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Culture and social life of Garo Tribes

The Garos still cling to their age-old unique culture and lifestyle amidst the nature sustaining continuous aggression from the ethnic majorities in the mid-northern region of Bangladesh bordering the Garo hills of India.

From the anthropological point of view, the Garos began to live at Durgapur, Haluaghat, Sherpur and Madhupur region in greater Mymensingh of Bangladesh originally from Yang Si Kiang and Hoang Ho basin of China via Assam, Meghalaya, and Coach Bihar of India.

They would like to introduce themselves in their language as Mandi, the daughter of nature. They worship nature and its objects.

Their supreme God is ‘Tatra Rabusa’ who is also called as ‘Debbe’ or ‘Meraded’ or even called as ‘Daggika’, the creator of river port. Susimé, the goddess of Moon who they believe can cure blindness.

They believe ‘Nor’ and ‘Mandé’ as their ancestral parents of the tribe.

They use to name their children after ‘Mahari’ in the matriarchal and after ‘Manguri’ in the patriarchal families. Now most of the Garo families are following patriarchal system leaving the unique supremacy of mother in families.

Usually the Garo wear traditional Gani, Gando, Bikmachu, Rikmach; but most of the others wear sari, blouse, chemise, trousers, shirt, pant, Lungi, shoes etc.

Now-a-days most of them, as many as 95 percent of them, are Christened for which they enjoy economic and other social benefits despite the loss of their ancestral religion. Among 300 primary and 15 high schools operated by the Christian missionaries most of the students are Garo Christians.

They used to live on agriculture and 90 to 95 percent of them owned agricultural lands. But 70 percent of them are landless now. Even the land which rest in their ownership is also decreasing being acquired legally by the government and illegally by some other dishonest usurpers from the ethnic majority.

Members of landless families use to work as wage labourers, collect and sell firewood, hunt crabs and tortoises, trade hand-made bamboo products etc.

Each of the small nations and tribes has every right to protect and uphold their unique existence in their ancestral land despite the rise in modern concept of nation states and geo-political nationalism as citizen of the earth and it is approved and protected by the laws of the country and of the United Nations as well.

The existence of the Garo and other tribes should be taken into serious consideration and their basic human rights should not be violated threatening their existence in the name of forest development project or building so called eco-park.

Courtesy: Bdnews24

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