(Last Updated on : 02/12/2010)
Garo tribes prefer to be called A'chik or Mande. The Garos regard themselves as the descendants of a common ancestress. The Garos are of the Mongoloid stock. Garo tribes are located mainly in Bardhaman district
, Cooch Bihar, Jalpaiguri and and Dinajpur of West Bengal
. They are also scattered in Karbi Anglong, Goalpara, Kamrup and Districts of Assam
Origin of Garo tribes
As per their earlier history, the Garos came to Meghalaya before 400 (BC) years from Tibet. They settled in the Valley of Brahmaputra River
. The main language spoken by these tribes is Garo, also known as Garrow and Mande. The Garo language belongs to the Bodo branch of the Bodo-Naga-Kachin family of the Sino-Tibetan phylum. As the Garo language is not traditionally written down, customs, traditions, and beliefs are handed down orally. It is also believed that the written language was lost in its transit to the present Garo Hills
. The Garo language has several divisions that are used among the Garos residing in each corner of India and abroad. The sub groups of Garo languages are known as Chibok, Megam, matabeng, ruga, Achik, ganching, Abeng, Atong, Dual, matchi, gara. The Garo language has some resemblance with languages like Rava, Kok-Borok, Boro-Kachari and Dimasa.
Society of Garo Tribes
A matrilocal and matrilineal society is prevalent among the Garo tribes. Decent and inheritance are reckoned through the mother. The woman enjoys a higher status in the society. Community ownership of property prevails in the Garo society. The Garo tribe is sub divided into different linguistic and cultural groups such as Aure, Chisak, Matchi-Dual, Metabeng, Ateng, Chibok, Ruga, Gara-Ganching, Megham, Dussani and Cheani. Monogamy is the general rule though Polygamy is allowed. Traditionally women were excluded from the village administration. They were treated as equivalent to that of children. Here however freedom of women does not mean that they disregard their social code of conduct. They feel that women should maintain the tradition and dignity of the society they belong. Widow Remarriage is prevalent amongst them. Among the Garos the right of inheritance belongs to the female members of the family. The Garo society does not prefer inter-caste marriage. Youth dormitory is found among the Garos which is known as Nokpanthes. The dormitories are smaller than other houses of the village and open at one end. The musical instruments are the property of these houses.
Occupation of Garo tribes
Jhum cultivation is the main occupation of the Garo tribe during harvest. The economic life of the Garo tribes revolves around agriculture and farming. The hills in this region are suitable only for Jhum cultivation. Paddy, cotton, maize, millet, pulses are grown.
Religion of Garo tribes
One of the religious beliefs of Garo tribes has been that the destiny of man from birth to death is governed by a host of malevolent and benevolent spirits. There are a huge section of Garo populace who has followed Baptism and Roman Catholicism. These Garo tribes follow almost all the rituals associated with this religion. Few of these Garo tribes are 'Seventh-day Adventists, Anglicans' and the rest belong to some of the newly formed 'denominations'. Following the tradition of most of the tribes of the region, there are several of Garo tribes who still follow their conventional Animist-Hindu norms and customs.
Dances of Garo tribes
Their dances can be categorised into two groups-Santalo chroka and Abani Kamrangko Mesokanirang. The Garo people are very fond of music and dance. Among the various types of songs that are performed by the Garo people are Pandu Dolong, Serejing, Nangorere and few more. Moreover, Mi Sua, Napsepgrika, Kambe Toa, Gaewang Roa, Ajema Roa, Chambil Moa, Dokru Sua etc are the different dance forms of the Garo tribes. The Garos use different types of musical instruments like Chordophone, Aerophone, Idiophones and Membranophone.
Garo society is in transition though the degree of transition is very low. Majority of the Garos prefer to live in a homogeneous society. The attitude of the Garo inclines towards traditional system. The Garo is still on the eve of stepping stone towards the development.