The Boro (also Bodo; both pronounced [boːɽoː]) is the largest ethnolinguistic group in the Assam state of India. They are a part of the greater Bodo-Kachari family of ethnolinguistic groups and are spread across northeastern India. They are concentrated mainly in the Bodoland Territorial Region of Assam, though Boros inhabit all other districts of Assam.
Boro bwisagu dance in traditional attire
|1.45 million (2011)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|*Assam||1.41 million (2011)|
|Ba-Thou • Hinduism • Christianity|
|Related ethnic groups|
Boros are officially identified as "Boro, Borokachari" scheduled tribe under the constitution of India. Boros speak Boro language, a Boro-Garo language of the Tibeto-Burman family, which is recognized as one of twenty-two scheduled languages in the Indian Constitution. Over two-thirds of the people are bilingual, speaking Assamese as second language. The Boro along with other cognate groups of Bodo-Kachari peoples are prehistoric settlers who are believed to have migrated at least 3000 years ago. The Bodo-Kachari were also some of the first people to rear silkworms and produce silk material and were considered to be advanced in rice cultivation in Assam during this time period.
Etymology of BoroEdit
The Boros are sometimes known as Kacharis and Mech to others, but self-identify as Bodo or Boro, though the correct form is Boro. Boro comes from Bara-fisa, which means "son of Bara", where Bara stands for "man" or "male member" of the group.
There is a saying of Boro people, Boro hari, geder hari, meaning "Boro people, great people", So, Dalton concluded Boro means "great people". Similarly, in the Kokborok language, Borok means man ('K' being a suffix for every noun), so logically Boro would mean man even in the Boro language. Brahma opines that Boro might have originated from the Tibetan word Hbrog or Hbrogok, meaning Man. Generally, the word Boro means a man, in the wider sense Boro means a human being (but not specific to a female member of the family) in the languages used by Bodo-Kachari peoples.
Boros were polytheist. They worshiped dozens of Hindu deities like Siva, Durga, Kali, Ram and Krishna along with tribal deities like Bathou or Shijou, Mainao, Mairong and Agrang. In 1971, about 95% of Boros were Hindus and 5% were Christians.
Traditionally, Boros practiced Bathouism, which is the worshiping of supreme God, known as Obonglaoree. The shijou tree (in the genus Euphorbia) is taken as the symbol of Bathou and worshiped. It is also claimed as the supreme god. In the Boro language, Ba means five and thou means deep. Since Boros believe in the five mighty elements of God – land, water, air, fire, and ether – the number five has become significant in the Bathou religion.
The Shijou tree is encircled by eighteen pairs of ornamental bamboo sticks and five pairs of rings of bamboo. In front of Shijou, within the bamboo ring, there is a "dove heart".[clarification needed]
According to Bathouism, before the creation of the universe there was simply a great void, in which the supreme being 'Aham Guru', Anan Binan Gosai or Obonglaoree existed formlessly. Aham Guru became tired of living a formless existence and desired to live in flesh and blood. He descended on this great void with all human characteristics and created the universe.
In addition to Bathouism, Boro people also follow Hinduism, especially Hoom Jaygya. For this worship through fire ceremony, a clean surface near a home or courtyard is prepared. Usually, worship offerings include a betel nut called a 'goi' and a betel leaf called a 'pathwi' or 'bathwi' and rice, milk, and sugar. Another important Hindu festival, the Kherai Puja, where an altar is placed in a rice field, is the most important festival of the Boros. However, caste and dowry practices are not practiced by the majority of Boro Hindus, who follow a set of rules called Brahma Dharma.
Occupation and Population distributionEdit
Boros are mostly settled farmers. Boro farmers also have traditional irrigation called Dong system.
Folk tradition and mythologyEdit
The history of the Boro people can be explained from folk traditions. According to Padma Bhushan winner Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, mythologically, Boros are "the offspring of son of the Vishnu and Mother-Earth" who were termed "Kiratas" during the Epic period. Basumatary, the largest sub-tribe of Boro means Sons of the Soil.
