The Hajong are a tribal people native to the Indian subcontinent, notably in the Northeast Indian states and Bangladesh. The majority of the Hajongs are settled in India. Hajongs are predominantly rice farmers. They are said to have brought wet-field cultivation to Garo Hills, where the Garo people used slash and burn method of agriculture. Hajong have the status of a Scheduled Tribe in India.
Hajong girls performing folk dance during the Hornbill Festival.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Hinduism, Dyaoism, Christianity|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Bodo-Kachari people, Bodo people, Garo people|
The Hajong belong to the Indo-Tibetan group. There are different opinions on the origin of the tribe, its name, and migration to India. Some authors, like evangelist Sidney Endle and B.C. Allen opined that the Hajongs are an offshoot of the greater "Bodo race", in accordance with both fundamentalist Christian and racialist theories of community popular at the time among the societies of European colonial powers. They had come from the Tibetan Plateau, modern day Qinghai, to North-east India along the Brahmaputra and Tista rivers and their tributaries and had spread over in the Sankush Valley. The Hajongs claim that their ancestral home was in Hajo area of present day Nalbari district of Assam. The meaning of 'Hajong' can be comprehended as 'descendants of Hajo'. According to a legend popularly prevalent among the Hajongs, they are Suryawanshi (Surjo bung-shi in Hajong) or the descendants of Surjo or Bila (the deity of the Sun) and are Kshatriyas. They are one of the least studied endogamous Bodo-Kachari tribe having a trans-border international presence in North-east India and in Bangladesh.
Clans of Hajong TribesEdit
The Hajongs have five different clans (Hajong Bhasa: Nikni). Marriage within the same clan is prohibited. Their culture slightly differs from clan to clan :
Hajongs are endogamous people. In Hajong society matriarchy declined with the influence of Hinduism, leading towards the growing dominance of patriarchy in Hajong society. Within Hajong culture, romantic love and widow remarriage was allowed, and monogamy was the norm for the Hajong people. Exorbitant dowry system was absent in the Hajong society. The Hajongs would give a tolerable bride price or groom price called pǒn. Widows are allowed to remarry and this type of marriage is called Hang'a or Sang'a in Hajong.
The Hajongs are Hindus and observe Hindu rites and customs. It is not known when the process of Hinduisation began. The animistic beliefs are still prevalent among the Hajongs. Not much is known about the customs and beliefs of their pre-Hindu period.
The Hajong people are spread out across northeast India and Bangladesh with the majority of the population on the India side of the border. In India, Hajongs are found in both the Garo and Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, largely along the South-West Garo Hills District of Meghalaya and Bangladesh border. They also live in the Dhubri and Goalpara districts of lower Assam, Dhemaji and other districts of upper Assam and into Arunachal Pradesh. In Bangladesh, Hajongs are found in the northern Dhaka division, although there are unconfirmed reports of some Hajong living in Chittagong division. The narrow strip of borderland that stretches from Sherpur district in the west as far Sunamganj district in the east can be considered the southern outpost of the greater Hajong community.
Hajong people have their own language which was originally a Tibeto-Burman language, but is now considered an Indo-Aryan language with Tibeto-Burman roots. It is spoken by more than 175,000 ethnic Hajong. It is written in the Eastern Nagari script and the Latin script. It has many Sanskrit loan words. Hajong phonology has an extra vowel /ɯ/ which is not present in other Indo-Aryan languages, but is typical for the Tibeto-Burman family. The phonology of Hajong includes some vowel harmony and the devoicing of final consonants.
Traditionally womenfolk chiefly wear Pathin, a wrap-around skirt that covered the upper and lower part of the body from the bust till the calf of the leg. Women in the upper class wore a long pathin which falls down to the floor while women in the lower class wore a shorter pathin which length reaches to the ankle. The pathin is a horizontally striped, colourful, rectangular piece of cloth with alternate layers of different colours between red stripes called kan and thick horizontal borders called chapa. Pathins are woven by women at their family looms known as Bana or Tath. It is operated with hands and does not require the usage of feet. The upper part of the body of the women is covered by a Parsa or Argon. Modern Hajong women occasionally wear 'Patin' to cover the lower part of the body from waist to ankle similar to Garo and Mizo tribes.
The menfolk cover their bodies with a hand wover piece of cloth called as Ningti, a loin cloth and Gamsa used to cover the lower part of the body and during winter use a scarf called kompes.
Some of the Traditional ornaments are :
- Harsurah or chondrohar - Silver necklace worn by women
- Katabaju - Pair of armlets made of silver.
- Galahicha - A Torc.
- Buila - Pair of bangles made of silver.
- Not - Nose ring made of gold.
- Nolok - a nose ring made of silver.
- Koromphul - A pair of earrings made of silver.
- Kankurya - A pair of earrings made of gold.
- Bak Gunjri or Gujurâti - A pair of ornaments worn by women around the ankles made of silver.
- Bak Kharu - A pair of ornaments worn by men around the legs made of silver.
The Hajongs have their own musical instruments namely Dhuluk, Khul, Rasamandali, Dotara etc.
- Dhuluk - A broad drum with membranes at each end played from two ends.
- Khul - Pair of small cymbals made of brass.
- Dotara - A stringed instrument.
- Dhapa kurtal - Cymbals.
- Hurindo - A traditional violin.
The Hajongs have a very rich culture. Hajong culture has greatly influenced and has had a tremendous impact on the language, clothing, and culture of other tribes like the Koches of Meghalaya, Banais and Dalus. Hajong women can be easily identified by their brightly striped red dress called a Pathin. Traditionally, and in many present-day villages, women are accomplished weavers who make their own Pathin, Phula Agon, Phula Kompes, Gamsa, and their household's clothing.
Traditional Hajong houses consist of separate buildings centered on a courtyard. Floors are earthen and walls are made of split bamboo plastered with cow dung. The buildings in a Hajong house are:
- Bhat ghor - dining hall and also a bedroom
- Akhli ghor - kitchen
- Kasri ghor - dormitory with provision for guests
- Khupra (Jura) ghor - bedroom for a married son or daughter
- Chang ghor - granary
- Dhiki ghor - husking house
- Guli ghor - cattle shed
- Diyao ghor - room for daily prayer and worship
In addition to the implements needed for rice farming, households have many bamboo fishing implements. The staple food is rice eaten with lentils and vegetables. For special occasions, rice is ground to a powder and used to make steamed or deep-fried rice cakes called pithâ. Tortoise is traditionally the favorite meat. The traditional Hajong dishes are:
- Dingpura - A type of sweet rice cooked in a special type of Bamboo
- Libahak - Made from ground rice
- Bukni Bhat - Fermented Rice
- Bisi Bhat - A type of sticky & sweet rice cooked on vapor
- Bhâtuwahak - Curry cooked with rice flour & rotten fish
- Putâmas - Small fish cooked by wrapping banana leave.
- Chunsâhak - Small quantity of vegetable cooked for special guest
- Tupla Bhat - Rice wrapped with banana leaves
- Kharpani - Vegetable boiled with dry fish and Soda
- Chungâhak - Curry cooked in bamboo with its mouth air tied
Traditional arts and craftsEdit
Hajon Art includes Birapat-Chhitâ which are painted on a wall of the Airo Ghor by Airo(s) on the Occasion of Wedding Ceremonies. In Birapat-Chhita aldo called 'Chan Bila Akawa' the Sun, Moon, Stars, birds, boats and palanquins are painted with powdered rice called pithli, vermilion and kohl. Other works of art is done in the preparation of Merr for Maroi Pujâ of the serpent Goddess Kani Diyao. In Merr various Gods and Goddesses and other auspicious objects are painted, intended for the worship of Kani Diyao. Another popular folk art among the hajongs is paper cutting. Paper cuttings with elaborate designs are hung on the doors during weddings and other festive occasions. Ceremonial banana trees are often decorated with intricate paper cuttings.
Festivals of Hajong TribesEdit
Hajong people celebrate Hindu festivals like Durga Puja and Kamakhya Puja. They also celebrate a few traditional festivals of their own. It is conducted by a Dyaoshi or Nungtang, a Hajong shaman. Bastu pujâ does not involve idol worship and is celebrated in a particular location outside the village premises. Another festival is called chormaga in Mymensingh and chorkhila in India. Chorkhila is celebrated during the month of October in South-West Garohills Districts of Meghalaya. During this festival, group of young people goes around from house to house in the village, or from village to village, playing music and performing folklores, sometimes stories from the Ramayana. The parties receive some rice or money in return for their performance. Since every person, young and old, comes out to watch the play, this is considered a chance to check out prospective brides and grooms. The Hajongs also celebrate their pre-monsoon harvest festival known as 'Biswâ'. Kani pujâ, Kâtkâ pujâ, are also performed.
Hajong people also practice some of their traditional religious rituals. The Hajongs believe in some evil spirits like Machang Dyao, Jarang Dyao, Bhut, Muilâ Dyao, Jugni Dyao, Daini etc. They adore and worship different gods and goddesses like Kali, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kamakhya, Manasa, Basanti and others. Kartik puja among the Hajongs are known as Kâtkâ pujâ and Manasa puja is known as Kani Dyao puja. The day of Lakshmi puja is referred to as 'Kujâi Ghor' . In Bastu Pujâ tortoises and pigeons are sacrificed for Bastu.
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