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“CULTURAL ASSIMILATION AMONG AHOMS, CHUTIYS, KACHARI, MISHING

,
RABHA, AND DEORIS ETHNIC COMMUNITIES OF ASSAM”
LINI BARUAH
Research Scholar, Department of Sociology, Dibrugarh University, Assam, India

ABSTRACT
At the introductory part, the paper try to give an idea about the term ethnic communities, cultural assimilation
among the ethnic communities of north east India, and Origin of the ethnic communities etc. Method is an important part
of research paper. At this paper Exploratory, Descriptive and Content analysis method are used. The Discussion part of the
paper contain about cultural assimilation among the ethnic communities i.e. AHOMS, CHUTIYA, KACHARIES,
MISHING, RABHAS and DEORIES. On conclusion Part research finding is that due to cultural assimilation cultural
changes are found among the ethnic communities, modern and traditional forces are take active part on changes
and assimilation.
KEYWORDS: Ethnic Communities, Culture, Cultural Assimilation, Migration, Cultural Process, Customs, Religious
Institution
INTRODUCTION
The term Ethnicity was first used by David Rieaman in 1853 as referred to in the 1972 Supplement of the Oxford
English Dictionary and Subsequently by Cynthia H. Enloe and in India by J. Das Gupta. Before 1953 other terms like
“Ethnic Communities” by Caroline F. Ware in the Encyclopedia of Social Sciences of ‘Ethnocentriam’ by Edward Byron
Reuter in a modern Handbook of Sociology were used. Since 1953 other terms are used ‘ethnic groups’ by H. S. Morris in
the International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences (1968) and other writers like Max Weber and Talcot Parsons;
“primordial (group) attachments” by Clifford Geetz; ‘communal group’ by Daniel Bell; ‘minority groups’ by Preston
Valien. All these terms aim at identifying a particular social group. However, the different terms with meaning ranging
from “heathen nations” beyond Western civilization and “alien minorities” within western countries, to metaphorical or
imaginary ‘decent groups’ which are supposed to be universal to mankind, do not really indicate the universal acceptance
of the true significance of the term ethnicity. It becomes all the more difficult if we are to apply the term to the
communities of North-East India.(i)
At different periods of history cultural assimilation of different ethno-culture groups under various
politico – economic system are develop. The roots of the culture go back to almost two thousand years when the first
cultural assimilation took place with Austroasiatic and Tibeto-Burman as the major components. With reference from the
great epics Mahabharata and on the basis of the local folk lore it is also hypotheses that there was probably a strong
kingdom of these mixed population (of Austroasiatic and Tibeto-Burman origin) in the era before Jesus Christ, which led
to an early assimilation at a greater scale.(ii)
Culture, which is a character we ordinarily attribute to communities and peoples, is a term not unlike personality,
which is a character we attribute to individuals. Personality has sometimes been described as the individual and subjective
aspect of culture. In that sense we may say that culture consists of those habits in individuals that have become customary,
conventionalized, and accepted in the community. (iii)
BEST: International Journal of Humanities, Arts,
Medicine and Sciences (BEST: IJHAMS)
ISSN 2348-0521
Vol. 2, Issue 7, Jul 2014, 59-64
© BEST Journals
60 Lini Baruah
Cultural assimilation is the process by which a person or a group’s language or culture come to resemble those of
another group. The term is used both to refer to both individuals and group’s and, in the latter case it can refer to either
immigrant diasporas or native residents that come to be culturally dominated by another society. Assimilation may involve
either a quick or gradual change depending on circumstances of the group. Full assimilation occurs when new members of
a society become indistinguishable from members of the group. Whether or not it is desirable for an immigrant group to
assimilate is often disputed by both members of the group and those of the dominant society.(iv)
Assam, a northeastern state of India which culture is the result of various assimilated culture of various ethnic
tribe. Culture of Assam i.e. rituals, customs, heritage, lifestyle, faith and beliefs are assimilated one. Gamocha is an integral
part of every socio-religious ceremony. Its used by all inhabitant of Assam, irrespective of peoples religious or ethnic
background. Assamese or Akhomiya is the main language of Assam, English is used for administrative purposes though
different ethnic group have their own languages that are commonly used in their own communities.(v)
From the earlier period to present various ethnic group are migrated to Assam in different period of history.
