The Bodo (Bodo: बर' pronounced [boːɽoː]) are an ethnolinguistic group of northwest Assam in the northeast part of India. They are part of the greater Bodo-Kachari ethnolinguistic groups found today spread over Nepal, Bangladesh, West Bengal and clustered more strongly in Assam in India, along the eastern Duars. This group is politically active and is dominant in the BTAD districts of Assam (Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang), which is a group of autonomous districts under Bodoland Territorial Council.
Kachari (Boro), Mech (In Bengal)
|c. 2.0 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Bathouism, Hindu, Christian|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Bodo people speak the Bodo language that belong to the Tibeto-Burman languages, and it is recognized as one of twenty-two scheduled languages in the Indian Constitution. The Tibeto-Burman languages are considered to have entered Assam after the Austroasiatic languages. The Bodo-Kachari are the first to rear silkworms and produce silk material, and they are also considered to be advanced in rice cultivation in Assam.
The Bodo people are recognized as a plains tribe in the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Udalguri, Chirang, Baksa, Sonitpur, Goalpara, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Kokrajhar of Assam are considered the centre of the Bodo people.
Etymology of BodoEdit
The name Bodo is of recent usage, first used by Hodgson in the middle of 19th century; and is derived from the word for man (but not woman) in the languages used by the Mech and Kachari peoples. Some scholars opined that the word ' Bodo' may have come from the word 'Bod' which means Tibet. Bodo people used to called themselves as Boro-Fisa. In Kok-Borok language, Boro means Human being. According to Idimbar Deori Bodo or Boro originate from Hbrog or Brogok, which means Human. The Bodos used to be known the term Bodosa (correct word is Badousa modification of Bathousahari ) in past. The Bodo-Kacharis living in West Bengal, Nepal are called Mech (pronounced 'meche' in Nepal).
The Bodo language is one of the languages of the Sino-Tibetan or Tibeto-Chinese speech family. It belongs to the Bodo-Garo group of the Assam-Burmese branch of the Sino-Tibetan family.
Bodos traditionally practise Bathouism, which is the worshiping of forefathers, known as Obonglaoree. The shijou plant (Euphorbia genus) is taken as the symbol of Bathou and worshiped. It is also claimed as the supreme god. In Bodo language, Ba means five and thou means deep. As Bodos believe in five mighty elements of God, which are Land, Water, Air, Fire, and Sky, five has become a significant number in the Bathou religion.
The Shijou tree is encircled with eighteen pairs of designed bamboo sticks and five pairs of ring of bamboo. In front of Shijou within encircled bamboo ring, there is a 'Dove Heart'.
According to the concept of Bathouism, before the creation of universe, there was simply a great void, in which the supreme being 'Aham Guru', Anan Binan Gosai or Obonglaoree existed formlessly. The supreme god Aham guru became tired of living formless existence and desired to live in flesh and blood. He descended on this great void with all human characteristics. Thereafter he created the universe.
In addition to Bathouism, Bodo people also follow Hinduism, especially Hoom Jaygya. For this worship through fire ceremony, a clean surface near home or courtyard is prepared. Usually, worship offering could include one pair of Betel nut called 'goi' and betel leaf called 'pathwi/bathwi', rice, milk, and sugar. Another important Hindu festival, the Kherai Puja, is the most important festival of the Bodos, when the altar is placed in the rice field. However, caste and dowry practices are not practiced by the majority of Bodo Hindus who follow a set of rules called Brahma Dharma.
History of the Bodo people can be explained from folk traditions. Koch kings were Koch-Mech descent. According to Padma Bhushan winner Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, mythologically, Boros are “the offspring of son of the Vishnu and Mother-Earth” who were termed as ‘Kiratas’ during the Epic period; and assiciated with Pragjyotisha Kingdom, Varman dynasty, Mlechcha dynasty, Pala dynasty, Khen dynasty, Mahamanikya, Kamarupa Kingdom, Kamata Kingdom, Kachari Kingdom, Koch dynasty, Bhuyan (Land Lords). The rulers of Mlechcha Dynasty (Non-Vedic Dynasty) were Bodo or Mech (Sanskritized as Mlechcha).  First King Bramhapala of Pala Dynasty was relative of Tyagsimha , Last of Mlechcha lineage.
The Important clans of Bodos
- Swarga-Aroi ; In sanskrit , Swarga means heaven. The clan is heaven folk. The clan never worked as cultivators. They were also known as Deoris and Ojhas.
- Basumati-Aroi ; In sanskrit , Basumati means earth. The clan is earth folk. The clan had certain privileges over land not possesed by others.
- Ramsa-Aroi ; The clan is Ramsa folk. Ramsa is village in Betna Mouza , Undivided Kamrup. Ramsa is hill in Kharguli , Kamrup. Ram-sa (Ram's people ?) is the name by which Kacharis living in plain were known to their brethren in NC hills.
- "2011 Estimates as per Census report 2001" (PDF).
- "The first group of migrants to settle in this part of the country is perhaps the Austro-Asiatic language speaking people who came here from South-East Asia a few millennia before Christ. The second group of migrants came to Assam from the north, north-east and east. They are mostly the Tibeto-Burman language speaking people. From about the fifth century before Christ, there started a trickle of migration of the people speaking Indo-Aryan language from the Gangetic plain." (Taher 2001, p. 12)
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- NN, Acharya. Glories of Assam. Bina Library Guwahati. pp. 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bodo people.|
- Pulloppillil, Thomas & Aluckal, Jacob (1997) The Bodos: Children of the Bhullumbutter
- Mushahary, Moniram (1981) Bodo–English Dictionary
- Taher, M (2001), "Assam: An Introduction", in Bhagawati, A K (ed.), Geography of Assam, New Delhi: Rajesh Publications, pp. 1–17
- Brahma, Nirjay Kumar (2008). Socio political institutions in Bodo society (PhD). Retrieved 13 May 2019.