Bathouism

Bathouism (बाथौ) is the ethnic religion of the Bodo people or Kachari people. The name Bathou (Ba=five; thou=deep)[1] in Bodo means five principles.[2] The five principles are: bar (air), orr (fire), ha (earth), dwi (water) and okhrang (ether).[3] The chief deity, called Bathoubwrai (bwarai: "the Elder")—omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent—is said to have created the five principles. Though there are other minor gods and goddesses, Bathoubwrai is considered the Supreme God. Bathoubwrai is unseen. The second most important deity is Mainao, the consort of Bathoubwrai, who is considered as the "protector of the rice fields".[4]

It is reported that Bathouism will be included in the Indian census.[5]

Bathouism flag
Bathou flag.

Sijou plant

The sijou plant, a woody species of (Euphorbia milii var. splendens)[6] is considered the living embodiment of Bathoubwrai. Families that follow Bathouism plant a sijou shrub at the northeast corner of their courtyard, in an altar called sijousali. Bodo communities that follow Bathouism generally plant a sijou shrub at a community land, fenced with eighteen pairs of bamboo strips with five fastenings.[7] Each pair symbolizes a pair of minor god-goddess. The five fastenings signify, from bottom: birth, pain, death, marriage and peace/pleasure. The bottom three fastenings, called bando, are those that one cannot escape in life; whereas the top two one could.

Gods, goddesses and gurus

(Endle 1911) differentiates between household gods and community gods. Of the household gods Bathoubwrai, Mainao, Song Bwrai/Burai and Bura Bah Raja are considered prominent.[8] The practice of representing Bathoubwrai by the sijou tree was more common the Mech of Goalpara region, and less so in Darrang. Song Raja is usually represented inside the house in an altar called dham, a deity who obtains devotion from women, and receives offerings during women's menses; but these offerings are eventually brought out and laid at the sijou tree representing Bathou.[9]

The eighteen pairs of gods-goddesses are: 1 Mwnsinsin bwrai-Mwnsinsin burwi, 2 Si Bwrai-Si Burwi, 3 Aham Bwrai-Aham Burwi, 4 Khuria Bwrai-Khuria Burwi, 5 Eheo Bwrai-Eheo Burwi 6 Mainao Bwrai-Mainao-Burwi, 7 Bwlli Bwrai-Bwlli Burwi, 8 Deva Bwrai-Devi Burwi, 9 Gongar Bwrai-Gongar Burwi, 10 Joumwn Bwrai-Joumwn Burwi, 11 Song Raja-Song Rani, 12 Hasung Bwrai-Hasung Burwi, 13 Rajong Bwrai-Rajong burwi, 14 Agrang Bwrai-Agrang Burwi, 15 Hazw Bwrai-Hazw Burwi, 16. Emao Bwrai-Emao Burwi 17. Mohela Bwrai-Mohela Burwi and 18. Hafao Bwrai-Hafao Burwi.

Worship

Traditional

Traditional Bathouism did not have any written scripture or religious book, nor temples. The worship is performed at the sijousali, and constituted offering animals and fowls for sacrifice and rice beer. Notable religious festivals were Kherai, Garja and others. These ceremonies are performed by priests called Douri (male priest) and Doudini (female priest). This religion was not organized.

Revivalism/Reformation

All Bathou Religious Union, an organization, was constituted in 1992; and it has begun reviving and reforming the traditional religion. The traditional role of the Douri and Doudini are replaced by the Gwthari Asari appointed by the organization, and a band of singers who sing in a practice called Bathou Aroj. The construction of temples, resembling churches or mosques called Thansali, have come into being. Bathou aroj is performed on Tuesdays in Thansalis. Sacrifices of animals and fowls, and offering of rice beer as modes of worship has been replaced by offering of flowers, fruits and the burning of incense. The partaking of prasad has also become popular.

Notes

  1. ^ (Boro 2014:28)
  2. ^ "The meaning of the term ‘Bathou ’ is five deep principle of creation." (Boro 2014:2)
  3. ^ "...five ingredients of earth, water, air, fire and ether {ha, dwi, bar, or and okhrang). (Boro 2014:3)
  4. ^ (Endle 1911, p. 37)
  5. ^ (Inside NE & 2019-02-06)
  6. ^ "The Bathouism or Bathou is symbolised by the Sijou plant (Euphorbia spendens)" (Boro 2014:3)
  7. ^ (Boro 2014:43)
  8. ^ (Endle 1911, pp. 35–36)
  9. ^ (Endle 1911, pp. 36–37)

References

  • Boro, Anil (2014). Bathou religion and its impact on boro society a folkloristic study (PhD). Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  • Endle, Sidney (1911). The Kacharis. London: Macmillan and Co. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  • Inside NE (6 February 2019). "Indian Census shall now recognize 'Bathouism' officially". Archived from the original on 6 February 2019. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
Ali-Illahism

Ali Illahism (Persian: علی‌اللّهی‎) is a syncretic religion which has been practiced in parts of Iranian Luristan which combines elements of Shia Islam with older religions. It centers on the belief that there have been successive incarnations of the Deity throughout history, and Ali Ilahees reserve particular reverence for Ali, the son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, who is considered one such incarnation. Various rites have been attributed as Ali Ilahian, similarly to the Yezidis, Ansaris, and all sects whose doctrine is unknown to the surrounding Muslim and Christian population. Observers have described it as an agglomeration of the customs and rites of several earlier religions, including Zoroastrianism, historically because travelogues were "evident that there is no definite code which can be described as Ali Illahism".Sometimes Ali-Illahism is used as a general term for the several denominations that venerate or deify Ali, like the Kaysanites, the Alawis or the Ahl-e Haqq/Yarsanis, others to mean the Ahl-e Haqq.

Ambubachi Mela

The Ambubachi Mela (/ˈæmbʊˌbɑ:ʧɪ,ˌæmbʊˈbɑ:ʧɪ ˈmeɪlə, mi:lə/) is an annual Hindu mela held at Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam. This yearly mela is celebrated during the monsoon season that happens to fall during the Assamese month Ahaar, around the middle of June when sun transit to the zodiac of Mithuna, when the Brahmaputra river is in spate. It is the celebration of the yearly menstruation course of goddess Kamakhya. It is believed that the presiding goddess of the temple, Devi Kamakhya, the Mother Shakti, goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this time stretch. It is also believed that during the monsoon rains the creative and nurturing power of the 'menses' of Mother Earth becomes accessible to devotees at this site during the mela. There is no idol of the presiding deity but she is worshipped in the form of a yoni-like stone instead over which a natural spring flows.

Assamese Brahmins

Assamese Brahmins are the Brahmins present in Assamese society, being one of the four traditional Hindu social divisions along with the Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras. There are two classes in Assam, of which the Ganaks, who are also known as Daivajna, are one. That group follows the Atharva Veda (the solar cult).There they promoted learning, Vedic religion and astrology, besides imparting general vedic knowledge to the public. Their origin was probably the Gangetic Plain: according to the Nidhanpur copper plate, around 200 Brahmin families of various gotras and ved–sakhas moved from there to Assam on the invitation of Bhutivarman in the 6th century CE.

Barua

Barua (Assamese: বৰুৱা); which is also spelled as Baruah, Barooah, Baruwa, Baroova, Barooa, Baroowa, Borooah, Boruah, Baroa; is a common Assamese surname. The surname Barua is usually associated with someone who is an Assamese or Asamiya.

Bodo Brahma Dharma

Bodo Brahma Dharma was a new religious movement agitated by Gurudev Kalicharan Brahma in the early 20th century in Dhubri District of Assam among the Bodo people after initiation in the Brahmo faith and the teachings of the Adi Brahmo Parambrahma in 1906 at Calcutta and assisted by Rupnath Brahma. The religion tried to reform some of the traditional customs of Bodo society and reform the Bathouism (an animist doctrine) and opposed Christianity and missionaries amongst the marginalised communities of lower plains of holy Brahmaputra river. The Adi Dharma of Brahmo Samaj successfully kept many indigenous marginalised communities out of Christianity during Colonial rule.

Bodo culture

Bodo culture is the culture of the Bodo people in Assam. For long, Bodos have been farmers living in an agriculturist community with a strong tradition of fishery, poultry, piggery, with rice and jute cultivation, and betel nut plantation. They make their own clothing from scratch, such as traditional attires. In recent decades, Bodos are influenced by recent social reforms under Bodo Brahma Dharma and the spread of Christianity.

Bodo people

The Bodo (Bodo: बर' pronounced [boːɽoː]) are an ethnolinguistic group of northwest Assam in the northeast part of India. They are part of the greater Bodo-Kachari ethnolinguistic groups found today spread over Nepal, Bangladesh, West Bengal and clustered more strongly in Assam in India, along the eastern Duars. This group is politically active and is dominant in the BTAD districts of Assam (Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang), which is a group of autonomous districts under Bodoland Territorial Council.

The Bodo people speak the Bodo language that belong to the Tibeto-Burman languages, and it is recognized as one of twenty-two scheduled languages in the Indian Constitution. The Tibeto-Burman languages are considered to have entered Assam after the Austroasiatic languages and the Bodo-Kachari are one of the earliest settlers of North East. The Bodo-Kachari, to which the Bodo belong, are the first to rear silkworms and produce silk material, and they are also considered to be advanced in rice cultivation in Assam.The Bodo people are recognized as a plains tribe in the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Udalguri, Chirang, Baksa, Sonitpur, Goalpara, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Kokrajhar of Assam are considered the centre of the Bodo people.

Chutiya Kingdom

The Chutiya Kingdom (1187-1673), alternatively spelt Sutia, Chutia, Sutiya or Sadiya, was a state established by Birpal, a Chutiya chieftain in 1187 CE in the areas comprising the present-day Indian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Birpal was one of the numerous Chutiya chieftains/ rajas who ruled present-day Upper Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Over the years he and his successors united all the Chutiya kings of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in the hills and plains to form the greater Chutiya kingdom after the fall of Pala dominance. It was the largest kingdom in Assam after the fall of Kamrupa and before the rise of Ahom kingdom. The kingdom absorbed the ancient Pala dynasty of Kamarupa and reigned for over 400 years in eastern Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with its capital at Sadiya and Ratnapur. Swadhyadhipati/Sadhayapuriswar is the Assamese name for the king of the Chutiyas. Sadiya was the name of the kingdom as well its capital. It became the dominant power in eastern Assam in the 12th century and remained so until the 16th century with its domain from Parshuram Kund in the east to Vishwanath in the west.It controlled the present Assam districts of Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, parts of Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Sonitpur and East Siang, Subansiri, Lower Dibang, Lohit districts of Arunachal Pradesh.Among the Chutiya kings was Gaurinarayan (Ratnadhwajpal), son of Birpal. He brought many other Chutiya groups into his kingdom. In 1224, Ratnadhwajpal defeated another Chutiya king named Bhadrasena, the king of Swetagiri, and conquered the area between Subansiri and Sissi rivers, i.e. present-day Dhemaji district. In 1228, he went on another campaign to further expand his kingdom and subjugate the Chutiya king Nyayapal (ruling the areas between Biswanath and Subansiri,i.e. present-day Biswanath and Lakhimpur districts) and marched toward Kamatapur, where he formed an alliance with the Kamata ruler by marrying a princess. Then he marched to Dhaka, and made friends with the Gauda ruler. The hostilities with the Ahoms began when the Chutiya Kingdom expanded to the south during which the Ahom king, Sutuphaa, was killed by the Chutiya king during a friendly negotiation. This conflict triggered a number of battles between the two sides which saw the great loss of men and money. The simmering dispute often flared till 1524 when the Ahoms struck the Chutiya Kingdom at its weakest state, took Sadiya and killed the then king, Nityapal. The Ahoms established their rule by instituting the position of Sadiyakhowa Gohain, a newly constituted position of frontier-governor in charge of Sadiya. But the Chutiya had dispersed to frontier regions, and continued raids against the Ahoms. It finally ended in 1673 when they fell under the domination of the Ahoms.

