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The Hajongs are Scheduled Tribe. The name Hajong has a particular significance. In the Garo language “Ha” means earth and “Jong” means insect. They are called “Hajong” means insects of earth. This name was given to them because the Hajongs’ life and activity is deeply associated with land. In Meghalaya they are mainly concentrated in the plains of the south-west and the western border of the West Garo Hills District while some Hajong villages are situated in the East and the West Khasi Hills as well some of them also live in different districts of Assam.
It is traditionally believed that the Hajongs for early lived in the Hajo area of the Kamrup District of Assam when their population increased and their cultivable land was found too scanty to sustain them, they left the place and set out insearch of a new land. First they settled at a place called Hachong. But they left the place and moved in a south westernly direction until they found this vast plain in the Garo Hills most suitable to their temperament as well as for cultivation. They settled in this place permanently and gradually extended their settlement in the south eastern direction along the foot hills of the Garo Hills and Khasi-Jaintia Hills.
Though the Hajong nowadays speak the jharua dialect of Assamese or the Mymensingh dialect of East Bengal it is very likely they belong to the same branch as the Bodos, Koches and Rabhas. The Assamese dialect is a mixture of Assamese and Bengali, but the influence of the Assamese language is greater.
The Koch dialect is of Tibeto-Burman origin (Gait 1924). The influence of both Bengali and Assamese language is reflected in their dialect.
There are two broad sections among the Hajongs, namely the Khatal and the Hajong. The Khatal claim to be Vaishnavitie, though they still worship Kali and Kamakhya, the two Hindu deities of the Sakta sect. The main difference between the Khatal and the Hajong is that the former prohibit the use and preparation of the rice beer. The Hajongs engage a Bengali Hindu Brahman Priest for religious and social function while the Khatals follow the traditional system of engaging an Adhikari, a Priest from their own community, for similar functions. The religious practice, social customs and ceremonies observed by the Hajongs are influenced by two different orders of religious rites and social usages. Some of these have been greatly influenced by their neighbouring Bengali Hindu or Assamese societies, while others are the reflection or retention of their own traditional beliefs and customs in their social life.
The Hajong clans were formerly organized on the basis of exogamous martini. There are about seventeen clans among the Hajongs namely Parachungwa, Chondi, Katagaon, Dinulgaon, Difragaon, Khasigaon , Phulgaon, Ghorabali, Koitar and Sonamukhi. In recent years some Hajong families have adopted Bengali-Hindu Clans names such as Kashyap, Bharaduaj, Sandilhya and Asattandanda. But clan exogamy is not strictly followed and marriages with members of the same clan now take place frequently.
Endogamy is the rule of marriage among the Hajongs marriage with a member outside their community is strictly forbidden. Cases of such marriage are rare. Negotiated alliance is the usual form of marriage. The marriage proposal generally comes from the party that desires the marriage. The marriage ceremony generally takes place at the bridegroom’s residence. Among the Hajongs, both bride price and dowry are given, but in a very limited way. In the Hajomg society a widow or widower is permitted to remarry.
The residence pattern among the Hajongs are patriarchal. Both the extended and the elementary form of the nuclear type of families are observed. After his marriage, a man usually lives jointly with his parents, married brother or unmarried brothers and sisters. The married son sometimes establishes a separate household and lives with his wife and unmarried children. It is reported that on very rare occasion, the married daughter along with husband lives with her parents. The father is generally the Head of the family and has supreme authority. Family among the Hajong is patrilineal in descent i.e. there is a strong emphasis on the male line and descent and succession to property. Giving away part of the land to the sons, during the lifetime of the parents is common, but sometimes such shares are also given to the daughters, if they establish separate households after marriage.
The Hajong maintain a good inter family relationship within their community. There is mutual co-operation between the members of the families in matter relating to cultivation of land and harvesting operations.
The Hajong observe the taboo of pollution at the time of childbirth and death in a household. In case of birth, the household observes ceremonial defilement for a period varying from seven to ten days. The new born baby’s head is shaved by a Hindu barber, generally, on the seventh day after birth and the population period is considered to be at an end. In case of death of an adult member of the family the period of ceremonial pollution varies from ten days to a month. Normally the Hajong cremate death bodies.
Mainly the Hajongs own land individually. The common village land is confined to the place for worshipping the village deity the cremation ground and meadow lands.
Who are Hajongs?
BirendraNathhajong.blogspot, April 25, 2011
The Hajong (হাজং) tribe is one of the scheduled tribes of India.They speak Hajong dialect influenced by the Assamese and Bangla language. These ethnic tribal people predominantly inhabit in the plain belts of Meghalaya and sporadically in neighboring places like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal and in Bangladesh.
