Karbi Anglong – An enchanting hill district of Assam

By Bhudeb Chakrabarti

Karbi Anglong, meaning Hills of Karbi people is one of the two autonomous hills districts of Assam. It has a blend of thickly forested hills, dense tropical rain forests and flat plains with three-fourth of the area being covered by forests.

I got the opportunity to visit Karbi Anglong a few years back. I was lucky to go to some of the remotest places and meet and talk to the people. Here I share my observations on the enchanting land.

Karbi Anglong

Image Source

 

Ethnic Mosaic

Karbis, belong to the  Tibeto-Burmese group. While some Karbis are Hindus, some are Christians. Together they constitute more than 67% of the population of Karbi Anglong. Beside Karbis, other communities like Dimasas, Bodos, Khasis, Garos, Rengmas and Nepalis live in Karbi Anglong, making a colourful ethnic mosaic.

Karbi Anglong

Image Source

The Karbi society is patriarchal, yet after marriage the wife continues to use the surname of her father while the children take the surname of their father.

 

 

Karbi Villages 

Almost entirely a rural area, Karbi Anglong has around 2600 small villages scattered all over the district. A Karbi village is named after the village head known as ’Sarthe’ or Gaonbura. Karbis build their houses on stilts on the top of a hill with thatched roof and mud plastered bamboo walls. There are balconies on the front and the rear. A wooden bamboo ladder leads to the bamboo platform of the front balcony. The outer room is used as hearth (Kum) and guest room. The inner room (Kut) is kept for the family .The cattle is kept under the bamboo platform.

Traditional Karbi House

Traditional Karbi House | Image Source : http://www.kaac.nic.in/

Agriculture is the mainstay of Karbi life. In the plains Karbis practise permanent cultivation. In the interiors they go for ‘jhooming’ or shifting cultivation. They shift their village to a new place, sometimes 15 -20 kilometres. They also go for fishing in hill streams and hunting in deep forests.

 

Tradition and Heritage

Tradition and heritage play a very important part in the way Karbi men  and women dress. Men wear a turban, don a dhoti and a sleeveless jacket of striking colours with long fringes (Choy –Aan). Modern Karbi youth now used to modern western dress love to sport their traditional jacket. Women wear ‘pini’ of striped silk around the waist, use silver jewelry, and necklaces of white and red beads and silver coins (Lek –Chiki) . Their head remains uncovered.

They celebrate the commencement of cultivation with a festival called ‘Rongkher’ when the men only participate. The whole village cooperates at the time of ‘Hachakekan’ festival (Harvest Festival), which is followed by a community feast and festivity. Death Ceremony (Chomangkan) is elaborate and lasts for four days and four nights.

Karbi danceKarbi dance | Image Source : kaac.nic.in

Karbis are great lovers of music and dance and fond of folklores. ’Chong-Kedam’ (Shield and Sword Dance) is a traditional Karbi Folk Dance.

Diphu

Diphu (White Water in Dimasa language) the District Headquarters of Karbi Anglong is a small charming town on a beautiful hill. It is connected to NH 36 by PWD Road. Dimapur the nearest Airport is 55 kilometres from Diphu. Diphu residents, primarily Karbis are quite educated with as much as 90% literacy. The town has a Botanical Garden and Recreation Park with stately trees and beautiful orchids.

Diphu_hills

Image source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diphu

 

Boithalangso

Hamren Sub-Division is the most beautiful area of Karbi Anglong in the lap of nature with enthralling natural green forests, picturesque hills blue streams and splendid waterfalls. Boithalangso, the first town on entering Karbi Anglong from Naogaon District of Assam is a quaint and quiet place. The scenic beauty is breath taking from Boithalangso to the interiors of Hamren.

Hamren Town

Hamren the small Sub-Divisional Town on a beautiful forested hill is surrounded by green hills all around with the swirling Kapili River passing by the Town. A sweet and bracing breeze blows over Hamren Town all throughout. Amtreng in Hamren Sub-Division is on a hill surrounded by green woods and Amtreng River of blue and cool waters falling from a huge rock.

Amreng_KarbiAnglong

Image Source

hamren, karbi anglong

Image Source

Mehgalaya State borders Hamren to the south. At the border the panoramic view of the scenic Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya makes a person forget everything and wonder about the splendour of nature.

My visit to Karbi Anglong gave me an opportunity to see a beautiful place of striking natural beauty and know about the people with a great tradition and a rich culture.

 

Reference :

www.karbianglong.nic.in

www.en.wikipeddia.org

 


This article is contributed by Bhudeb Chakrabarti, Dy IG (Retd) CRPF. He has commanded several Operational and Administrative functions in the force and has imparted training to gazetted officers of CRPF and other central & state police forces.

If you like this post, please consider following the blog.

