Social etal, 1987:78): “The Karbis have now come forward

Social Folk Custom of the Karbis

 

4. 0 
Introduction

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The Karbi culture is a
part and parcel of the Mongoloid culture.The plain Karbi people migrated from
various places at different point of time and a section of them settled in
urban areas of Assam with the aim to earn money for livelihood, better
avocations and higher education (Baruah, 1990:75). The Social structure of the
plain Karbis is primarily patriarchal, and the father is the head of the
family. Living in the urban societies has played a big role whereby the plain
Karbis residing in the urban areas maintained traditionalism at the same time
adopted modernity.

Settling in the urban
areas lead to the fascination for education, though at a slow pace, has brought
in significant changes. Lot of socio-cultural changes is noticeable for better
living. There is a shift from traditional to modernity be it in the area of
food, dress, and rituals, or in beliefs

In the words of  (Bordoloi, etal, 1987:78):

“The Karbis have now
come forward to accept the developmental schemes of different sectors with a
view to changing their own destiny. But at the same time, they are maintaining
their culture which distinguishes them as a separate ethnic group. Although,
there had been some changes in the periphery, the core of the culture is intact.”

 

4.8.0  Field Survey on the
present status of the Social Folk Custom of Plain Karbi

          People  

Referring to caption
0.6.4, social folk custom related aspects shall be dealt with, based on the
field survey on the plain Karbis.

 

4.8.1 Religion of the Plain Karbis

More than 95% of the respondents preach Hindu
religion and only around 4% are Christians vide table 55.

 

Table
55  Religion preached

 

Religion

No.
of Respondents

%

Christian

19

4.3

Hindu

425

95.7

Total-

444

100.0

 

 

4.8.2  Existence of common
Worship place

There exists a common
place for worship expressed by majority (around 85% vide table 56) of the
respondents.

 

Table 56  Exists common Worship place

Exists

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

375

84.5

No

69

15.5

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.3  Chief deities Worshipped
by family

Variety of responses
obtained from the respondents, almost all of them are
devotees of Gods. Only 2 numbers of respondents are found to be the followers
of Lord Jesus and the remaining 439 worship Hindu Gods or Goddesses along with their traditional
deities.
Table 57 gives a picture of the chief deities worshipped by the respondents.

 

Table 57  Chief deities Worshipped

Deities

No.
of Respondents

%

Ganesh

5

1.1

Jesus

2

0.4

Lakhsmi

3

0.7

Saraswati

2

0.4

Saraswati, Lakhsmi,
Bishnu, Ganesh, Kati Bihu, Batt

14

3.2

Saraswati, Ganesh, Durga, Bihu,  Biswakarma, Laxmi

3

0.7

Shiva,  Krishna, Ganesh, Laxmi, Baral, Bhagabati,
Bihu, Bishnu,  Borgohain, Biswakarma,
Manasha, Dehal, Durga, Kali , Sarkidung, Johong, Barkhuto,  Batt puja

408

91.9

Tamulong, Sutal,
Sarkidung,  Boliya, Ai

4

0.9

No response

3

0.7

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.4  Belief in
worshipping  Ancestors

Around 87% of the
respondents do believe in worshipping ancestors (vide table 58).

Table 58 Belief in
worshipping Ancestors

Believes

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

386

86.9

No

51

11.5

No response

7

1.6

Total-

444

100.0

4.8.5  Whether Functions
organized in localities

According to majority
(around 66% vide table 59) of the respondents, localities organizes functions.

Table 59 Functions
organized in localities

Functions organized

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

293

66.0

No

1

0.2

No response

150

33.8

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.6  Name of Functions
organized in localities

Various types of
functions are organized in localities as per folk calendar refer caption 2.9
according to the respondents vide table 60.

Table 60 Name of
Functions organized

Name

No.
of Respondents

%

Aai,Johong,Dehal, Bihu,

4

0.9

Batt puja,Sutal, Bhakat,
Dehal, Aii, Johong

9

2.0

Bihu, Dehal, Ain, Batt,
Sutal, Johong, Durga, lakshmi, Sarkidung, Saraswati, Shiva, Kali, Sansharik,
Janmastami, Sutal, Bokhot,

135

30.4

Dehal, Johong, Tamulong,
Aai, Boliya, Bhakat, Sarkidung, Aithon, Manashi, Shiva, Kali, lakshmi,
Janmastami, boliya,langamara,Sani, Sutol, Durga,

290

65.3

No response

6

1.4

Total-

444

100.0

4.8.7  Belief in purification
ceremonies

Around 89% of the
respondents do believe in purification ceremonies (vide table 61).

