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The Bodo tribe

of Assam
Introduction
The Bodos of Assam is a branch of the great Bodo group of
Indo-Mongoloid family. The Bodos are basically an agrarian
people; still using traditional means to irrigate their land. Their
chief produce is classified into the ‘Ahu' and the ‘Sali' crops.
Bodo villages are situated in the plains of the valleys of Assam,
and hence they are categorized into what is known as the ‘Plains
tribe'. The Bodo people are expert in bamboo and cane craft;
hence one would usually come across houses fashioned out of
bamboo and wood in places where they live in majority. With
the changing times, the Bodos have taken in large numbers to
the services, business and other non-agricultural modes of
livelihood.
Usually, the Bodo family structure is patriarchal, with the
father as the head of the family. The family property
usually passes to the male members of the family. The
village priest looks after the proceedings of the several
rituals that mark their social and religious calendars. The
priest, the douri (assistant of priest), and the heads of the
families are the revered persons of the family, and are the
decision-makers. The most important community
institution of Bodos is the village. The village council's
decision in all matters is accepted by the people.
Culture
The Bodo people, akin to most tribal peoples, are a festival
loving people. The three main categories of festivals are
‘seasonal', ‘religious', ritualistic and ceremonial'. The seasonal
festivals are (i) Baisagu, (ii) Domashi, and (iii) Katrigacha.
These three festivals are parallel to the Bihu. Among the
religious festivals of the Bodos, the ‘Kherai' is the most
famous; usually understood to be the ‘national festival' of the
Bodos.
The festival begins with various dances, songs, and music.
The ‘Bagrumba' is the most attractive group dance of the
Bodos.
Among other religious festivals of the Bodos, we have the
‘Siba', the ‘Sibrai Langamara Puja', the ‘Apeswari Puja', the
‘Haul Kheta' and others.
Religion
Some of the people of the Bodo community are
Christians, while a large chunk follows the precepts of
Hinduism. Among the Hindus, a few follow the ‘Brahma
Dharma' while others follow the ‘Vaishnava Path'. The
ancient tribal Bodo religious faith rests on ‘Bathou'
which has, since the process of Brahmanization, become
analogous to ‘Shiva' of the Hindus. The ‘Sizu' plant,
which is known for longevity is planted in front of the
Bodo courtyard and worshipped.
Language
The Bodo language is currently an associate
language in Assam. It has also been
introduced as the medium of instruction in
the school and colleges, especially in the
Bodo dominated area. The script that they
follow is the Devnagari.
Food
Bodo have favoritism and taste buds for some of the
mouthwatering dishes. They are very much fond of
conventional drink called Zu Mai, Zu means wine and
Mai means rice. Rice is the main staple food but are
savored with a non vegetarian dish like fish or pork.
They now usually prefer non-vegetarian dishes. The
main dishes are Oma Bedor, Onla and Narzi
Traditional Dress
Bodos have quite exquisite
dresses which are exhilirating
the beauty and glamours of
women. Dokna is the dress
worn by Bodo women which
they themselves knit on their
own hands. Shawls form the
major fashion among Bodos
and thus loom is the most
important thing used in the
courtyard of the Bodo House
Current Relevance
Since the early 1990s, Bodos have tried to build up
movements, insurgent as well as pressure groups, to assert
their rights.
The Bodo problem is multidimensional. Initially it was a cry
for identity. Then the question of ascertaining political rights
and constitutional safeguards came up. The creation of a
separate state of Bodoland is the common goal of all Bodo
organisations today. The All-Bodo Students Union inherited
this from Bodo political parties and tribals. The movement
came to an end in 1993 with the signing of the Bodo accord.
Today, the Bodoland movement has been recharged. The
reason is not far to seek- the failure of the Bodo Accord.