If you believe that any picture on the site infringes your copyright, please inform and it will be removed.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Please like, share and/or leave feedback in comments below! :P

.

 

  • author's avatar

    By: Life11BlogAdmin

    No biography available at this time

  • author's avatar

join me on this journey to know the stories of some great brands.

Download your complimentary eBook

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Readers Comments (46)

  1. Such beautiful and gentle people! It was interesting to read that a woman who marries still keep her father’s surname… I love that tradition and did choose to keep my dad’s last name when I married here in America. but usually, the married woman takes her husband’s name.

    Hamren looks so idyllic! Lovely photos.

    Reply
  2. bhudeb chakabarti February 20, 2016 @ 12:12 pm

    Thank you Madam for your valuable comments and profound observations. Regards.

    Reply
  3. Beautiful place with a lot of different traditions. It would make for a good visit… 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • bhudeb chakabarti February 20, 2016 @ 8:10 pm

      It is very heartening that the people of the incredible Karbi Anglong has
      meticulously preserved their traditions. The place is worth a visit.
      Thanks for your valuable comment.
      .

      Reply
  4. Wow.. Such a beautiful place and a land full of traditions. Karbi dance seems interesting. And Diphu is very beautiful.. It’s amazing that there is such a great literacy rate. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend. 🙂

    Reply
  5. nice write up somali! I’m sure most of us doesn’t know enough about North East India. great resource!

    Reply
  6. India has some of the most beautiful places.. and many don’t even know .. but then that is good tooo for if it becomes well known things get corrupted. .

    Different traditions.. awesome..

    Reply
  7. One of the remotest and most beautiful places of the North-east. I once heard it’s not easy to get the required permissions and permits for normal tourists for visiting Karbi Anglong. Is it true, Bhudeb Sir?

    Great to know about the colourful festivals and different traditions. Their attires look very interesting. Also that, women need not change their surnames after marriage, sounds good. Thanks for sharing the post, Somali… 🙂

    Reply
  8. This is such an informative piece on the Karbi people. They do have beautiful strips of nature along with their insightful customs and traditions. It is so interesting to hear that their house will have a guest room, but separate from the family area. Fair enough, and it gives privacy to both the family and guest. Also interesting to hear about how the woman keeps her own family name but the kids take after the man’s name 🙂

    Reply
  9. We missed this on our last trip to Assam, noted for next time. Seems lovely. Thanks Somali 🙂

    Reply
  10. A great post, thank you. I’ve never managed to get to the North east states – they are still on my ‘to do’ list!

    Reply
  11. Somali, what an interesting and informative post! Love the photos!

    Reply
  12. their culture is deep related with the forest. the land is unique and rich deversiry . it is the largest district of asom… , but thair population rate is low.. people from outside came to visit the land.. Karbi is the prominent language in the district. Other
    spoken languages include Dimasa (Garo-dima), Kuki
    (Khawchung Thadou), Nepali, Assamese and Aiton
    (approximately 1500). [11]
    A number of indigenous peoples reside in this
    district. The Rengmas and the Karbis are the most
    prominent amongst them. Other indigenous peoples
    residing in this district include the Dimasas , the
    Koch, the Nepali (Gorkha), the Adivasis, the Kuki-
    Chin People (Kukis, Hmars, Mizos), the Garos, the
    Tiwas , the Khasis and the Chakmas.
    Religion
    Population of the district is:
    Animists ( often tagged as Hindus ) – 670,139
    Christians – 117,738
    Muslims – 18,091
    Culture
    Karbi anglong district has a rich culture. From
    ancient age the Karbi people maintain and keep their
    culture alive. They have their own traditional
    costume, like Choi Hongthor (Traditional Shirt) and
    Rikong vetvot (Traditional Pant) for male and Pini or
    sini & Peh Kok (Traditional wear) for female. They
    also make their own traditional bag called
    Jamborong .
    Male dress
    Choi Hongthor, traditional shirt, is widely adopted
    among the Assamese culture. The shirt is very
    similar to a Flak jacket , but with button in place of
    zipper.
    Rikong vetvot is a male attire worn from the waist to
    below. It’s a single white piece of Loincloth without
    decoration. It can be classified into two groups: the
    true Rikong vetvot and the neo-modern (borrowed
    heavily from Dhoti ). Rikong vetvot is unique in a
    sense how it is worn and its length. It needs skill to
    wear them. It is almost impossible to wear with too
    much length (It is still difficult to wear them with a
    little more length). A new wearer will find the dress
    slipping out as there is no knot.
    Female dress
    Pini or Sini, Peh kok and Jamborong are widely
    famous in the state which is use by many people.
    It’s popularity is due to their charming colours and
    design prepared by Karbi women .
    Pini or Sini is an female attire worn from the waist
    and cover up to the lower calf. It is similar to the
    dress worn by other communities like Naga, Hmar
    etc. Peh-kok is also unique in how its worn. It’s a
    square (or similar sized) piece of cloth. It’s two
    adjacent edge are tight into a knot (modern dress
    use pin inplace of knot). The knot side is then hang
    from the shoulder.