According to Hodgson, since the people who were known as Kacharis and Mech to others called themselves Boro, and also the Kachari chief deities, Siju, Mairong, and Agrang, are also Mech deities, the term Boro is the proper designation for the tribes. The exonym Mech originated from the Sanskrit word Mleccha. Boros were repeatedly called as Mleccha or Mech. According to Alamgirnamah, Cooch Behar was inhabited by Koch and Mech. In ancient Sanskrit literatures, Boros were called as Kiratas and Mlecchas. Copperplate land grant inscription related to Ramca and Mahalia Kacharis were found
Aroi or Ari or Ary is a suffix, which means clan in the Boro language.
Some of the important clans of Boros are:
- Swargiari: The priestly clan, with Deoris and Ojhas selected from this clan.
- Basumatari: The land-holding clan.
- Narzari: The clan associated with the jute cultivation and supply.
- Mushahari: This clan is associated with the protection of cattle.
- Gayari: This clan is associated with the cultivation of areca nuts.
- Owari: This clan is associated with the supply of bamboos.
- Khakhlari: This clan is associated with the supply of Khangkhala plant required for kherai puja.
- Daimari: This clan is associated with the river.
- Hajoari: The Boros that lived in the hills and foothills.
- Kherkatari: The Boros associated with thatch and its supply, found mostly in Kamrup district.
- Sibingari: The Boros traditionally associated with raising and supply of sesame.
- Bingiari: The Boros associated with musical instruments.
- Rajni Basumatary Filmmaker and actress
- Harishankar Brahma 19th Chief Election Commissioner of India
- Upendra Nath Brahma, Boro activist, known by the title Bodofa
- Sansuma Khunggur Bwiswmuthiary, former Member of parliament
- Hagrama Mohilary, president of Bodoland People's Front political party and former Chief Executive Member of Bodoland Territorial Council.
- Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary, IPS officer and former governor of Meghalaya
- Halicharan Narzary, Indian footballer
- Bishnu Prasad Rabha, Indian cultural icon
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- "Most scholars suggest that the first Tibeto-Burman-speaking peoples began to enter Assam at least 3,000 years ago." (DeLancey 2012:13–14)
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- (Chattarji 1951:95–96)
- "The people very seldom call themselves by any other name other than Bodo or Boro." (Mosahary 1983:42)
- "It is important to note here whether the name is Bodo or Boro. It is undoubtedly Boro, which means 'great people' and not Bodo, which many of the people themselves call." (Mosahary 1983:42)
- "(W)e have references to the term Bara-fisa meaning child of the Baras and the term Bara-fisa must have been subsequently termed as simply as Bara pronounced as Boro. Dr P C Bhattacharya writes that like other tribal names in Assam the name Bara stands for man or male member (Mosahary 1983:44)
- In this regard, E T Dalton has come closer to the truth when he observes that 'Boro' means great people. This may be examined in the light of the Boro saying, "Boro hari,geder har" - Boro people, great people.(Bhatt 2005:20)
- (Bhatt 2005:20)
- (Brahma 2008:1)
- (Dikshit 2013:375)
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- (Sen 1999:44)
- (Jacquesson 2008:21)
- (Chattarji 1951:97) Sanskritized version of Mech is Mleccha.
- (Ghulam 1902:11) Cooch Behar was inhabited by Mech & Koch. Raja belong to first tribe.
- (Chattarji 1951:97–98)
- (Thakuria 2015:96)The charter records a grant of 186 purās of land, made to five persons, viz. Kacharimahalia Badnagaria, Ramca and Bajhparhania and Chutiya, who offered service to the families of medhis, bhakatas and the brahmanas of the Darrangirājya. The charter was issued by king Pramatta Singha in śaka 1667.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bodo people.|
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- Kakoty, Suchitra (1981). "The Historical Background of the Bodo-Kacharis". A study of the educational development of the bodo tribe during the post independence period with particular reference to the northern region of Assam (PhD). Guwahati University. hdl:10603/67775.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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