AHOMS are entered through the Patkai Pass in the thirteenth century.(vi) It was Mongolian and entered the valley from
upper end in the angle between China and Upper Burma. About 1228 A.D. a tribe of ‘mau’ (? Man) Shans called Ahom
pressed northwards by the Burmese crossed from the Irawadi basin into the upper valley of Brahmaputra and occupied the
bank of that river near Sadiya. CHUTIES is the ethnic tribe of the upper valley of Assam’s Sadiya in the time of the Ahom
invasion in the 13
th
century. They are now chiefly found in the Sibsagar district side by side with the Ahoms.(vii)
• Tribal Identity and Tension in North East India, B. Dattaray, OMSONS Publication, New Delhi,
ISBN 81-7117-064-1.
• Culture of Assam- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
• Race and Culture, Essays in the Sociology of contemporary Man, Park Robert Ezra, The Free Press of Glencoe,
collier- MacMillan Limited, London 1950.
• Cultural assimilation- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
• Assam Culture.(Internet).
• Assam, Its Heritage and culture, Bhushan Chandra, Kalpaz Publications, Delhi,ISBN-81-7835-352-0.
The BODOS of the Kachari dwars (the dwars or “door” of the kachari plains are the passes that lead into the
rough mountains of independent Bhutan) are part of the aboriginal races of Assam.(viii)
The MISING tribe is the predominant tribe who belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family of Mongoloid group.
According to Allen (1926) “they are riverine tribe having a homogonous origin with Pasi. Miyong and the Padam of Abor
hills. Originally the Misings were hill tribe within the ranges of Abor, Miri, and Mishimi hills of the present day Arunachal
Pradesh and migrated to the plains areas before the region of the Ahom Kingdom. They appear to have dwelt in the Siang.
(The name of the river Brahmaputra in Arunachal Pradesh) region for long centuries, before they reached the Brahmaputra
Valley at one point of time in a process of migration in groups, their migration being prompted apparently, by their quest
for larger areas of fertile land for cultivation.(ix)


“Cultural Assimilation among AHOMS, CHUTIYS, KACHARI, 61
MISHING, RABHA and DEORIS Ethnic Communities of Assam”
The RABHA ethnic group is the original inhabitants of North East India. Rabhas are spread over entire Assam,
some parts of Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal. A sizeable population of Rabhas remains in Bangladesh
also. The Rabha people have some well-known divisions among themselves : Rongdani, Maitari, Paati, Haanaa, Daahuri,
Totlaa, Bitolia and Kocha.(x)
The DEORI community is an aboriginal community of Assam having its rich traditional and identical religious
and cultural practices. The Deories have been found to be scattered primarily in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. In Assam,
the Deori villages are found in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Sonitpur, Jorhat, Sivasagar, Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts and in
Arunachal Pradesh their villages are found in Lohit and Changlang Districts.(xi)
FOOT NOTE
• The Tribes of The Brahmaputra Valley: A Contribution on their physical types and affinities, Waddell L.A.,
Sanskaran Prakashak, Delhi.
• The Kacharies, By the Late Rev. Sidney Endle, with an Introduction By Anderson J. D., I.C.S. (Retired),
Cosmo Publications, Delhi-6, India, 1975.
• Man and Life, A Journal of the Institute of Social Research and applied Anthropology,
Editor- Bowmick Pradip k., West Bengal, Vol-39, Jan-June, 2013.
• Socio-cultural and Spiritual Traditions of Assam, Edited by- Engti Dhaneswar, Heritage Foundation, Guwahati,
July 2012. Page-182
• Ibid. Page-55.
METHODOLOGY OF THE PAPER
The Research paper discuss on the basis of descriptive exploratory and content analysis research method. Cultural
assimilation among ethnic communities and impact of modern and traditional process of changes on their culture are
discuss in the paper. The perspective of research paper based on Gender. On preparing the paper various kind of data are
collected from various sources i.e. Journals, Books, Articals and Internet. The paper is based on secondary sources.
OBJECTIVE OF THE PAPER
• To know the cultural changes among ethnic communities.
• To know pattern of changes among them.