Danava dynasty

The Danava dynasty was the first legendary line of rulers in Pragjyotisha, established by Mahiranga Danava. The dynasty was of Kirata origin. These rulers are mentioned in the Kalika Purana though there are no archaeological evidence.

The Danava dynasty consisted of Kirata chiefs; the last of whom, Ghatakasura, was killed and replaced by Naraka.

Deori people

The 'Deori tribe' is one of the major indigenous communities of Assam and Arunachal pradesh, India. They historically live in the upper plains or also called as the hinterland of the Brahmaputra Valley. In ancient times of the Chutiya kingdom, the Deoris were priests of the Chutiya community, (an indigenous Assamese community) in the temples of the kingdoms and therefore the origin of the name Deori. The Deori community belongs to the Sino-Tibetan family of Mongoloid stock. The community has maintained their racial traits, language, religion, folktales and traditional beliefs through the centuries.

Euphorbia milii

Euphorbia milii, the crown of thorns, Christ plant, or Christ thorn, called Corona de Cristo in Latin America (coroa-de-cristo in Brazil), is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family Euphorbiaciae, native to Madagascar. The species name commemorates Baron Milius, once Governor of Réunion, who introduced the species to France in 1821. It is imagined that the species was introduced to the Middle East in ancient times, and legend associates it with the crown of thorns worn by Christ.

Euphorbia milii var. splendens

Euphorbia milii var. splendens is a variety of the species Euphorbia milii. Like the other varieties of E.milii (and, indeed, like many other plants in the spurge family Euphorbiaceae) E.m.var.splendens produces a milky latex that is an irritant poison. Under the name sijou (alternative spelling sijwu) the plant (known formerly to science as Euphorbia splendens) is considered to be sacred in the Bathouist religion of the Bodo people of Assam, West Bengal, Nagaland and Nepal - in which it symbolises the supreme deity, Bathoubwrai (Master of the Five Elements). This cultivation for ritual purposes of the sijou tree was particularly strong among the Bodo people (known also as Mech) of the Goalpara region. The plant does not often set seed, but is easy to propagate vegetatively; branches broken from an established plant root readily as cuttings. Families that follow Bathouism plant a sijou shrub at the northeast corner of their courtyard in an altar referred to as the sijousali. Bodo communities that follow Bathouism generally plant a sijou shrub/small tree in a piece of communally-owned land, which they fence with eighteen pairs of bamboo strips with five fastenings. Each pair symbolizes a divine couple consisting of a minor God and a minor Goddess. The Five Fastenings (bando) signify (counting from bottom to top) : birth, pain, death, marriage and peace/pleasure. The milestones on the path of life represented by the bottom three fastenings are those that one cannot escape; whereas those symbolised by the top two are not necessarily attained by all.

Kalita (caste)

Kalita is an ethnic group or a caste of Hindus belonging to the state of Assam in North East India. They commonly claim to belong to the Kshatriya caste. There is evidence of Kalita kingdom in very early times as well as during the 15th-16th century. According to historians like S.L.Barua, Kalitas started migrating from North and East India to Assam during the 11th century rule of Dharmapal.

Kamata Kingdom

The Kamata kingdom (pron: ˈkʌmətɑ) appeared in the western part of the older Kamarupa on the Indian subcontinent in the 13th century, after the fall of the Pala dynasty. The rise of the Kamata kingdom marked the end of the ancient period in the History of Assam and the beginning of the medieval period. The last rulers were the Khens, who were later displaced by Alauddin Hussain Shah, the Turko-Afghan ruler of Gauda. Though Hussain Shah developed extensive administrative structures, he could not maintain political control and the control went to the Koch dynasty.