It is mentioned by E. T. Dalton (1872) in his book, Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal, that the Hajongs are one of the branches of the Kachari race early settlers of Assam. A. Mitra (author of ‘West Bengal: District Handbooks’, Jalpaiguri, Govt. of West Bengal, 1953) also narrated that the Hajongs belong to the Indo-Mongoloid race and have similarities with other members of Bodo group such as Garo, Kachari, Mech, Koch, Rabha, and others.
Hajongs, like most of the tribes of northeastern India, are of Mongol origin. There first settlement in India was in the Kamrup District of Assam and this was their home for a long time. Following natural calamities a major portion of the tribe settled in areas of West Bengal, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and also in hilly parts of Bangladesh.
Hajongs follow Hindu rites and customs and also take Hindu titles. Every Hajong family has a temple for worship called 'Deo Ghar' and they offer prayers in the morning and evening. Hajong community is patriarchal and father or elder man is the chief of a Hajong family. Hajongs live in groups and the area of a group is called a 'Para' or ‘Gaon'. A Hajong village is like an autonomous Kingdom. Every Hajong man compulsory to takes membership of a 'Gaon.' Hajongs live on agriculture. After marriage, the Hajong bride goes to the bridegrooms' house. Polygamy and divorce is rarely seen in the tribe. Hajongs have close cultural links with the Garos.
ORIGIN: MYTH AND HISTORY
According to a belief, Hajo was the ancestral home place of the Hajongs. The saga tells that Hajo or Hajgoya was a powerful ruler who dominated other Koch Chiefs (Bhuyans) and subjugated the whole of Rongpur and a large portion of the Kamata Kingdom and subsequently a place was selected for the capital of his kingdom. The place was called Hajo after his name for his commemoration. The clan of Hajo were called themselves Hajbongsis and in course of time these Hajbongsis became simply Hajongs.
According to another popularly known legend, the Hajongs are the descendants of Surya and they claim themselves as Kshatriyas. The story narrates that in Abantinagar there was a king named Pusparatha. Parshuram, the enemy of the Kshatriyas, beheaded Pusparatha and the widowed daughter-in-law of Pusparatha Rani Swarupa fled away the Abantinagar kingdom with her followers and took shelter at Kammuni in Kamrup. In course of time Swarupa’s son Padanku brought Hajo kingdom under his control. During the reign of Bhaskar Barman, the last king of the dynasty, there was the downfall of Hajo kingdom and some twelve thousand people migrated from Hajo to Barohajari, a place in present West Garo Hills still known as Barohajari Joar. Those migrated and descended twelve thousand people from Hajo, were known as Hajons or Hajongs.
After their settlement in Garo Hills the Hajongs began to plough the plain land as insects. These group of people became the insect of soil and the Garos called them Hajongs. Because in Garo language Ha.a or a.a means land or soil and jong means insect. (Source : The Hajongs and their struggle).
In 1901 an investigation and research was initiated by Waddell in physical anthropology of the tribes of Northeast India. Later on researchers accumulated data of these Northeast tribes in different course of time and among these tribes the Hajong tribe has also been analyzed from different angles to establish its ethnic affiliation. The tribes of Northeast India are mongoloid origins who are referred to as Indo-mongoloid. As many of the scholars claim that the Hajongs are of mongoloid group and a branch of Boro or Bodo group, therefore, for further investigation and research an anthropometry table is presented below in comparison to other ethnic groups of Northeast India.
See graphic': Hajong population in India (almost entirely in Arunachal Pradesh) in 2011
The Hajongs are Hindus by their religion and predominantly follow their own traditional way of worship.They worship prominent gods and goddesses like Shiva, Parvati, Brahma, Vishnu, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartik, etc. and celebrate puja with ardent fervor. These gods and goddesses are held in high esteem and worshiped in every household. A very unique feature among some of the Hajong clans is that a priest called "Adhikari" who assumes the responsibility for performing all religious rites and other social events such as birth, marriage and death ceremonies. This tradition is held in very high regards and strictly followed by them.
In terms of religious belief Hajongs are close to Hindus. Hajongs worship Durga and other Hindu gods and goddesses. But Lord Shiva is their chief deity. They observe a number of bratas (vows) including the Kartik brata performed in the month of Kartik (October-November). Girls and women dance and sing in brata ceremonies. Hajongs also worship the Brahmaputra river. Like Hindu Brahmins, Hajongs wear paita (the holy thread) on their bodies. Hajongs are believers in reincarnation too.
Hajong men wear bhiza gamsa and women wear Ranga Pathin and Phula Aagon, a standard size piece of cloth, with broad and medium borders with a typical color combination(with red is the main colour).
