Bodo-Kachari Tribes of Assam - Marriage system and Traditional festivals of the tribe | Assam Journal

Bodo-Kachari Tribes of Assam - Marriage system and Traditional festivals of the tribe

The Bodo-Kachari tribe is a branch of the great Bodo group of the Indo-Mongoloid family which are commonly known as the Boro-Kacharis. They are also popularly known as Sonowal-Kachari and Thengal-Kachari in Upper Assam while in western part of the state they are familiar as the Bodo or Bodo-Kachari. According to the census of 1971, 45.4% of the total tribal population of the state comprises of these tribes of people whereas the literacy rate was recorded as 23.51% in the census. The mode of living of the tribe in compact villages and putting barriers all around the homestead is a common sight to see. The Bodo Kacharis are now mainly and largely concentrated in Kokrajhar district including some other parts of Kamrup and Darrang district of Assam.

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Marriage System of Bodo-Kachari Tribes

The Bodo Kacharis constitute a patrilineal group that comprises a number of certain exogamous clans. The marriage is possible among the same clan only and they mainly reflects itself as a civil contract rather than all the sacrament as involved in the marriage systems of the Hindus. There are three types of marriage systems existing among the tribes which can be listed as follows:-

  • Chawdang Jagarnay or marriage by servitude
  • Hethachuni or marriage by negotiation
  • Dhoka or Widow marriage.

In Servitude or Chawdang Jagarnay marriage system, the groom is to render physical labour for one year in the home of father-in-laws where the period for the same may be extended depending upon the degree of satisfaction. Now-a-days, this marriage system is not familiar among the tribes and seems to be discontinued. In the marriage by Negotiation or Hethachuni, the man entertaining a would be son-in-law must give by will 1/8th portion of his property in the name of his daughter while in the case of widow remarriage, the widower must cut off the patrilineal relations and conduct himself to the clan of the widow. Among the tribe, there is no bar for Junior Levirate marriage while the Senior Levirate Marriage is strictly prohibited. In the "Khar Chanai" marriage system, the girl usually goes voluntarily to a man of her choice with the intention of putting up with the person as husband and wife to live together.

Festivals of Bodo-Kachari Tribes - An overview

There are a number of traditional festivals that are commonly celebrated by the Bodo-Kachari tribes. Some of these important festivals can be listed below:-

"Baisagu" is the most important festival of the Bodo-Kachari people which is celebrated in the months of Baisakh or Bohag month (Mid April) of the Assamese Calender. Like Assamese people, they also celebrate two types of Bihu festivals i.e. Domashi which is the Magh or Bhogali Bihu and Katrigasha that is known as Kati or Kangali Bihu. The Baisagu is the most important festival of the tribe with the cow worship where the supreme deity "Bathou" is worshipped by offering chicken and rice beer. The community singing and dancing is the main attraction of the festival which is continued up to 7 days.

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Mr.Prasanta - who is the well-wisher and correspondent of Assam Journal.
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