Karbi tribe of Assam

The Karbis are an ethnic tribe of Assam. In this article I have provided information on the Karbi tribe of Assam. I have provided information on their history, culture and various festivals.

The Karbi tribe of Assam

Karbi tribe of Assam
The Karbi also known as Mikirs are one of the ethnic group of Assam. They inhabit in many parts of North east India including Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam etc. but are mainly concentrated in the hills of Assam. Karbi people are the main tribe of Karbi Anglong district of Assam. Besides Karbi Anglong, the Karbis inhabited areas including Dima Hasao, Kamrup, Marigaon district, Nagaon, Golaghat, Karimganj and Sonitpur districts of Assam.
The word 'Mikir' is not preferred by the Karbi people and is taken as derogatory.

History of Karbi People

The Karbis are considered as the earliest inhabitants of Assam and some people claim them to be the discoverers of Assam. Karbi are said to be a part of the Khasi community of Meghalaya but they were told to live in Dimasa Kingdom during Dimapur reign in the16th century.

The Karbi Culture

The Karbis are rich in culture and tradition. The Karbis are patrilineal like the other communities in India. The Karbi community is made of five major clans. They are Ingti (Lizang), Terang (Hanzang), inghi (Ezang), Teron (Kronzang) and Timung (Tungzang).

The Karbis speak the language 'Karbi'. However the number of Karbi speakers is on decline.
Traditionally, the community is headed by a king or 'Lindok' and is associated by the Katharpo, the Dilis, the Habes and the Pinpos. These posts are still held by people but they are more for ceremonial reasons and hold no power.

The Karbis practice Jhum cultivation and grow crops like rice, maize, potato, tapioca, beans, ginger and turmeric. Like any other tribe, they are self sufficient and don't need any external supply for their living. Karbi peple however have the highest human poverty index (HPI) and have the highest number of people below poverty line.

The Karbi women weave clothes in their own home. The women wear a piece of cloth wrapped around the upper body known as 'pekok' and a decorative piece of cloth tied around the waist.
The men wear a sleeveless shirt known as 'choi' and a dhoti type of cloth known as 'rikong'. They wear a turban to cover their heads.

Festivals of Karbi

The Karbis like other communities of Assam also celebrate many festivals. Some of them are-

  • Rongker- It is celebrated in the months of January- February by the community. It is celebrated as thanksgiving to the Gods for food and well being.

  • Chomkan- This festival is celebrated by families for the safe passage of soul of the deceased member.

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