Hajong men wear Bhiza Lengti(Gamsa) and women wear Ranga pathin, Plain pathin phula agron prepared by themselves. Hajong men & women are very expert in weaving, they weave pathin, phula agron, gamsa and rumal for themselves and for others too.
Like many other aborigines, Hajongs are basically a farming community. At one time they were accustomed to Jhum farming, but now they follow plough farming. Side by side with rice and other crops they grow cotton and make fabrics at home. In addition to these activities, people belonging to the Hajong community collect wood from jungles and do some other kinds of work.
Hajong society is patriarchal. After the death of the father sons inherit his property. Daughters however, are given some money and ornaments at the time of their marriage to start a new family life specially those who are not financially sound. Young men and women marry with their parents' consent. A Hajong man can marry a woman of his own clan as well as of a different clan. After marriage, women put on Sindur (vermilion) mark on their sithi (parting of the hair on the middle of the head). Child marriage is not allowed. Premarital sex is strictly prohibited. Hajongs generally abide by the rules and principles of marital purity. A husband cannot have more than one wife. Divorce is not uncommon and widows can remarry. Rice is the staple food of Hajongs. Fruits, vegetables, mutton, pork, ducks and chicken are other major items of their diet.
Hajongs lead simple lives like Garos. Most families live in thatched houses. Relatively better off families have tin-shed or brick-built houses. Houses are neat and clean reflecting the neatness of their life-style. As modernization is making people's life standard in different turn, more and more Hajongs are dwelling houses in town and cities. Like other ethnic groups, Hajongs build and maintain community houses for social needs as well as for other purposes.
Hajongs have their own language, but do not have an alphabet. Their spoken language is a mixture of local dialects. Speaking in colloquial Bangla is a common practice among them. The Hajong language was originally a member of the Tibeto-Burmese group of languages, but later got mixed with Assamese and Bangla. Modern education is being gradually spread in Hajong society.
In their life-style, Hajong people maintain, to a large extent, their traditional ethos of simplicity, honesty, and hospitality as well as other common plebeian characteristics. False play and deceit are rare in this society. Like Garos, Hajong people have protested vehemently against injustice, oppression, exploitation and persecution in the past and have histories of rebellion against feudal and imperialist forces. They took part in historic movements like the Hatikheda movement, the Tonk Movement, agitations against Zamindars, and the Tebhaga Movement. Hajongs cremate dead bodies. Usually, after 13 days of death the Shraddha(obsequies) ceremony is performed.
Granted Indian citizenship: 2017
Who are Chakmas and Hajongs?
The Chakmas and Hajongs are ethnic people who lived in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, most of which are located in Bangladesh. Chakmas are predominantly Buddhists, while Hajongs are Hindus. They are found in northeast India, West Bengal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.
If they are indigenous people, why are they called refugees?
The Chakmas and Hajongs living in India are Indian citizens. Some of them, mostly from Mizoram, live in relief camps in southern Tripura due to tribal conflict with Mizos. These Indian Chakmas living in Tripura take part in Mizoram elections too. The Election Commission sets up polling booths in relief camps.
The Chakmas and Hajongs living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts fled erstwhile East Pakistan in 1964-65, since they lost their land to the development of the Kaptai Dam on the Karnaphuli River. In addition, they also faced religious persecution as they were non-Muslims and did not speak Bengali. They eventually sought asylum in India. The Indian government set up relief camps in Arunachal Pradesh and a majority of them continue to live there even after five decades. According to the 2011 census, 47,471 Chakmas live in Arunachal Pradesh alone.
What about Bangladesh?
The Chakmas and Hijongs opposed their inclusion in undivided Pakistan during Partition. They later opposed their inclusion in Bangladesh when East Pakistan was fighting the Liberation War with West Pakistan, on grounds that they are an ethnic and religious minority group. A group of Chakmas resorted to armed conflict with Bangladeshi forces under the name 'Shanti Bahini'. The conflict increased the inflow of refugees to India.
In 1997, the Bangladeshi government headed by Sheik Hasina signed a peace accord with the Shanti Bahini, which resulted in the end of the insurgency. According to the accord, the Chakma, Marma, Tripura, Murang and Tanchangya were acknowledged as tribes of Bangladesh entitled for benefits and a Regional Council was set up to govern the Hill Tracts. The agreement also laid out plans for the return of land to displaced natives and an elaborate land survey to be held in the Hill Tracts.
Bangladesh was willing to take back a section of Chakma refugees living in India, but most of them were unwilling, fearing the return of religious persecution.
