choudhury 2007, p. 1.
- Grierson 1903, p. 2.
- "[I]t seems that the term Bodo is used particularly to denote sections of people having an agnatic relationship in terms of speech practices and a strong sense of shared ancestry. This term the Bodo is more anthropological in its usage." (Bathari 2014:14)
- (Bathari 2014:14)
- "In present-day socio-political terminology, the Bodo means the plains tribes of the Brahmaputra Valley known earlier as Bodo-Kachari." (Choudhury 2007, p. 1)
- "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)
- Bodo word explained
- "On the other hand, for the larger part of history, this group of people is referred to as Kacharis." (Bathari 2014:14)
- Srimandbhagavat, skandha 2, H Dattabaruah and Co., Nalbari, pp-38: kiraTa kachhaari khaachi gaaro miri / yavana ka~Nka govaala /
- (Mosahary 1983:47)
- (The Kacharis & J.D Anderson:xv)
- The Dimasa were known as Bodosa who migrated to Dimapur region and settled on the banks of Dhansiri, and later came to be known as Dimasa
- Nath, D. The Mataks and their Revolt, p.13
- Dr. Swarnalata Baruah(2004), Chutiya Jaatir Buranji, Page 145, Surnames like Bora, Saikia, Kataki, Tamuli,etc. were found in Chutia kingdom. It is clearly stated in the Deodhai Buranji that when Ahom king Suhungmung attacked the Chutia kingdom on the banks of Dihing river, the Chutia army was led by one Manik Chandra Baruah. The surname "Neog" was probably derived from the Chutia "Nayak" whose duty was the same. Deori folklores also mention the myths behind the creation of each of these titles. For instance, "Bora" was said to be derived from the "Buruk" clan and acted either as a military official or a temple guard...
- Dr. Swarnalata Baruah(2004), Chutiya Jaatir Buranji, Page 129, The Chutia army was led by Borhuloi Borua and Dhela Bora.
- Moran chief Badaucha
- Tripuris are called Boroks
- "Royal history of Cooch Behar". coochbehar.nic.in. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- Bathari, Uttam (2014). Memory History and polity a study of dimasa identity in colonial past and post colonial present (Ph.D.). Gauhati University.
- Burling, Robbins (2013). "The Tibeto-Burman Languages of Northeastern India". In LaPolla, Randy J. (ed.). Sino-Tibetan languages. Routledge.
- Choudhury, Sujit (2007). The Bodos: Emergence and Assertion of an ethnic minority. Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study.
- Endle, Sidney (1911). The Kacharis. London: Macmillan and Co. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- Basu, Analabha (2003). "Ethnic India: A Genomic View, With Special Reference to Peopling and Structure". Genome Research. 13 (10): 2277–2290. doi:10.1101/gr.1413403. PMC 403703. PMID 14525929. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- George, Sudhir Jacob (1994). "The Bodo Movement in Assam: Unrest to Accord". Asian Survey. University of California Press. 34 (10): 878–892. doi:10.1525/as.1994.34.10.00p0431w.
- Grierson, George A. (1903). Linguistic Survey of India. Volume III, Part 2, Tibeto-Burman family. Specimens of the Bodo, Nāgā, and Kachin groups. Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, India.
- Mosahary, R N (1983). "The Boros : Their Origin, Migration and Settlement in Assam" (PDF). Proceedings of Northeast India History Association. Barapani: Northeast India History Association. pp. 42–70. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
- Narjinari, Hira Charan (2000). Reassertiveness of the Great Bodos.
- GoI. Eighth Scheduled Indian Languages (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- Soppit, C.A. (1885). An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Kachari Tribes in the North Cachar Hills. Assam Secretariat Press.