Ahom religion

The Ahom religion or Tai-Ahom Religion is the ethnic religion of the Ahom people. The Ahom people came into Assam in 1228, led by a Tai prince Sukaphaa, and admixed with the local people. The people who came into Assam included two clans of priests, joined later by a third, who brought with them their own religion, rituals, practices and scriptures. The religion is based on ritual-oriented ancestor worship[1] that required animal sacrifice (Ban-Phi),[2] though there was at least one Buddhism influenced ritual in which sacrifice was forbidden (Phuralung).[3]. Ancestor worship and the animistic concept of khwan are two elements it shares with other Tai folk religions.[4] There is no idolatry except for the titular god of the Ahom king[5] and though there is a concept of heaven or a heavenly kingdom[6]), there is no concept of hell.[7] It was the state religion of the Ahom kingdom in the initial period.

The Ahom kingdom expanded suddenly in the 16th-century and the Ahom peoples became a small minority in their own kingdom—though they continued to wield control. Subsequently, they slowly converted and by the early 19th-century, Ahom religion declined to be replaced by Hinduism. In the 1931 survey, all Ahoms returned Hinduism as their religion.[8] Nevertheless, since the 1960s and 1970s due to an Ahom revivalism movement, as well as efforts from scholars, many of the older practices of the Ahom religion are being resurrected.

The three priestly clans (Mo'sam, Mo'hung, Mo'Plong) of the Ahom people are the current custodians of the Ahom religion.[9]

Ahom Religion
Regions with significant populations
Assam
Scriptures
Lit Lai Peyn Kaka, Lai Lit Nang Hoon Pha, Lai-Phala, Phra-Long (Buddhist),
Languages
Ahom language
Ethnic religion of the Ahom people

Dam-Phi (ancestor worship)

Dam-Phi (Dam: dead; Phi: god) is the worship of ancestors as gods and it is performed either in individual households (Dam-Phi) or publicly (Me-Dam-Me-Phi). The dead in Ahom society becomes a Dam (literally, 'spirit of the dead').[10] They are held in awe (fear, wonder, and reverence); worshipped and propitiated for protection.[11] After the fourteenth generation a Dam becomes a god (Phi) and is worshiped by the whole community.[12] There are three grades of Dams graded according to the generation (with the highest living generation numbered one) and the circumstances of death, and they progress from one grade to the next.

Griha Dam

The head of the household and his wife or the parents are called the Na Dam ("new Dam", 2nd generation), the next higher generation the Ghai Dam ("main Dam", 3rd generation) and the next higher generation the Chi rwan Dam (4th generation). Each Dam is complete only when both the husband and wife are dead. These three Dams constitute the Griha Dam. Those who die unnaturally, without children or unmarried are called Jokorua Dam and are not included in the Griha Dam and treated and worshipped differently.[13]

The household Dams reside in the North-east pillar of the kitchen, Pho Kam (Assamese: Dam Khuta), which is usually raised first during the construction of the house and is considered most sacred place in the entire house.[14] The Dam Phi rituals are directed at the Pho Kam.[15] The household deity, Sheng Ka Pha, is also worshiped at the Pho Kam.[16]

Chang Dam

The next nine generations of Dams (5th to 13th) constitute Chang Dam, the Dams who have been let out of the house into the threshold;[17] and are worshiped according to special rites, called na puruxor saul khua (feast for nine generations).

Chao Phi Dam

This is the final stage for Dams and in this stage, the Dams (14th and above) are considered to have become gods (Phi) and merged with original forefathers of the entire community collectively called Chao Phi Dam. In this class of Dams the two evil deities, Ra Khin and Ba Khin too belong, but they are worshipped with lower status and separately.[18] The Jokorua Dams in the fourteenth generation become Khin and join these two deities.[19]

Gods and cosmogony

As mentioned in Ahom Scripture Lit Lai Peyn Kaka At first, there was nothing besides the water of the ocean. Pha Tu Ching Which is an Omnipotent shapeless, impersonal God Almighty[20]; opened his eyes to the void, and thus created from his breast the first deity—Khun Theu Kham. Freshly created, and finding nothing to lean on, Khun Theu Kham dove into the water and then laid on his back, and a lotus plant issued from his navel. This was followed by the creation of a crab, a tortoise and an eight-hooded snake that encircled the tortoise. The eight hoods spread in eight directions. Then a white elephant with long tusks and two mountains in the north and south were created, on which pillars were placed. Then a pair of gold-tinted spiders were created that floated in the air and dropped excrements, from which earth came about. The spiders then placed eight pillars in the eight corners of the wall and spun their web to create heaven. Heaven in Tai-Ahom Religion denotes Tien a part Yunnan In Southwest China [21], known as Mong Phi.

