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Garo Tribe People in Meghalaya

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    The Garos are a tribal people in Meghalaya, India and neighboring areas of Bangladesh, who call themselves A·chik Mande (literally “hill people,” from a·chik “hill” + mande “people”) or simply A·chik or Mande. [1] They are the second-largest tribe in Meghalaya after theKhasi and comprise about a third of the local population. The Garo community is one of the major tribes in Bangladesh. According to the history books, the Garo tribe entered Bangladesh in the first century. They were refugees from Mongolia and came to this region through Tibet. The Garo have stayed in Bangladesh for thousands of years.

    Religion Initially, they followed a religion called Sonatoni; during the British rule in this subcontinent they came to Christ. Today, nearly 100 percent of the Garo tribe practices Christianity, though a few still believe in Sonatoni. Geographical distribution The Garos are mainly found ingreater Mymensingh (Tangail, Jamalpur, Sherpore, Netrakona) and Gazipur, Rangpur, Sunamgonj, Sylhet, Moulovibazar district of Bangladesh. Language Garo language has different sub-languages, Viz- A·beng, Matabeng, Atong, Me·gam, Matchi, Dual [Matchi-Dual]Ruga, Chibok, Chisak, Gara, Gan·ching [Gara-Gan·ching] A·we etc.

    In Bangladesh A·beng is the usual dialect, but A·chik is used more in India. The Garo language has some similarities with Boro-Kachari, Rava, Dimasa and Kok-Borok languages. Culture The Garos are one of the few remaining matrilineal societies in the world. The individuals take their clan titles from their mothers. After getting married, the man lives in his wife’s house. the culture of modern Garo community has been greatly influenced by Christianity. Nokpantes are glory of the past and all children are given equal care, rights and importance by the modern parents.

    Ornaments: Both men and women enjoy adorning themselves with varieties of ornaments. These ornaments are: Nadongbi or sisha – made of a brass ring worn in the lobe of the ear. Nadirong – brass ring worn in the upper part of the ear Natapsi – string of beads worn in the upper part of the ear Jaksan – Bangles of different materials and sizes Ripok – Necklaces made of long barrel shaped beads of cornelian or red glass while some are made out of brass or silver and are worn in special occasions. Jaksil – elbow ring worn by rich men on Gana Ceremonies

    Penta – small piece of ivory struck into the upper part of the ear projecting upwards parallel to the side of the head Seng’ki – Waistband consisting of several rows of conch-shells worn by womenPilne – head ornament worn during the dances only by the women Weapons: Garos have their own weapons. One of the principal weapons is a two-edged sword called millam made of one piece of iron from hilt to point. There is a cross-bar between the hilt and the blade where attached a bunch of ox’s tail-hair. Other types of weapons are shields, spear, bows and arrows, axes, daggers etc Food and drink: The staple cereal food is rice.

    They also eat millet, maize, tapioca etc. Garos are very liberal in their food habits. They rear goats, pigs, fowls, ducks etc. and relish their meat. They also eat other wild animal like deer, bison, wild pigs etc. Fish, prawns, crabs, eels and dry fish also are a part of their food. Their jhum fields and the forests provide them with a number of vegetables and root for their curry but bamboo shoots are esteemed as a delicacy. They use a kind of potash in curries, which they obtained by burning dry pieces of plaintain stems or young bamboos locally known as Kalchi or Katchi.

    After they are burnt, the ashes are collected and are dipped in water and are strained in conical shaped in bamboo strainer. These days most of the town people use soda from the market in place of this ash water. Apart from other drinks country liquor plays an important role in the life of the Garos. Garo Architecture: Generally one finds the similar type of arts and architecture in the whole of Garo Hills. They normally use locally available building materials like timbers, bamboo, cane and thatch. Garo architecture can be classified into following categories: Nokmong, Nokpante, Jamdap, Jamatdal Festivals:

    The common and regular festivals are those connected with agricultural operations. Greatest among Garo festivals is the Wangala, usually celebrated in October or November, is thank-giving after harvest in which Saljong, the god who provides mankind with Nature’s bounties and ensures their prosperity, is honored. Other festivals: Gal·mak Doa, Agalmaka, etc. Wangala of Asanang: There is a celebration of 100 drum festival in Asanang near Tura in West Garo Hills, Meghalaya, India usually in the month of October or November. Thousands of people especially the young people gather at Asanang and celebrate Wangala with great joy.