DISCUSSIONS PART
Assamese culture is very rich and colorful from the ancient time. Assamese culture is the result of cultural
assimilation among different ethnic groups which are settled here. Assam can be quoted as a classical example of having a
broad racial intermixture in population. The people of Assamese community owe their origin to the unique fusion and
fraternization of various ethnic groups. The cultural landscape of Assam is rich and colourful as physiography and human
landscape. Like the Assamese people, the Assamese culture is also an assimilation or fusion of the distinct culture and
heritage of the different ethnic groups and communities which has settled in Assam The most important social and cultural
festival of Assam is Bihu which is calibrated by the people of Assam irrespective of cast and religion. The Assamese
people observe three Bihu in a year, namely Bohag Bihu, Kati Bihu and the Magh Bihu. The traditional Gamocha and the
unique Bihu Dance are important aspects of the rich Assamese culture. Weaving is another important aspect of the
62 Lini Baruah
Assamese culture. The Assamese are experts in silk and cotton clothes weaving. The cultural life of Assam basically
revolve around the activities of the two most important cultural and religious institutions the “Satra” and the “Naamghor”
where the majority of the Assamese people recite the name of God by performing “Naamkirtans”. The Ahom Hinduised
Mongoloid peoples of the valley and had themselves adopted the Hindu religion, language and customs
The Rabha society who constitutes the fourth largest community in Assam, demographically the largest state in
North East India. During the process of assimilation the Rabha community successes in retaining some of the distinct
identity markers in spite of the push and pull of development perspectives. Many changes appears among the Rabha,
matrilineal Rabha who came in contact with the patrilineal Hindu castes, adopted many of their traits. For example,
in the life cycle ceremonies there was no employment of a Hindu prist in the very beginning; but around 1346 B.S. a
revolutionary change in Rabha culture is noticed in their acceptance of a Hindu officiator of life cycle ceremonies. Due to
the adoption of certain Hindu practices, many of the deities and festivals of the Hindu religious tradition were also
accepted by the Rabha.
Numerically, Mishing are the second largest scheduled tribe in Assam, the largest being Bodos, who constitutes
40.9 % of the state’s total scheduled Tribes population. The changes among Misings can be found in the ethnic food habits,
traditional cultural activities, behavior, assimilation with non- tribal groups etc.
Assimilation of Deoris with other ethnic groups, their economic activities have been influenced. Tengapaniya
group of Deoris have forgotten their original language because of interaction with other ethnic group. As a result of
cultural assimilation, cultural aspects of Deoris has transformed. (Migration and Cultural Transformation of Deoris in
Assam)
The Boro society and religion have undergone assimilation and changes through several centuries, particularly
with the advent of the Aryan culture in the 7
th
century A.D. The Boro kings first converted themselves into Hinduism.
(A Brief History of the Boro People Oocities
The modern Assamese culture is greatly influenced by various events those took place in the British Assam and in
the Post-British Era. The language was standardized by the American Missionaries with the form available in the Sibsagar
(xiwoxagor) District (The Nerve Centre of the Ahom Politico-Economic System).
Assam has maintained a rich tradition of various traditional crafts for more than two thousand years.
(Culture of Assam Wikipedia,the free encyclopedia)
CONCLUSIONS
From the above discussion it is notice that culture of Assam developed due to cultural assimilation of different
ethnic groups. Assamese culture in its true sense is a cultural system composed of different sub-systems. The Assamese
cultural system incorporates its source-cultures such as Bodo (Boro) or Rabha or Mishing or Chutiya or Kachari or Deoris
but individual development of these sub-systems are important.
REFERENCES
1. Pegu, Peter; “A History of The Mishing of Eastern India”.
2. Roy, Nalini Ranjan; Koch Rajbonshi and Kamtapuri, The truth unveiled, Vicky Publication,Guwahati.
3. Vidyarthi, L. P., B.K. Rai, Concept Publication Company, New Delhi-1985,Second edition.
“Cultural Assimilation among AHOMS, CHUTIYS, KACHARI, 63
MISHING, RABHA and DEORIS Ethnic Communities of Assam”
4. A Brief History of The Boro people Oocities
5. Culture of Assam-Wikipedia-the free encyclopedia.
6. Migration and Cultural Transformation of Deoris in Assam.
7. Overviewing The North East India Cultural Studies Essay-UK Essays.
8. People and Cultural-Beauty of Assam.
9. The Nerve centre of the Ahom Politico-Economic System.
10. The Journal of Northeast Indian Cultures. An International Journal of Assam Don Bosco University,
vol-I, ISBN-2322-0988