Before we take you through the tribes in Assam, Do you have the question in your mind “ who are tribes? It is a group of people who live geographically isolated lives and are traditional and ritual-driven people. Assam is a beautiful state in the northeast region of India which is popularly known for Assam tea and Assam’s silk. Assam was the region for the first oil drilling in Asia. Assam is also the homeland of one-horned Indian rhinoceros. Not only rhinoceros you can find buffalo, tiger, pygmy hog, and Asiatic birds here amidst the beauty of greenery. It is also a habitat for Asian Elephants. Assam is the region of maximum rainfall among the Indian states. It has many world heritage sites which attract tourists from all around the world.
Tribes of Assam
Assam is considered to be the blend of many cultures including 18 major tribes that have settled in Assam by coming from different places. Assam people are referred to as Asomiya, which is also the name of the language that the tribe in Assam speaks. Assam is believed to be the inter-racial mixture where you can find: Mongolian, Indo Burmese, and Aryan origin. Hilly regions of Assam are mostly taken by Mongolian tribes.
Types of Tribe in Assam
As there are many types of tribes in India, each state has its own tribe also. Assam is in its own regard as a state with a diverse population and rich culture. Thus the culture of Assam is revered and preserved. As already discussed earlier, the number of tribes in Assam is 18, and they peacefully co-exist in Assam, each tribe has its own tradition, values, and rituals that they follow and this is what makes each of them beautiful. Naming few are tea tribes of Assam, Bodo tribes of Assam. We will take you through the tribes and intriguing things about them.
Karbis is believed to have the racial origin of the Mongoloid group but linguistically they belong to the Tibeto-Burman group. It is also believed that they came from central Asia during the first wave of migration. They are divided into three groups on the basis of their habitat: Amri, Chinthong, and Ranghang. The religious orientation of Karbi is animist but now slowly and steadily they have started to follow the Hindu religion, few tenets of Christianity and Vaishnava. Rongker and Hacha Kekar are the two festivals of the Karbi tribe which have agricultural significance. These festivals are celebrated with dance performances and feasting where everyone enjoys.
2. Tea Tribe
They are called Adivasis because they were bought by the British colonial planters to use their cheap labor. They were brought to Assam from Chota Nagpur which was then under the British raj. They are present in every region of Assam, but their population in a region depends upon the tea- plantation. A few of the major such tribes are- Munda, Chik Baraik, Gonds, Tantis, Santhals, Kurukh, Saoraetc. They celebrate all occasions with live music and dance. Events like weddings, the arrival of seasons, and harvest are celebrated with great joy. Dance and music are a way for them to portray their social issues, their history, and their daily lifestyle.
They are one of the oldest Kuki tribes in the whole region of northeast India. You can find them mainly in Karbi, Chachar, and Dima Hasao regions of Assam. But they are also found in other states like Nagaland and Meghalaya. They celebrate different festivals that are associated with their god and goddess. Rabkhat and Parsem are such festivals that the tribe enjoys with good food, dance, and music. For their livelihood, they are solely dependent on agriculture. Thus to worship nature they have the ceremony called, Rubuthum. And family perform this to bring peace to their kinship
This tribe can be found in different countries:- India and China. In Assam, they live in Tinsukia, Sivasagar, Golaghat, and Jorhat district. They are called with different names in different areas. Like they are called Jingpo in China and Kahchin in Burma. By religion, they are Theravada Buddhists. Singpho is considered to be the group of people who gave the idea of tea to the British people. Plantation of tea is their main source of livelihood but they also depend on yum, and other edible staple food. The houses that they make are in an oval form where the first floor is used as storage and stable, and the second floor is used for living purposes.
5. Tiwa Tribe
They are referred to as Lalungs in the literature of Assam. You can find them in the parts of Assam and Meghalaya. Because of the region they live in, Tiwa is categorized into 2 groups:- hill Tiwas and Plain Tiwas, they also picturise two different cultures. The language they prefer speaking is Tibeto- Burman Language. Tiwa tribe follow the “Gobha”, who was their king and whose territory belonged to more and less Tiwa culture. Their Gobha and the Tiwa Tribe are the mediators between hills and plains in the Assam region. All of this is depicted in the literature and the cultural melas that take place during the festive season.
You can find the Deori tribe at the edge of the Brahmaputra river. They are found in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Nagaland. The language that they speak is Tibeto-Burman. Deori Tribe has managed to keep them away from bleeding with other racial groups and have avoided marrying other Bodo tribes. Their houses are made of wood and bamboo facing the river. What is unique about them is that the whole family lives under one roof, so at a time even a hundred people live under the same roof Today most of them are Hindu and other remains are Buddhist. They celebrate two festival in a year which is: “Ibaku Bisu ” in April and in January “Magiyo Bisu”. Both the festivals are related to agricultural activity. And these are celebrated to thank the nature earth. Through these festivals they are also able to celebrate as a big unit, making their tribe more strong.
Tribes of Meghalaya
In Meghalaya, you can find three major tribes: Garo, Khasi tribe, and Jaintia. All three have distinctive cultures and traditions. Garo lives on the east hill of the Meghalaya and the Khasi tribe lives on the west hills of Meghalaya. Jaintia as the name suggests lives in the hills which are named Jaintia. The unique culture of this tribe is that the society is matrilineal, that is the mother or the female is the head of the family. Here the surname of the mother is used by the kids. Women take the responsibility of the household and men to take care of the materialistic need of the family by doing work. But there is no restriction on the women with regard to the work. If they want to work then they are allowed to. But one restriction is that the members of these tribes cannot marry somebody outside their clan, They have to marry within the clan with the permission of their family members.
Tribes of Nagaland
70 percent of the population of Nagaland depends on agriculture. Thus it is considered as the state of agriculture. Nagaland people belong to the Mongolian group who are living in the areas of northeastern hills and the upper part of Myanmar. The main tribes that you will able to recognize are:- Kuki, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Chakhesang, Khiamniungan, Yimchungru, Sangtam, Sumi, Pochury, Rengma, Angami, Ao, and Zeliang. Not only tribes differ from each other but also they differ on the basis of the region they live in. They come under the Tiebto- Burma family Nagaland has a diverse population including the tribes mentioned above. These tribes have their own festivities and their own way of celebration.
Tribes of Mizoram
Mizoram is known for its evergreen hills and bamboo jungle which are dense. It is a great tourist place due to its festivities, dance performance, handicrafts, flora, and fauna, its natural beauty because of the greenery it has all around. It has a Tam lake which is known for fish and prawns and this becomes an ideal and perfect picnic spot for the people there and for the visitors coming to capture the beauty of Mizoram. There is a Mizoram State Museum in the Aizawl areas, it offers a picture of the history, culture, and tradition of Mizoram. Mizoram comprises 5 major tribes and 11 minor tribes collectively known as Awzia. The major tribes are:- Hmar, Powai, Lushei, Ralte and Paihte.
It is said that India is a diverse country with different types of states following different cultures. But don’t miss out on our beautiful states which have diversity within them, They have diverse populations that have different cultures, values, traditions, and rituals. Each state has a number of tribes that are living the simplistic life enjoying their dance, music, and festivity. For UPSC preparation knowing about tribes are really important, so you can take out your pen and pencil and write down the notes while reading this