Origin of Nocte Tribe
Etymologically ‘Nocte’ means people living in an organized community. In the Ahom and early British periods, Nocte tribes were referred to as Borduarias, Panduarias, Namsangia and Jaipurias. They had come into close contact with general people in the middle of the 19th Century. The Noctes belong to the Mongoloid type. Nocte tribes had close relation with the Naga tribal communities. The society is divided into two - The Royal Lowang Kepi and the Tangmo. Each class consists of many lineage groups called 'Ku' or 'Ru'.
Society of Nocte Tribe
Nocte society is based on patrilineal principles. The basic unit of Nocte tribe is the clan. It is organized under a chief known as ‘Lowang’ who controls a village. The chief and his descendent form a separate class called ‘Lowang Jat’ while the commoners are called ‘Sana Jat’. There is a prohibition of marriage between the members of different clans within a Chump. Nocte society is basically a male dominated society. Women have to remain under the control of male members. They do not enjoy any individual liberty. They have no right over the property of their husband as the society is patrilineal, patriarchal and patrilocal in nature.
Agriculture of Nocte Tribe
The Nocte tribe's traditional economy is shifting cultivation, hunting, gathering and fishing. Since last two decades some of them have started wet or permanent cultivation. In this cultivation paddy, millet, arum, tapioca and few local pulses are grown.
Religious Life of Nocte Tribe
The Nocte tribes follow Vaishnavism. However their life is influenced by deep-rooted beliefs in a number of supernatural spirits and deities. The deities are both malevolent and benevolent in character. The household deities are benevolent. The Nocte tribes are very pious. They practice 'Animism' and a sect of Buddhism. However, quite a lot of Nocte tribes came under the influence of Shri Shankar Deva and took up Hinduism in the 18th century. There are several local deities whom they worship with reverence and appease them. 'Jauban' is a significant one.
Festivals of Nocte Tribe
Amongst various festivals that these Nocte tribes fete, ‘Loku’ is the major one. It is a grand festival of the Nocte tribe. This is a harvest festival which is celebrated with great pomp and show. Chalo dances of the Nocte tribe add colour to the festivities. This is three days long festival. Slaughtering of cattle, amusement and also food gathering are the rituals held on first day of the festival.
Costumes of Nocte Tribe
The men folk shave their hair in the frontal area of the head, and the hair tussock at the back is tied into a roll of hair worn at the nape of the neck, known as 'chignon'. The womenfolk will keep their long coloured hair plaits knotted into a bun at the back of the neck. However, it is customary for Nocte widows to keep their hair short unless and until they remarry. To beat the sultry heat of summer seasons, the men folk will wear a ‘loincloth’ in front along with numerous cane belts, there by acting as ‘waistband’. Ivory bamboo slips and armlets are also worn on both legs and arms. The women have got unique sets of attires for themselves.