Table 61 Belief in
purification ceremonies

Existence of belief

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

394

88.8

No

41

9.2

No response

9

2.0

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.8  Opinion on religious
feasts

More than 66% of the respondents
are in favour of religious feasts and they do not consider it to be
a waste of money vide table 62. But, 33% of them do feel the other way.

Table 62 Opinion on
religious feasts

Opinion

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

147

33.1

No

296

66.7

No response

1

0.2

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.9  Believes in Evil Spirits

Majority (around 72%
vide table 63) of the respondents, believes in Evil Spirits.

Table 63  Believes in Evil Spirits

Opinion

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

321

72.3

No

123

27.7

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.10  Reason for belief in
Evil Spirits

The main cause for
belief in evil spirits according to 57% of the respondents happens to be fear,
but around 30 % of them thinks it to be tradition vide table 64.

 

Table 64  Causes for belief in Evil Spirits

Afraid
of

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

254

57.3

No

133

29.9

No Response

57

12.8

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.11  Type of family preferred

Majority (around 68%) of the Karbis
prefer nuclear type of family. Only say 33% do prefer joint form of family
(vide table 65).

 

 

 

Table 65  Type
of Family preferred

Type

No.
of Respondents

%

Joint

145

32.6

Nuclear

299

67.4

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.12  Willingness to Attend
functions though living apart

Considering only those
respondents who opted for nuclear family type, it is found that around 98% are
willing to attend ceremonies/festivals jointly (table 66).

 

Table
66  Willingness to Attend functions

Attend
functions

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

292

97.7

No

7

2.3

Total-

299

100.0

 

4.8.13  Probable Frequency of attending
functions in spite of living apart

Except for a mere 4% out
of 444 numbers of respondents all of them stated that if they are to live apart
from the joint family yet they would attend functions either
regularly/frequently/occasionally in varying order as depicted in table 67.

 

 

Table
67  Probable Frequency of attending
functions

Nature of Attending functions

No. of Respondents

%

Regularly

150

33.8

Frequently

137

30.8

Occasionally

141

31.8

Never

16

3.6

Total

444

100.0

 

 

4.8.14  Form of Marriage
Preferred

Variety of responses
obtained from the respondents, almost 47% of them prefer Harhak (Bor Biya) form, nearly 50% like Boka Busan (Mazaliya Bidhar Biya) and the remaining
3%  selected Ranbang
Luka (Parents know but society don’t involve in it) form  of marriages. Table 68 gives a picture
of the form of marriage
preferred by the respondents.

 

Table 68  Form of Marriage Preferred

Form Preferred

No.
of Respondents

%

Harhak (Bor Biya)

208

46.8

 Boka Busan (Mazaliya Bidhar Biya)

221

49.8

Ranbang Luka (Parents know
but society don’t involve in it)

15

3.4

Total-

444

100.0

 

 

 

 

4.8.15  Opinion on proper
age for marriage in case of boys

According to 98% vide
table 69 of the respondents, opined that proper age for marriage in case of
boys should be above 21 years of age.

 

Table 69 Opinion on
proper age for marriage in case of boys

Proper age level

No.
of Respondents

%

Upto 21 years

4

0.9

Above 21 years

437

98.4

No Response

3

0.7

Total

444

100.0

 

4.8.16  Opinion on proper
age for marriage in case of girls

Majority (around 99%
vide table 70) of the respondents, are of the opinion that in case of girls the
proper age for marriage should be above18 years of age.

 

Table 70 Opinion on proper age for marriage in case of girls

Proper age level

No.
of Respondents

%

Upto 18 years

2

0.4

Above 18 years

439

98.9

No Response

3

0.7

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.17  Place from where
likes to marry a girl

According to (over 71%
vide table 71) the respondents, most
preferred place where from a boy likes to marry is that a girl be from another
village.