Creation of gods

Pha Tu Ching also created a consort for Khun Theu Kham, and Lon Kām (four golden eggs) were born to them. Phā Tu Chin then created a Thaolung to warm the eggs—but the eggs would not hatch for many years. So he sprinkled ambrosia (nya pulok) on them and four gods emerged: (1) Pha-shang-din-kham-neyeu, (2) Sheng-cha-pha-kham, (3) Sheng-kam-pha, and (4) Ngi-ngao-kham (also called Phu ra). The fourth son, Ngi-ngao-kham stayed back to help create the world. The third son revolted and turned into an evil spirit, though his son Sheng Ka Pha became a household deity.

Worshipful gods

According to Ahom beliefs, the supreme, formless, omnipotent being is Pha Tu Ching, who is the creator, sustainer and destroyer of everything.[22][23] The other gods and the universe are his creation. The Ahom pantheon of gods that generally receive oblations are Lengdon, Khao Kham, Ai Leng Din, Jan Chai Hung, Jashing Pha, Chit Lam Cham, Mut-Kum Tai Kum, Ra-khin, Ba-khin and Chao Phi Dam.[24]

Chumpha: The Chumpha (Chumpha-Rung Seng-Mong, Assamese: Chum-deo), was the titular deity of the Ahom dynasty, represented by a relic and which symbolized the Ahom king's sovereignty. It accompanied Sukaphaa across the Patkai on his journey into Assam.[25] It used to be housed in the royal seat, till Suklenmung (1539–1552) moved it away and it played a prominent role during Singarigharutha ceremony.[26] The relic is said to have been brought down from MongPhi by Kun Lung and Kun Lai the ancestor of Sukaphaa rulers Of MongRi-MongRam (Now Xishuangbanna , China)[27] and could be worshipped and handled only by the king.

Other honourable Gods

There are many other Gods including Major Ahom Gods.The Tai-Ahom people and generally had numbers of gods and spirits. They believe that in this world of phenomena visible objects have invisible spirits[28]. Here are some of them[29].

  • Langkuri
  • Chao Ban (God of the Sun)
  • Chao Den (God of the Moon)
  • Chao Phai (God of the Fire)
  • Chao Pha Kun (God of the Rain)
  • Tai Lang (God of the Death)
  • Aai Yang Nao
  • Kham Seng or Aai A Nang (Goddes of Wealth)
  • Lao Khri. (Full Name : Mo-Seng Pha Lao-Khri)
  • Pu-Phi-Su (the god of the forest Who live in the Tun-Rung-Rai (ficus tree).
  • Khun Theu Kham
  • Krai Pha Rung Kham
  • Pha but rum Shang Dam
  • Pha Ship ip shang Den [30]

Scriptures

The religious aspects are inscribed in scriptures written in Ahom language in a kind of barks known as in Sanchi Bark. Ahom religion has various manuscripts on Divination, Prognostics, khwan calling, incantation, Phralung. The three priestly clans (Mo'sam, Mo'hung, Mo'Plong) widely use these scripts. Some prayer scripts are known as Ban-Seng were found from Habung. Some of them were brought from Yunnan, China.

Scripture Description
Lit Lai Pak Peyn Ka Ka The Lit-Lai-Pat-Peyn-Ka-Ka is considered as the main scripture of Ahom religion.[31]
Most of the cosmology and Gods of Ahom religion derived from this vast scripture.
Khyek Phi Pha Nuru Lengdon
Lit Khamphi Lengdon Lanmung
These two texts enumerate the ritual worship of Lengdon
Ming Mang Phurālōng This text enumerates the Phurālōng ritual worship.
Doya Phurā Puthi
Nemimang Phura Yao Ching Bong Phura
Urak Pha Phra
These three books list the Jataka tales of the Buddha.
Khyek Phi Umpha
Umpha Phi Kun An Lao
These books enumerate the ritual worship of Umpha
Dam-Phi-Chi-Phun-Kka-Rik Khwan
Khon Ming
Bar Phai
These books list the Rik-khwan ritual worship for longevity.
Lit Me-Dam Me-Phi This book lists the ritual worship of ancestors.
Lai lit Nang Hoon Pha This lists the ritual Ahom marriage ceremony called Cho-klong.
Jatak Phi An Ak Included details of Rituals related to Birth Ceremony.[32]
Lit Ye Seng Pha: Included details of Rituals related to Ye-Seng-Pha (Ancestor Queen, Lord Of Knowledge and Arts).[33]
Kai Tham
Kai theng Muong
manuscript gives the ritual of sacrificing of a chicken by incantation without causing death by suffocation and slitting and gives the method of divination by studying the chicken bones or chicken legs.[34]
Pat nam Lai
Lit Aap tang
Books included the process of purifying water.
Pun Ko’ muong A manuscript that describes the genesis.
Phi Luong - Phi Wan A manuscript is of Ahom astrology.

Rituals

The Ahom religion is based on rituals, and there are two types of rituals: Ban-Phi that involve animal sacrifice and Phuralung that forbids animal sacrifice. Rituals could also be performed at the household level or at the communal level.

Communal ceremonies

Me-Dam-Me-Phi

Me-Dam-Me-Phi ( Ahom language : Me-worship; Dam-spirit of the dead; Phi-god) is one of the major ceremonies aMōng the Ahom religious rituals that is performed publicly, propitiating the spirits of the dead. In the modern times, this is held annually on 31 January. The rituals begin with the creation of a temporary structure with bamboo and thatch octagonal in shape, called ho phi. In it six raised platters on the main platform are placed for the following divinities: Jashing Pha, Jan Chai Hung, Lengdon, Chit Lam Cham, Mut-Kum Tai-Kum, Chao Phi Dam. To the left of the main platform the raised platforms forKhao Kham and Ai Leng Din are placed; and to the right the raised platters of Ra Khin and Ba Khin.[35]

Rik-Khwan Mong Khwan

The Rik-Khwan Mong Khwan ( Ahom language : Rik-to call; Khwan-Life/longevity/Soul; Mōng-Nation) [36] , is a ritual to worship Khwan, to enhance or to call back the prosperity of the state or a person. The Rik Kwan is an important part of the Tai-Ahom Marriage System described in the old Tai script Lai Lit Nang Hoon Pha. In early days Rik-Khwan Mung Khwan was performed by the Tai-Ahom kings on the victory of a war or the installation of the new kings. In the ceremony, devotee propitiates the god Khao Kham (The god of water) and invoke to restore the soul in the original normal place and to grant a long life [37] .

Non-communal rituals

Dam Phi

The Dam Phi rituals are specific to propitiating the Na Dam, Ghai Dam, Chi rwan Dam and the Jokorua Dam at the Pho Kam pillar inside the house. These rituals are offered on all auspicious occasion in the household—the three Bihus, the Na Khua ceremony (feast following new harvest), new birth in the household, nuai tuloni biya (female puberty ceremony), Chak lang (marriage), and annual death ceremonies.[38]

Similarities With Asian Religions

Ahom religion is primarily based on worshipping Deities called Phi and Dam (Ancestor Spirit). Ancestor worship and the animistic concept of khwan are two elements it shares with other Tai folk religions.[39] While the duality of the individual self Han (Phu) and Pu are concepts that probably came from Taoism Concepts Yin and Yang.[40] The custom sacred offerings consisting of chicken and Lao traditional rice beer, both in diluted (Nam Lao) and undiluted (Luok Lao) forms can be seen in other Tai folk religion too.[41]

Notes

  1. ^ "The Tai Ahom religion is explained and interpreted by the scholars differently; yet the ancient religion of the Tai Ahoms, is in essence, the religion of ancestor worship. It is a ritual oriented religion and the rituals are primarily based on the cult of ancestor worship " (Gogoi 2011:17)
  2. ^ "Ban Phi' is the sacrificial process to offer oblations to the gods and ancestors." (Gogoi 2011:47)
  3. ^ "Although blood sacrifice is a must in the Tai Ahom rituals, yet the 'Phuralung' ceremony needs no shed of blood of any bird and animal." (Gogoi 2011:48)
  4. ^ Tai Ahom religion is entirely based on the very cult of ancestor worship and Khon (Khwan) belief and these two are the common elements present in all the Tais spreading over the world.(Gogoi 2011:XII)
  5. ^ "There is no image worship or Idolatry in the Tai Ahom religion except for Chumpha rung sheng mung, commonly known as Chum Pha." (Gogoi 2011:21)
  6. ^ "Heaven is here Tien a part Yunnan In Southwest China." (Gogoi 1976:14)
  7. ^ "The concept of 'The Heavenly Kingdom' or 'Mong Phi' is there in the Tai Ahom religion. But there is no concept of hell in this religion" (Gogoi 2011:21)
  8. ^ "The 1931 Census report of Assam recorded 249,434 Ahoms in Assam spread over in various districts and they all were returned as Hindus." (Gogoi 2011:11)
  9. ^ (Gogoi 2011:70)
  10. ^ (Gogoi 2011:26)
  11. ^ "When his descendants propitiate him with the offerings he comes down to earth and partakes the offerings and keeps an eye upon them as their guardian spirit." (Gogoi 2011:42)
  12. ^ "A person becomes a Dam after his death, and he gets oblation as a household Dam, when he becomes Phi after crossing the fourteenth generation counting from the living household then he remained no longer a Dam but he is considered to be a god and in no way concerned with the particular family and becomes a national spirit or ancestor god to the whole community." (Gogoi 2011:34–35)
  13. ^ (Gogoi 2011:27–28)
  14. ^ (Gogoi 2011:28)
  15. ^ (Gogoi 2011:160)
  16. ^ (Gogoi 1976:13)
  17. ^ "(Chi ren Dam) are upgraded to the threshold or jakhala to heaven and are then lifted to Chang Phi Dam." (Gogoi 2011:28)
  18. ^ "Along with the gods and the Chao Phi Dam, another two evil deities are worshipped namely, ‘Ra-Khiri and ‘Ba-Khiri. Yet they are not given the same status and veneration with the eight gods and Chao Phi Dam. They are worshipped by making a platform on earth far away from the main ground of ritual. A slightly thick wall is made to separate them from the main ritual ground." (Gogoi 2011:30)
  19. ^ (Gogoi 2011:30)
  20. ^ (Gogoi 2011:17,18)
  21. ^ (Gogoi 1976:14)
  22. ^ (Gogoi 1976:1)
  23. ^ (Gogoi 2011:19)
  24. ^ (Gogoi 2011:20)
  25. ^ (Gogoi 1976:9)
  26. ^ (Gogoi 1976:10)
  27. ^ (Gogoi 1976:9)
  28. ^ (Gogoi 1976:12)
  29. ^ (Gogoi 1976)
  30. ^ (Gogoi 1976:13)
  31. ^ The Tai Ahoms have a number of sacred texts and Lit Lai Pak Peyn Kaka is the most important religious scripture which is called the Bible of the Tai Ahom religion." (Gogoi 2011:18-19)
  32. ^ (Gogoi 2011:18-19)
  33. ^ (Gogoi 2011:18-19)
  34. ^ (Gogoi 2011:18-19)
  35. ^ (Gogoi 2011:71)
  36. ^ (Gogoi 2006:43)
  37. ^ (Gogoi 2006:43)
  38. ^ (Gogoi 2011:152-153)
  39. ^ "Tai Ahom religion is entirely based on the very cult of ancestor worship and Khon (Khwan) belief and these two are the common elements present in all the Tais spreading over the world." (Gogoi 2011:XII)
  40. ^ (Gogoi 2011:vii)
  41. ^ (Gogoi 2011:288)

References

  • Gogoi, Padmeshwar (1976), Tai Ahom Religion and Customs (PDF), Publication Board, Gauhati, Assam
  • Gogoi, Shrutashwinee (2011). Tai ahom religion a philosophical study (PhD). Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  • Gogoi, Nitul Kumar (2006). Continuity and Change Among the Ahom. Concept Publishing Company. ISBN 9788180692819.

Further reading

Ahom

Tai Ahom may refer to:

Ahom people, an ethnic community in Assam

Ahom language, a language associated with the Ahom people

Ahom religion, an ethnic folk religion of Tai-Ahom people.

