Does the idea of travelling to Northeast India ever seem to beckon you? We seem to know or have heard about Assam and Meghalaya’s natural pristine beauty, oriental-splashed monasteries, living root bridges, tea gardens, hilly terrains, stunning waterfalls, indigenous handicrafts and vibrant cultures. But how many of us really know about the languages spoken in this region?
Did you know that the Peoples’ Linguistic Survey of India believe that there are about a 100 living languages spoken in the five states of Northeast India alone? You didn’t? Well then, time to brush up on some language trivia!
Bodo – what’s that?
Bodo (pronounced ‘Bo-Ro’), or Mech, is the Sino-Tibetan language spoken primarily by the Bodo people of Northeast India, Nepal and Bengal. It is the official language of Bodoland and the co-official language of Assam and Meghalaya, as well as in Bangladesh.
Closely related to the Dimasa language (Assam), Garo language (Meghalaya) and the Kokborok language spoken in Tripura, it is one of the 22 scheduled languages given a special constitutional status in India.
As for the fun facts
Bodo is the co-official language of the Indian state of Assam, and is written using Latin, Devanagiri, and Bengali scripts. Who knew?
Its rich literature boasts of a large number of books of poetry, drama, short stories, novels, biography, travelogues, children’s literature as well as literary criticism.
Tracing back the links
Did you know that Bodo never had written literature until the second decade of the twentieth century, till the Christian missionaries began publishing works in it! Since 1963 onwards, Bodo has been written in Devanagiri. It was formerly written using Latin and Assamese script.
It was only after the socio-political awakening, that the language was introduced as the medium of instruction in primary schools in Bodo-dominated areas from 1963 onwards. It serves as a medium of instruction up to the secondary level today.
What else do we know about their culture?
The ethnic and linguistic community of Bodo people, who reside in the north-eastern part of India, are the largest minority group in Assam. Most of them practice farming or fishing, and their presence was dominant in Assam until about 1825.
Speaking of culture, have you ever witnessed the Bagurumba dance? It is an important folk dance of Assam, performed by the Bodo tribals, and is full of rhythm and vivacity. It is also known as the “butterfly dance”, since it resembles the graceful movements of birds and butterflies, and it is done promptly after the paddy plantation.