The total population of Assam in 2011 Census has been 31,169,272. Of them Scheduled Tribes (STs), constitutes 12.4 per cent of the total population of the state. There are total twenty three (23) notified STs in the state.
Population: Size & Distribution
Among STs, Boro represents nearly half of the total ST population of the state (40.9 per cent). Miri (17.8 per cent), Mikir (10.7 per cent), Rabha (8.4 per cent), Kachari (i.e. Sonowal Kachari) (7.1 per cent), and Lalung (5.2 per cent) are the other major STs each having 5 per cent or above of total STs. Along with Boro they constitute 90 per cent ST population of the state. Besides them, Dimasa constitutes 3.4 per cent and Deori 1.2 per cent of the total ST population of the state. The rest of the Scheduled Tribes are very small in their population size.
The ST population in Assam is predominantly rural with 95.3 per cent rural and only 4.7 per cent urban population. Of the eight major STs, Dimasa have recorded the highest 10.4 per cent urban population, followed by Mikir (8.3 per cent). On the other hand Miri have recorded the lowest 1.8 per cent urban population.
North Cachar Hills and Karbi Anglong the two autonomous hill districts of Assam are predominantly tribal housing two important STs of Assam – the Dimasa and Mikir (now recognized as Karbi). As per 2001 Census, the North Cachar Hills has got the highest 68.3 per cent ST population, followed by Karbi Anglong (55.7 per cent). In absolute number Karbi Anglong is on top sharing 13.7 per cent of the total ST population . Hailakandi, Karimganj, and Cachar districts have a negligible presence of ST population.
Major tribes are
The Bodo are a people mostly living in Assam in India, mainly in the north region of the Brahmaputra River Valley. They also live in Bangladesh. The Bodo are wanting to be a self-ruling state and this has been and is causing disputes and much trouble as a result.
The Bodo speak in a Tibeto-Burmese language and they read and write in Devanagari. They eat rice and fish and pork. They like to drink rice wine. The Bodo like to dance. The Bodo do weaving and also make bamboo items. Many are farmers. They have many tribes and were once dominant in Assam.
Some of the Bodo follow Brahmoism which is a Hindu reform movement. Amongst the Bodo there are Christians too. Some of the Bodo follow Bathouism in which they worship ancestors. They believe that people come from a mixture of sky, earth, air, water and fire. They like to worship near home or in a courtyard. Betel leaves and rice are used for example as offerings. Their most important festival is called Kherai Puja and the altar is put in a rice field. Bathoubwrai is the main deity in Bathouism.
Miris have cross-cousin marriages. Cultivation and fishing are their main work. They also work as laborers in agriculture. They speak a Tibeto-Burman language and Hindi too. Meat is eaten by them except beef and they have rice as a cereal.
The dead are buried away from the village they live in. They have a traditional community council to look after them. They are Hindus by religion.
The Mishing are also animists. Mishing means man of worthiness. The bereaved can marry again. There houses are built on stilts.
The Karbis mentioned as the Mikirs in the Constitution Order, Govt. of India, constitute an important ethnic group in the hill areas of Assam. However, they never call themselves Mikir but call themselves Karbi and sometimes Arlengwhich literally means a man.
Although at present, they are found to inhabit in the Karbi Anglong District, nevertheless, some Karbi inhabited pockets are found in the North Cachar Hills, Kamrup, Morigaon, Nagaon and Sonitpur Districts also. Racially the Karbis belong to the Mongoloid group and linguistically they belong to the Tibeto-Burman group.
From the point of view of habitation, the Karbis are divided into 3(three) groups namely ‘CHINTHONG‘, ‘RONGHANG’ and ‘AMRI’. These groups are otherwise known as Chinthong, Nilip-Ronghang and Amri Marlong. Those who live in the plains districts are called ‘DUMRALI’. Fundamentally, these groups do not differ each other and they should not be confused with clans.
The Sonowal Kacharis are one of the scheduled Bodo tribes (plains) of Assam. They are concentrated monthly in the districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Golaghat, Jorhat Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Sivasagar. Their population is estimated around 2 lakh. Agriculture is the main occupation of the Sonowal Kacharis. They are mostly cultivators, so, their economy mainy base on agriculture. Every family has sufficient land for agriculture. At least one grannary is seen in every house. They practise both ‘Ahu’ and ‘Sali’ paddy.
The poultry is a very popular practice among Sonowal Kacharis. They rears hens and ducks. Cattle rearing is also an another important practice among them.
Monogramy is the most popular form of marriage but acquiring more than one wives is permissible if the first wife gives her consent to it due to some reasons. The practice of inter-caste marriage is not rare. Though this system of marriage is generally not supported by the parents yet it is seen that there is no hard and fast rule regarding this matter.
In case, a Sonowal Kachari girl marries a boy of other caste then their society accepted them easily. Now-a-days bride-price among Sonowal Kacharis is not accepted. In the present day society, five type of marriages are performed among them.
Tiwas live on the flat lands of the Southern bank of the Brahmaputra valley, mostly in Morigaon, Nagaon, Kamrup & Kamrup (M) districts. The vast majority speaks Assamese as their mother tongue, Tiwa language being still spoken on the foothills and in rare villages of the plains. Their descent system is definitely patrilineal. Their patronymics does not consist in their clan’s names but in common Assamese/Other ethnic Tribes surname-names instead (mostly Pator, Bordoloi, Konwar, Das, Kakoti, Deka, Dewri/Deuri/Deory etc). Their religion share many elements with Assamese Hinduism, but remains specific.
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