The Koches called themselves Kamateshwars (the rulers of Kamata), but their influence and expansions were so extensive and far-reaching that their kingdom is sometimes called the Koch Kingdom. In the same century the kingdom split in two: Koch Bihar and Koch Hajo. The eastern kingdom, Koch Hajo, was soon absorbed into the Ahom kingdom in the 17th century. The western portion of the Kamata kingdom, Koch Bihar, continued to be ruled by a branch of the Koch dynasty and later merged with the Indian territory after the independence of India from the British domain.

Kirati tribes

The Kirāta, Kiranti or Kirati is a generic term in Sanskrit literature for people who lived in the mountains, particularly in the Himalayas , North-East India and who are postulated to have been Mongoloid in origin. Rai and Limbu are the major tribes of Kirati community.

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.

Mech tribe

The Bodo-Kachari tribe (known also as Mech and being one of the scheduled tribes of India) belongs to Kachari tribal grouping. Mech is the name given to the Bodo tribe by others. They speak mainly the Bodo language, which, although a Tibeto-Burman dialect, Some of them in upper Assam have been influenced by the Indo-European Assamese language.Meches, a part of the Bodo-Kachari people that migrated into India and gradually spread themselves into the whole of Assam, North Bengal and parts of East Bengal. It is said that, during their migration to India, they marched towards different directions.one group went along the river Brahmaputra and established themselves in the whole of Assam up to Goalpara district and parts of Jalpaiguri district and Cooch Behar district under the name of Bodo or Bara. Another group went towards the West along the foot of the Himalayas up to the river Mechi, bordering India and Nepal and settled on the North bank of the river known as Mechi or Mechia. Later they spread to Darjeeling Terai, Baikanthpur in Jalpaiguri district again marched further East and settled in the Dooars. It is said that, a group of Mech people, again moved further East, crossed the Sankosh River, and went towards Goalpara in Assam. Due to repeated floods in Dooars and eastern bank of Teesta river, a large number of families migrated towards Assam.

Organized religion

Organized religion (or organised religion—see spelling differences), also known as institutional religion, is religion in which belief systems and rituals are systematically arranged and formally established. Organized religion is typically characterized by an official doctrine (or dogma), a hierarchical or bureaucratic leadership structure, and a codification of rules and practices.

Tribal religions in India

About 104 million people in India are members of Scheduled Tribes, which accounts for 8.6 % of India's population (according to the 2011 census). In the census of India from 1871 to 1941, tribals have been counted in different religions from other religions,1891(forest tribe), 1901(animist),1911(tribal animist), 1921(hill and forest tribe), 1931(primitive tribe), 1941(tribes), However, since the census of 1951, the tribal population has been stopped separately.Now many Indians belonging to these populations adhere to traditional Indian tribal religions, often syncretised with one or more of the major religious traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and/or Christianity and often under ongoing pressure of cultural assimilation.The tribal people observe their festivals, which have no direct conflict with any religion, and they conduct marriage among them according to their tribal custom.

They have their own way of life to maintain all privileges in matters connected with marriage and succession, according to their customary tribal faith.

In keeping with the nature of Indian religion generally, these particular religions often involve traditions of ancestor worship or worship of spirits of natural features. Tribal beliefs persist as folk religion even among those converted to a major religion.

The largest and best-known tribal religion of India is that of the Santhal of Orissa.

In 1991, there were some 24,000 Indians belonging to the Santhal community who identified explicitly as adherents of the Santhal traditional religion in the Indian census, as opposed to 300,000 who identified as Christians. Among the Munda people and Oraons of Bihar, about 25 % of the population are Christian. Among the Kharia people of Bihar (population about 130,000), about 60 % are Christians, but all are heavily influenced by Folk Hinduism. Tribal groups in the Himalayas were similarly affected by both Hinduism and Buddhism in the late 20th century. The small hunting-and-gathering groups in the union territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have also been under severe pressure of cultural assimilation.

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