Ahom alphabet, a script used to write the Ahom language

Ahom kingdom, a medieval kingdom in the Brahmaputra valley in Assam

Ahom Dynasty, the dynasty that reigned over the Ahom kingdom

Ahom Buranji, written chronicle of Ahoms refers as history

Ahom kingdom

The Ahom kingdom (, 1228–1826, also or Kingdom of Assam) was a kingdom originating in Medieval India, in the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam, India. It is well known for maintaining its sovereignty for nearly 600 years and successfully resisting Mughal expansion in Northeast India. Established by Sukaphaa, a Tai prince from Mong Mao, it began as a mong in the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra based on wet rice agriculture. It expanded suddenly under Suhungmung in the 16th century and became multi-ethnic in character, casting a profound effect on the political and social life of the entire Brahmaputra valley. The kingdom became weaker with the rise of the Moamoria rebellion, and subsequently fell to repeated Burmese invasions of Assam. With the defeat of the Burmese after the First Anglo-Burmese War and the Treaty of Yandabo in 1826, control of the kingdom passed into East India Company hands.

Though it came to be called the Ahom kingdom in the colonial and subsequent times, it was largely multi-ethnic, with the ethnic Ahom people constituting less than 10% of the population toward the end. The 1901 census of India enumerated approximately 179,000 people identifying as Ahom. The latest available census records slightly over 2 million Ahom individuals, however, estimates of the total number of people descended from the original Tai-Ahom settlers are as high as 8 million. The total population of Assam being at 31 million according to the 2011 census, they presently constitute slightly over 25%. The Ahoms called their kingdom Mong Dun Shun Kham, (Assamese: xunor-xophura; English: casket of gold) while others called it Assam. The British-controlled province after 1838 and later the Indian state of Assam came to be known by this name.

Ahom language

The Ahom language is a dead language that was spoken by the Ahom people that is undergoing revivalism. The Ahom people established the Ahom kingdom and ruled the Brahmaputra river valley in the present day Indian state of Assam between the 13th and the 18th centuries. The language was the court language of the kingdom, till it began to be replaced by Assamese language in the 17th century. Since the early 18th century, there has been no native speakers of the language, though extensive manuscripts in the language still exists today. The tonal system of the language is entirely lost. The language was only partially known by a small group of traditional priests of the Ahom religion and it was being used only for ceremonial or ritualistic purposes.

The language is classified in a Northwestern subgrouping of Southwestern Tai owing to close affinities with Shan, Khamti and, more distantly, Thai.

Although the language is no longer spoken, the exhaustive 1795 Ahom-Assamese lexicon known as the Bar Amra preserves the form of the language that was spoken during the Ahom Kingdom. Ahom is an important language in Tai studies. It was relatively free of both Mon-Khmer and Indo-Aryan influences and has a written tradition dating back to the 13th century.

Ahom people

The Ahom (Pron: ), or Tai-Ahom is an ethnic group found today in the Indian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. They are the descendants of the Tai people who reached the Brahmaputra valley of Assam in 1228 and the local people who joined them over the course of history. Sukaphaa, the leader of the Tai group and his 9000 followers established the Ahom kingdom (1228–1826 CE), which controlled much of the Bramhaputra Valley in modern Assam until 1826. Even though the Ahom made up a relatively small portion of the kingdom's population, they maintained their original Ahom language and practiced their traditional religion till the 17th-century, when the Ahom court as well as the commoners adopted the Assamese language, and Ekasarana dharma and Saktism religions.

The modern Ahom people and their culture are a syncretism of the original Tai and their culture and local Tibeto-Burman peoples and their cultures they absorbed in Assam. Some local ethnic groups, including the Tibeto-Burman speaking Borahi, were completely subsumed into the Ahom community; while members of other communities, based on their allegiance to the Ahom kingdom or the usefulness of their talents, too were accepted as Ahoms. Currently, they represent the largest Tai group in India, with a population of nearly 1.3 million in Assam. Ahom people are found mostly in Upper Assam in the districts of Golaghat, Jorhat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia (south of Brahmaputra river); and in Lakhimpur, Sonitpur and Dhemaji (north). There is a significant presence in Karbi Anglong and Lohit District of Arunachal Pradesh.

