GARO
BODO
MEITEI
RABHA

THE GAROS

The Garos/A·chìks are an ethnic group spread throughout the entire North-East region of India, but are mainly concentrated in Meghalaya and in the adjoining districts of Kamrup, Goalpara and Karbi Anglong in Assam. A substantial number of them are also found in Tangail, Jamalpur, Sherpur, Netrakona, Gazipur, Rangpur, Sunamgonj, Sylhet, Moulovibazar districts of Bangladesh. Rev. Sidney Endle in his book The Kacharis placed the Garos in Southern Kachari group along with the Hojais, the Lalungs, the Dimasas, the Twipras and the Hajongs.

The Garo language (A·chìkku) belong to the Bodo-Garo (Baric) division of the Sino-Tibetan family. It has several different dialects like A·beng, Atong, Me·gam, Dual, Ruga, A·we, Chisak, Matchi, Matabeng, Gara Ganching and Chibok.

Oral tradition holds that the Garos first came to present day Garo Hills from Tibet about 400 BC. But according to some anthropologists, Garos descended from the north-east bank of Qinghai Lake about 3-5 thousand years ago..

The Garos established their first kingdom at Sambol A·ding (Erong Pahar), nearby Dakaitdol village, with Abrasen as its first king. The kingdom was said to have lasted till the end of the eighteenth century. Abrasen belonged to the Bangbong ma·chong ('sub-clan') and his queen belonged to the Gabil ma·chong ("Bangbonggreni de, Gabilni se"). The pargana of Habraghat was named after him.

THE BODOS

The Bodos are one of the 17 dominant ethnic groups belonging to the great Kachari race that inhabit the Brahmaputra valley since ancient times. Though they are spread all over North-East India and in neighbouring Bangladesh and Nepal, they are predominant in Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri districts of present-day Assam. In North Bengal and Nepal, they are known as Meches. Bodo language belong to the Bodo-Garo (Baric) division of the Sino-Tibetan language family and is closely related to Dimasa, Lalung/Tiwa, Garo and Kok-Borok languages.

The famed ancient kingdom of Purgajwngtipur (Pragjyotishpura, or "City of Eastern Lights") was first ruled by the Bodo king Mairong Raja (Mahiranga Danava), who founded the Danava Dynasty. The rulers of the Danava Dynasty were mentioned in the Kalika Purana.

There exist over 20 clans amongst the Bodos, structured traditionally according to division of labour. Listed here are some: Swargiary, Basumatary, Mushahary/Mooshahari, Daimary/Dwimary, Narzary, Khakhlary, Mohilary, Goyari, Ramchiary, Lahary, Islary, Owary, Hajowary, Baglary, Phadangari, Borgoyari, Chamframary, Dingary, Kherkatary. The Brahma surname is said to have originated in 1906; it is a quasi-priestly clan.

Bwisagu is the major seasonal festival celebrated by the Bodos. Their popular folk dance is known as the Bagurumba (also pronounced as "Bagurungba"), which mimics the movements of the fluttering butterflies, and hence is also referred to as the "Butterfly Dance".

THE RABHAS

The Rabhas (or Ravas) are an ethnic group belonging to the Kachari race that originate from the Dooars. Today, they are present in the states of Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal. In Meghalaya, the Rabhas live mainly alongside the Garos in the districts of Garo Hills. In Assam, they are dominant in the districts of Goalpara and Kamrup. In West Bengal, they are concentrated in Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts.

The Rabha language belong to the Koch subgroup of the Bodo-Koch division of the Sino-Tibetan language family.

Rev. Sidney Endle in his book The Kacharis listed seven of their recognized sub-tribes: Rangdani/Rongdani, Maitariya/Maitori, Pati, Koch (Pani Koch), Bitliya/Bitlia, Dahuriya/Dahori and Sangha/Hana. However, Totla and Chunga groups also form part of the Rabha community. The Rangdani/Rongdani dialect is the most dominant, and it was in this dialect that one of their earliest literary work Markni Nima Saikai, a translation of the Holy Gospel of St. Mark, was written in 1909. Rangdani Rabhas are mainly concentrated in southern areas of Goalpara district like Lakhipur, Balijana, Matia, Dudhnoi, Rangjuli and Dhupdhara and in the adjoining areas of North Garo Hills like Resu, Mendi, Harinkata, Manikanj and Thapa. The Rabhas from Tikrikila in Garo Hills are Maitori Rabhas. Dahori Rabhas are found in Jogigopha and Pancharatna areas.

Rabha girls learn traditional weaving from a very young age; it is part of their culture. Two of the popular folk-dances amongst the Rabhas are the Hamjar dance, which is about paddy cultivation, and the Farkanti dance, which is performed to cheer up the family of the recently deceased.

THE MEITEIS

The Meiteis are a major ethnic group in Manipur (also known as Kangleipak). They are also present in the adjoining states of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura and also in the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar. The Meitei language, known as Meiteilon, belong to the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. They also have their own indigenous script known as Meetei Mayek

The Kingdom of Kangleipak was founded by King Loiyumba in AD 1110. The kingdom was known to the Shans as Kase, and to the Burmese as Kathe/Cassey. The Kangla Palace/Fort was built in AD 1632 by King Khagemba. And it was in AD 1724 that the kingdom was christened as Manipur ("the Abode of Jewels"). The kingdom came under the British rule in AD 1891, and it was only in AD 1949 it became part of the Republic of India..

There are seven clans (locally known as salais) in the Meitei society: Ningthouja (Mangang), Angom, Khuman, Luwang, Moirang, Sarang Keishamthem and Kha-Nganba. The chief of the Ningthouja clan, Pakhangba, unified all the other clans in the 15th century and ushered his royal lineage.

The sport of polo originated at Kangleipak, where it is known as Sagol Kanjei. An account of the sport played between the friends of King Ngonda Lairen Pakhangba (AD 33-154) was recorded in their royal chronicle Cheitharon Kumpapa.

Their premier festival is known as Yaoshang and is celebrated for 5 days in the month Lamda (February–March).