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Bodo, the earliest settlers of Assam

Known to be the earliest settlers of Assam and the first to cultivate rice and rear silkworms in Assam, the Bodos speak the Bodo language. The word 'Bodo' has been derived from the word 'Bod' which means Tibet.

They 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. The Bodos living in West Bengal, Nepal are called Mech (pronounced 'Meche' in Nepal). The Bodos use the term Bodosa (which is pronounced as Borosa meaning son of Bodo) to describe themselves.

The Boro language is one of the languages of the Sino-Tibetan or Tibeto-Chinese speech family. It belongs to the Boro, Naga group of the Assam-Burmese branch of the Sino Tibetan family.

Bodos traditionally practise Bathouism, which is the worshipping of forefathers, known as Obonglaoree. The Shijou plant (Euphorbia genus) is taken as the symbol of Bathou and worshipped. 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 rings 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 the 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.

Bodo culture is influenced by the land and the surroundings where they currently live. For long, Bodos are known as farmers, agriculturist community with a strong tradition of fishery, poultry, piggery, rice and jute cultivation, and betel nut plantation. Bodos also cultivate mustards and corns. They also make their own clothing from scratch, such as traditional attires. In recent decades, Bodos are influenced by recent social reforms under Brahma Dharma and the spread of Christianity.

The Bodos traditionally dance the Bagurumba. This dance is accompanied by the Bagurumba song which goes like this: Bagurumba, Hai Bagurumba jat nonga bla khul nonga bla thab brum homnanwi bamnanwi lagowmwn kha hwi lwgw lagowmwn kha...

Moreover there are about 15/18 kinds of Kherai Dance like Rwn Swndri, Gorai Dabrainai, Dao Thwi Lwngnai, Khwijema Fonai, Mwsaglangnai, etc.

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