Kaivalya

Kaivalya (कैवल्य), is the ultimate goal of Raja yoga and means "solitude", "detachment" or "isolation", a vrddhi-derivation from kevala "alone, isolated". It is the isolation of purusha from prakṛti, and liberation from rebirth, i.e., Moksha (although this is controversial due to the predominant view that it is impossible to separate/isolate purusha from prakrati, and vice versa). Kaivalya-Mukti is described in some Upanishads such as Muktika and Kaivalya as the most superior form of Moksha which can grant liberation both within this life Jivanmukti and after death Videhamukti and the essence of all Upanishads.

List of ethnic religions

Ethnic religions (also "indigenous religions") are generally defined as religions which are related to a particular ethnic group, and often seen as a defining part of that ethnicity's culture, language, and customs.

List of religions and spiritual traditions

While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who defined it as a

[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic."

A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.

Maidam

A maidam (অসমীয়া: মৈদাম ) is a tumulus of the royalty and aristocracy of the medieval Ahom Kingdom (1228-1826) in Assam, India. The royal maidams are found exclusively at Charaideo, near Sibasagar; whereas other maidams are found scattered in the region between Jorhat and Dibrugarh towns. Structurally, a maidam consists of vaults with one or more chambers. The vaults have a domical superstructure that is covered by a hemispherical earthen mound that rises high above the ground with an open pavilion at the peak called chow chali. An octagonal dwarf wall encloses the entire maidam.

The structural construction and the process of royal burials are explained in historical documents called Chang-Rung Phukanor Buranji, which detail even the articles that were buried. Later excavations under the Archaeological Survey of India found some of the maidams previously defiled, with the articles mentioned in the Buranji missing. Many of the maidams were excavated and looted, most famously under the Mughal general Mir Jumla who had occupied Garhgaon briefly in the 17th century, and under the British after 1826.

The Ahom community in Assam consider the excavation as an affront to their tradition, because the maidams are associated with the Ahom ancestor worship and the festival of Me-Dam-Me-Phi.

Me-Dam-Me-Phi

Me-Dam-Me-Phi is the most important ritual in the Ahom religion celebrated by the Ahom people on 31st January every year in memory of the departed. It is the manifestation of the concept of ancestor worship that the Ahoms share with other peoples originating from the Tai-Shan stock. It is a festival to show respect to the departed ancestors and remember their contribution to society.

Subinphaa

Subinphaa (1281–1293) was the third king of the Ahom kingdom.

During Subinphaa's rule, the Ahoms divided themselves into the rulers and the ruled with the formal delineation of the Ahom nobility (Satgharia Ahoms) and the rest of the Ahoms identifying themselves with the rest of the population. Literally the Ahom of the Seven Houses, the nobility consisted of three state clans called Gohain (the royal, Burhagohain and Borgohain) and four priestly clans called Gogoi (Deodhai, Bailung, Mohan and Siring).

Suhungmung

Suhungmung (r. 1497–1539) (Assamese: স্বৰ্গদেউ চুহুংমুং) was one of the most important Ahom kings belonging to the Dihingia clan, who ruled at the cusp of Assam's medieval history. His reign broke from the early Ahom rule and established a multi-ethnic polity in his kingdom. Under him the Ahom Kingdom expanded greatly for the first time since Sukaphaa, at the cost of the Chutiya and the Kachari kingdoms. He also successfully defended his kingdom against the first Muslim invasions under Turbak Khan. During his time, the Khen dynasty collapsed and the Koch dynasty ascended in the Kamata kingdom. His general, Tonkham, pursued the Muslims up to the Karatoya river, the western boundary of the erstwhile Kamarupa Kingdom, the farthest west an Ahom king had ventured in its entire six hundred years of rule.

He was the first Ahom king to adopt a Hindu title, Swarganarayana, indicating a move towards an inclusive polity; and Ahom kings came to be known as the Swargadeo which is the Assamese translation of Ahom word Chao-Pha. He is also called the Dihingia Raja, because he made Bakata on the Dihing River his capital and also belonged to the Dihingia clan. Suhungmung was the last progenitor Ahom king (all subsequent kings were his descendants).

Sukaphaa

Chaolung Sukaphaa (r. 1228–1268), also Siu-Ka-Pha, the first Ahom king in medieval Assam, was the founder of the Ahom kingdom. A Tai prince originally from Mong Mao, the kingdom he established in 1228 existed for nearly six hundred years and in the process unified the various indigenous ethnic groups of the region that left a deep impact on the region. In reverence to his position in Assam's history the honorific Chaolung is generally associated with his name (Chao: lord; Lung: great).