Chakmas and Hajongs came to India from the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), having lost their homes and land to the Kaptai dam project (Karnaphuli river) mid-1960s. They also faced religious persecution
Religion: Chakmas are Buddhists, while Hajongs are Hindus
Language: Chakmas' is close to Bengali-Assamese; Hajongs speak a Tibeto-Burman tongue written in Assamese Where they settled
Who stayed on...
An estimated 1 lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees are staying in India When they came in 1964, there were about 15,000 Chakmas and about 2,000 Hajongs By 2015, many of the initial group of refugees had died. Only about 5,000 were in the camps In 2010-11, a survey by MHA placed their in Arunachal's three districts at 53,730 In 1987, a new group of 45,000 Chakmas crossed over to Tripura from Bangladesh ...having called India home
To date, Chakmas observe a 'Chakma Black Day', condemning the award of Chittagong Hill Tracts to then east Pakistan in 1947 Neither did they want to be part of Bangladesh when it was formed in 1971 and launched an armed struggle Shanti Bahini for autonomy Fighting the Bangla Army routinely saw Chakmas move into India, moving to Tripura In 1990s, Sheikh Hasina's govt struck a peace deal with the Chakmas, recognizing them as a Bangla tribe But the Chakmas did not return, fearing persecution Can they vote?
In 2005, Election Commission issued guidelines to include Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal's electoral rolls. Names of over 1,000 Chakmas appear in Arunachal's electoral rolls
A timeline of their battle in court
Early 1990s: Committee of Citizenship Rights for the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh (CCRCAP) formed to fight for citizenship rights
Dec 1994: National Human Rights Commission asks Arunachal government and Centre to provide information about steps taken to protect Chakmas and Hajongs
1995: In face of a deadline set by local tribes for Chakmas, Hajongs to leave the state, NHRC moves SC seeking relief for the refugees
Nov 2, 1995: In interim order, SC directs state government to "ensure that the Chakmas situated in its territory are not ousted by any coercive action, not in accordance with law"
Jan 9, 1996: SC directs govt to expedite their citizenship applications
Sept 2015: SC gives deadline to the Centre to confer citizenship to these refugees within three months
Sept 2017: Home ministry announces citizenship to be given
Why grant citizenship now?
In 2015, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajongs who had migrated from Bangladesh in 1964-69. The order was passed while hearing a plea by the Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas. Following this, the Centre introduced amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1955. The Bill is yet to be passed, as the opposition says the Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion, which is a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.
The Union government is keen in implementing the Supreme Court directive now since the BJP is the ruling party in both the Centre and Arunachal Pradesh.
The Union Home Ministry cleared the citizenship for over one lakh Chakma-Hajongs. However, they will not have any land ownership rights in Arunachal Pradesh and will have to apply for Inner Line Permits to reside in the State.
Though cleared for citizenship now, they can't own land in Arunachal and will have to apply for Inner Line Permits
2019/ 700 settled in Matiya, neighbouring areas, not in NRC
Renu Bala Hajong was barely eight years old when her parents were forced to leave their village in erstwhile East Pakistan’s Mymensing district in 1964. After travelling for days, they first reached Meghalaya’s Garo Hills before entering Assam’s Goalpara district where they were finally rehabilitated as refugees.
Lakhs of refugees, mostly Hajongs, Garos, Kochs and Bengali Hindus, were displaced by communal riots in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and later settled in different refugee camps across Assam in 1960. According to some estimates, refugees numbering up to 5,00,000 entered Assam till the 1960s.
At Matiya in Goalpara, Renu Bala and hundreds of other refugees mostly belonging to the Hajong community were settled in the 1960s. Subsequently, all of them became Indian citizens. But after being excluded from the final NRC, their sense of belongingness has received a major jolt. “We forgot our violent past in East Pakistan as we became citizens of India. But when I found that many of us are not there in the NRC, the sense of belongingness got disrupted,’’ said Renu Bala.
There are about 250 Hajong families comprising 700 people at Matiya and its neighbouring areas. Over 100 of them, mostly women, were excluded from the final NRC. “The names of my three sons, daughters-in-law and their children were included but I have been excluded. Like me, several women from my community were excluded. We are poor and don’t know how we will manage money to fight our cases,’’ Renu Bala said. Minoti Hajong (50) said most of them submitted refugee certificates for inclusion in the NRC. ‘’I am clueless how my name was dropped when my husband and two sons are included,’’ Minoti said. Rohila Hajong (28) said she also submitted refugee certificate and was called for hearing twice. “In each hearing, I spent about Rs 500. I am worried about the hardships that I have to go through again to prove my citizenship,” she added. “Our appeal is that they should not panic. The government will do its best to help out Indians excluded from the NRC,” said Assam CM’s legal adviser Shantanu Bharali.