    Beautiful Garo girls known as nomil and handsome young men pantetake part in ‘Wangala’ festivals. The ‘pante’s beat a kind of long drum called dama in groups and play bamboo flute. The ‘nomil’s with colorful costume dance to the tune of dama’ ‘and folk songs in a circle. Most of the folk songs depict ordinary garo life, God’s blessings, beauty of nature, day to day struggles, romance and human aspirations. Christmas: Though Christmas is basically a religious celebration, in Garo Hills the month of December is a great season of celebration.

    In the first week of December the town of Tura and all other smaller towns are illuminated with lights and celebration goes till about 10 January. The celebration is featured by worship, dance, merry-making, grand feasts and social visits. People from all religions and sections take part in the Christmas celebration. Tallest Christmas Tree of the World: In December 2003 the tallest Christmas tree of the world was erected at Dobasipara, Tura by the Baptist boys of Dobasipara. Its height was 119. 3 feet, covered by BBC and widely broadcast on television.

    The tree was decorated with 16,319 colored light bulbs; it took about 14 days to complete the decoration. The annual winter festival AHAIA: The festival, conceptualised in 2008, is aimed to promote and brand this part of the region as a popular tourist destination vis-a-vis giving an opportunity for the regional people to showcase their skills and expertise. The three-day fest features a gala event with carnival, cultural show, food festival, rock concert, wine festival, angling competition, ethnic wear competition, children’s fancy dress, DJ Nite, exhibitions, housie housie and other games.

    The entry forms for carnival and other events are available at the Tourist Office, Tura. Music and Dance: Group songs may include Ku·dare sala, Hoa ring·a, Injoka, Kore doka, Ajea, Doroa, Nanggorere goserong, Dim dim chong dading chong, Serejing, Boel sala etc. Dance forms are Ajema Roa, Mi Su·a, Chambil Moa, Do·kru Sua, Chame mikkang nia, Kambe Toa, Gaewang Roa, Napsepgrika and many others. The traditional Garo musical instruments can broadly be classified into four groups. [5] Idiophones: Self-sounding and made of resonant materials – Kakwa, Nanggilsi, Guridomik, Kamaljakmora, all kinds of gongs, Rangkilding, Rangbong, Nogri etc.

    Aerophone: Wind instruments, whose sound come from air vibrating inside a pipe when is blown –Adil, Singga, Sanai, Kal, Bolbijak, Illep or Illip, Olongna, Tarabeng, Imbanggi, Akok or Dakok, Bangsi rori, Tilara or Taragaku, Bangsi mande, Otekra, Wa·pepe or Wa·pek. Chordophone: Stringed instrument – Dotrong, Sarenda, Chigring or Bagring, Dimchrang or Kimjim, Gongmima or Gonggina. Membranophone: Which have skins or membranes stretched over a frame – Am·beng Dama, Chisak Dama, Atong Dama, Garaganching Dama, Ruga and Chibok Dama, Dual-Matchi Dama, Nagra, Kram etc.

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    Garo Tribe People in Meghalaya

    Frequently Asked Questions

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    How many tribes are there in Garo?
    But though Garos are ridden with dialectical groups and varied cultural traits, their roots are basically the same and all of them have the same tribal consciousness. There are five clans or exogamous steps called chatchi among the Garos, with a number of sub-clans called Ma·chong.
    What is the lifestyle of Garo tribe?
    The economic life of the Garo tribes revolves around agriculture and farming. Garo hills are suitable for cultivation where paddy, cotton, maize, millet, pulses are grown. In Garo tribes, women are the owners of property, making Garo a matrilineal society.

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