Origin of Bhotia Tribe
The term Bhotia has come from the word ‘Bhot’, the traditional name for people of Tibetan origin. The Bhotias have Mongoloid features and are known as ‘Pahari’ or hill people. They commonly converse in Hindi, Nepali, Kumaoni and Garhwali.
Society of Bhotia Tribe
The Bhotia community is primarily nomadic. The societal norms are relaxed too. But the best feature of this community is that both men and women are given equal footing in the social strata.
The six categories of this tribe are: Rang, Johari, Tolcha, Marcha and Jad. Rang and Johari Bhotias belong to Pithoragarh district. Tolcha and Marcha belong to the Chamoli district. Jad Bhotia is mainly found in Uttarkashi district.
Occupation of Bhotia Tribe
Trade has been the foundation of the Bhotia economy. They indulged in the Trans-Himalayan trade. They are dependent on share cropping. The Bhotias are an occupational caste of shepherds. Earlier the woollen industry was also a source of economy as they received enough raw wool from Tibet. The women of this tribe are good weavers of carpet, blankets and woollen clothes.
Religion of Bhotia Tribe
They differ in religion, physiognomy and customs both from the Tibetans and the Hindus. The Nanda Devi, Pancha Chuli and Badri-Kedar peaks are worshipped by them. There is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Nanda in Martoli where an annual fair is held in September.
The most popular of their deities is perhaps ‘Gabla’, the weather God who, on entreaty, dispels both rain and snow and brings fine weather. The shepherd Gods ‘Runiya’ and ‘Sain’ protect and cure their animals from disease. They make a constant effort to exclude malevolent spirits.
Culture of Bhotia Tribe
The Bhotias have a rich oral tradition of folk songs, dances and tales that they often share with other communities. ‘Chhura’ is a popular dance which portrays an experienced older man teaching a young shepherd the secrets of his trade. Both men and women participate in this dance.