 

Table 71 Place from
where likes to marry a girl

Place

No.
of Respondents

%

Own locality

37

8.3

From another village

317

71.4

From another town

88

19.8

No Response

2

0.5

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.18  Dowry is essential
in marriage

Though there is no
inclination of nearly 72% of the respondents towards dowry system in marriage
but, it needs to be pointed out that around 28 % responded affirmatively in this
regard as illustrated in table 72.

Table 72 Dowry is
essential in marriage

Opinion

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

124

27.9

No

318

71.6

No Response

2

0.5

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.19  Selection of Life
partner

Near
about 54% of the respondents are in favour of both self cum parents selection
of Life partner
process and only, say 30% like to select on their own vide table 73.

 

Table 73 Selection of
Life partner

Selection done by

No.
of Respondents

%

Self

133

29.9

Parents

72

16.3

Self-Parents jointly

239

53.8

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.20  Willingness to give
marital freedom to boys and girls

More
than 66% of the respondents are in favour of offering marital freedom to boys
and girls religious whereas the remaining percentage are
pessimistic vide table 74.

 

Table 74 Willingness to
give marital freedom to boys and girls

Opinion

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

293

66.0

No

151

34.0

Total

444

100.0

 

4.8.21  Opinion on early
marriage

Around 97% of the respondents
opposed early marriage (reflected in table 75).

 

Table 75 Opinion on
early marriage

Opinion

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

12

2.7

No

432

97.3

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.22  Hesitate to marry a
girl other than own community

Majority (around 54%
vide table 76) of the respondents likes to marry a girl other than own
community but the remaining percentage hesitates to do so.

Table 76 Hesitate to
marry a girl other than own community

Opinion

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

204

45.9

No

240

54.1

Total-

444

100.0

4.8.23  Invites people
outside own community during ceremonial functions (like marriage/Puja/Sradha,
etc.)

Over 96% of the
respondents do like to invite people
outside own community during ceremonial functions (like marriage/Puja/Sradha,
etc.) as evident from table 77.

Table 77 Invites people
outside own community

Opinion

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

428

96.4

No

16

3.6

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.24  Consult women in
family affair

Near
about 96% of the respondents do consult women with respect to family affair vide
table 78.

 

Table 78 Consult women
in family affair

Opinion

No.
of Respondents

%

Yes

424

95.5

No

20

4.5

Total-

444

100.0

 

 

 

4.8.25  Thinks women as
economic partner, a house wife or both

Nearly 88% of the
respondents treat women as economic partner as well as housewife (vide table
79).

 

Table 79 women as
economic partner, a house wife or both

Opinion

No.
of Respondents

%

Economic partner

3

.7

A house wife

52

11.7

Both above

389

87.6

Total-

444

100.0

 

4.8.26  Women posses equal
position (Status) in society with men or lower than men

More
than 99% of the respondents provides equal status to women in society as par
with men (vide table 80).

 

Table 80 Women possess
equal position (Status) in society

Opinion

No.
of Respondents

%

Equal with men

441

99.3

Lower than men

3

0.7

Total-

444

100.0

 

 

4.8.27    Type of treatment
preferred during sickness

Around 47 % (vide table
81) of the respondents prefer indigenous method of treatment during sickness;
nearly 38 % prefer allopathic and a small percentage (14 say) prefer
homeopathic.

Table 81  Treatment preferred during sickness

Treatment preferred

No.
of Respondents

%

Indigenous method

209

47.1

Allopathic

168

37.8

Homeopathic

64

14.4

Both Indigenous &
Allopathic

3

0.7

Total-

444

100.0

 

  
1 Bordoloi , Saswati Customs of the Plain
Karbi related to Environment, Social

       System
on March 22, 2013 in indianfolklore.org/TataFellowships/?p=783
  

   
(accessed on    February 11,
2016)   

            2 ibid

3 indianfolklore.org/TataFellowships/?tag=karbi-tribe (accessed
on February 11, 2016)

 

4 Bordoloi, 2013 in
indianfolklore.org/TataFellowships/?tag=nagara-nam (accessed on January
18, 2016)

5Plain
karbis of Assam: an account Chapter III – Shodhganga 
shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in> bitsrtream, p. 120-129 (accessed
on January 02, 2017)

6
ibid,  p.120-129

                  7
Swami, Abstract, 2013

8
Plain karbis of Assam: an account Chapter III – Shodhganga 
shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in> bitsrtream, p. 151 (accessed
on January 02, 2016)