(Last Updated on : 16/11/2010)
Chothe tribes are primarily found in the Chandel District
. They are closely associated with the Naga tribes. The word 'Chothe' literally refers to 'to bring or to hold a boy.' This tribal community is also identified by the names like Chothe, Chowte, Chawte.
Society of Chothe tribes
The modern times have witnessed changes in the social structure and customs of the Chothe tribes. Most of the ancient customs have been shunned by the tribal community. However, the marriage rituals are carried out by following the age-old norms despite the arrival of Christianity. Their livelihood depends on making bamboo baskets, collecting wood for fire from the forests and selling these items to the nearest markets. Some of them are also engaged in agriculture but the lands are owned by other communities.
Trading, too, has emerged as an important profession for the Chothe tribes. They have established trading links with the other North-East Indian tribes. Products like woven clothes, exquisite crafts are being made for selling in the market places of Manipur, namely, Pallel, Tengnoupal, Kakching and Imphal
One of the major problems faced by the Chothe tribal community is poverty. Financial constraints prevent them from acquiring education, proper diet, etc.
Regarding marriage customs, the ones followed by the Chothe tribes are unique. Among this tribal community there are bride-giver clans and bride taker clans. There are 7 major clans: Parpa, Thao, Mareem, Khiyaang, Rangshai, Makan and Yuhlung. A man cannot give his sisters in marriage to those clans from whom he is supposed to take his bride. Intercommunity marriages, especially, the Naga tribes, are also common.
Administration of Chothe Tribes
The villages where this tribal community resides, generally forms an executive body to look after the administration. An opposition is also formed to keep the executive body in check. The governing body of a Chothe village is called Hloukal. The opposition is known as Loumi. It is represented by the same clans of the community. The seven posts in this executive body are transferable from one clan to another. Whenever a new Chothe village is established its leaders are elected through competitions participated in by the representatives of each clan of the tribe. The posts are then allotted based on merit. The Loumi participate in all meetings called by the Hloukal. In fact, the Hloukal cannot take important decisions without the consent of Loumi. The Loumi also has the right to dismiss any member of Hloukal but only with the support of its own members and the elders of the village.
Culture of Chothe Tribes
Wizardry and belief in black magic still exists in the Chothe society. Though, today, the tribal community primarily follows Christianity but ancient traditions specify that Hindu deities were worshipped. Music is a constant companion whether in grief or sorrow. Hence dance and music are also part of death rituals. A number of festivals are celebrated by this tribal community. Sasuhang is the major festival. Mainly feted for good harvesting, each and every people take part in it. Apart from these Christmas
, New Year and Good Friday are also celebrated by the Chothe tribes.