Since 1996 December 2 has been celebrated in Assam as the Sukaphaa Divawkh, or Axom Divawkh (Assam Day), to commemorate the advent of the first king of the Ahom kingdom in Assam after his journey over the Patkai Hills.

Sukhaangphaa

Sukhaangphaa (Assamese: স্বৰ্গদেউ চুখাংফা) (fl. 1293–1332) was the 4th Ahom king.

Sukhrangpha

Sukhrangpha was the king of Ahom kingdom from 1332 CE to 1364 CE. He had to face the revolt led by his youngest brother Chao Pulai or Tai Sulai (there are confusion in Ahom historians whether Chao Pulai and Tai Sulai were same or different personality. Eventually he came in terms with Chao Pulai (or Tai Sulai) by appointing him as Charing Raja, a newly created official post to administer the region of Charing. Later the post of Charing Raja was usually conferred to the heir apparent to the throne. It can be compared with the title of Prince of Wales of England, where the heir apparent to the throne was conferred with this title.

Supangmung

Supangmung (reigned 1663–1670), also known as Chakradhwaj Singha (Assamese: স্বৰ্গদেউ চক্ৰধ্বজ সিংহ), was an important Ahom king under whom the Ahom kingdom took back Guwahati from the Mughals following the reverses at the hands of Mir Jumla and the Treaty of Ghilajharighat. He is known for his fierce pride as an Ahom monarch.

Suteuphaa

Suteuphaa was the second king of Ahom kingdom who ruled from 1268 CE to 1281 CE. Suteuphaa succeeded his father Sukaphaa, who laid the foundation of Ahom kingdom in Assam. His reign was characterized by the expansion of his father’s kingdom. He also had conflicts with the Shans or Naras of Mungkang, a Shan kingdom in Upper Burma.

Tai folk religion

The Tai folk religion, known in Lao and Thai as Satsana Phi (Lao: ສາສະໜາຜີ; Thai: ศาสนาผี, /sàːt.sa.nǎː.pʰǐː/, "religion of spirits"), is a form of animist religious beliefs traditionally and historically practiced by groups of ethnic Tai peoples.

Tai folk animist traditions are practiced by the Lao, Tai Ahom, Shan people , Dai people,Tai Khamti Lao Isan and Thais of Thailand. These religions are pantheistic and polytheistic and their practice involves classes of shamans.

Among the Lao, the Lao Loum and Lao Lom are predominantly Buddhist, while the Lao Theung and Lao Sung are predominantly folk religious. Tai folk animist traditions have also been incorporated into Laotian Buddhism.

Tai peoples

Tai peoples refers to the population of descendants of speakers of a common Tai language, including sub-populations that no longer speak a Tai language. There is a total of about 93 million people of Tai ancestry worldwide, with largest ethnic groups being Thais, Isan, Shan, Lao, Ahom and Northern Thai peoples.

The Tai are scattered through much of South China and Mainland Southeast Asia, with some (e.g. Khamti, Ahom) inhabiting parts of Northeast India. Tai peoples are both culturally and genetically very similar and therefore primarily identified through their language.

Tibeto-Burman and Tai peoples of Assam

The Tibeto-Burman and Tai people of Assam are the different groups of people who migrated from East Asia and Southeast Asia into the Brahmaputra Valley during the ancient and medieval period. Today, they represent almost 60% of the population of Assam and have made a strong impact on the social, cultural and political aspects of the state.

The Pantheon of major Ahom Gods
God Domain
1 Khao Kham The presiding deity of water
2 Ai Leng Din The presiding deity of earth
3 Jan Chai Hung The master god of all natural powers
4 Lengdon The ruler of the whole universe
5 Chit Lam Cham The presiding deity of seven powers
6 Mut-Kum Tai-Kum The master gods of light: the sun and the moon
7 Jashing Pha The original wise forefathers, masters of language, culture, education and knowledge.
8 Chao Phi Dam The forefathers above the thirteenth generation.
9 Ra-Khin The evil power that creates different diseases, pain, misery in the body.
10 Ba-Khin The evil power who creates diseases, pain in mind.
Sovereign states
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