    Reply
    • bhudeb chakabarti February 21, 2016 @ 11:55 am

      I thank you profusely for your valuable information about Karbi Anglong. Karbi Anglong the largest of all districts of Assam is a land of unity in diversity. Karbi Anglong almost entirely covered with dense tropical forests having a low density of population offers unique splendours of nature. .People of all religions live in amity. It is heartening to see the people of Karbi Anglong who have rich culture and tradition love to preserve and maintain them in respect of dress, social customs and norms.

      Reply
  13. Karbi is the prominent language in the district. Other
    spoken languages include Dimasa (Garo-dima), Kuki
    (Khawchung Thadou), Nepali, Assamese and Aiton
    (approximately 1500). [11]
    A number of indigenous peoples reside in this
    district. The Rengmas and the Karbis are the most
    prominent amongst them. Other indigenous peoples
    residing in this district include the Dimasas , the
    Koch, the Nepali (Gorkha), the Adivasis, the Kuki-
    Chin People (Kukis, Hmars, Mizos), the Garos, the
    Tiwas , the Khasis and the Chakmas.
    Religion
    Population of the district is:
    Animists ( often tagged as Hindus ) – 670,139
    Christians – 117,738
    Muslims – 18,091
    Culture
    Karbi anglong district has a rich culture. From
    ancient age the Karbi people maintain and keep their
    culture alive. They have their own traditional
    costume, like Choi Hongthor (Traditional Shirt) and
    Rikong vetvot (Traditional Pant) for male and Pini or
    sini & Peh Kok (Traditional wear) for female. They
    also make their own traditional bag called
    Jamborong .
    Male dress
    Choi Hongthor, traditional shirt, is widely adopted
    among the Assamese culture. The shirt is very
    similar to a Flak jacket , but with button in place of
    zipper.
    Rikong vetvot is a male attire worn from the waist to
    below. It’s a single white piece of Loincloth without
    decoration. It can be classified into two groups: the
    true Rikong vetvot and the neo-modern (borrowed
    heavily from Dhoti ). Rikong vetvot is unique in a
    sense how it is worn and its length. It needs skill to
    wear them. It is almost impossible to wear with too
    much length (It is still difficult to wear them with a
    little more length). A new wearer will find the dress
    slipping out as there is no knot.
    Female dress
    Pini or Sini, Peh kok and Jamborong are widely
    famous in the state which is use by many people.
    It’s popularity is due to their charming colours and
    design prepared by Karbi women .
    Pini or Sini is an female attire worn from the waist
    and cover up to the lower calf. It is similar to the
    dress worn by other communities like Naga, Hmar
    etc. Peh-kok is also unique in how its worn. It’s a
    square (or similar sized) piece of cloth. It’s two
    adjacent edge are tight into a knot (modern dress
    use pin inplace of knot). The knot side is then hang
    from the shoulder.

    Reply
    • bhudeb chakabarti February 21, 2016 @ 11:58 am

      Grateful thanks for your valuable inputs about Karbi Anglong and the people of Karbi Anglong . It is a fascinating land. Regards.

      Reply
  14. Thank you for sharing this with us! It is very cool to learn about other people and their traditions!

    Reply
  15. Indeed North-East of India is such a beautiful place, unknown to many and once you visit, you can relate how much is there to be explored and cherished. Karbi is definitely one such representation of the treasure of beauty and bounty of the place. Yes, the ethnic mosaic and the culture diversity, and so much in the food and the clothes, the lifestyle is integrated into the leafs and branches of nature, they love to nurture both the nature and the art of playing music and dabbling with dance and drama…
    Thanks so much for sharing through the lens that has captured the finer nuances of life and living in such remote places peacefully nestled in the arms of nature.

    Reply
  16. bhudeb chakabarti February 21, 2016 @ 8:11 pm

    Karbi Anglong one of the hill districts of Assam is the largest of all districts in the State. The geographical area
    of the district is 10434 sq.km with a low density of population of 78 per square kilometre. The entire area is fully covered with green tropical forests and rich lush green plains. The incredible region is a treasure house of nature yet to be explored. The Karbis who constitute about 70 per cent of the population have strongly established traditions and norms and preserved them with meticulous care. There are other groups of people with their unique culture presenting a unity in diversity.
    I am thankful to you for kindly perusing my post and making very sound and insightful observations.

    Reply
  17. This looks like an amazing and beautiful place!

    Reply
  18. Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  19. Thanks for writting about our beautiful district. bestofnortheastindia.com

    Reply

Say what you want to!

Animated Social Media Icons by Acurax Wordpress Development Company
%d bloggers like this: