The Siphung: Boro culture is the culture of the Boro people in Assam. For long, Boro's have been farmers living in an agriculturist community with a strong tradition of fishery, poultry, piggery, with rice and jute cultivation, and betel nut plantation. They make their own clothing from scratch, such as traditional attires. In recent decades, Boro's are influenced by recent social reforms under Bodo Brahma Dharma and the spread of Christianity.
In the past, Boros worshiped their forefathers. Traditionally, the Boros have practiced Bathouism without an influence of Hinduism in recent times. While some have adopted Christianity and Bodo Brahma Dharma. Bathouism is a form worshiping forefathers called Obonglaoree. The Sijou plant (belonging to the Euphorbia genus), is worshiped as the symbol of Bathou. In the Boro Language Ba means five and Thou means deep. Five is a significant number in the Bathou religion. The Sijou tree has five ribs and a pair of thorns in each rib. It signifies a couple. God creates human being through couple.
Despite the advance of Hinduism amongst the Boros, mainstream Indian practices such as caste and dowry are not practiced by the majority of Boro Hindus who follow a set of rules called Brahma Dharma.
A large number of Boro people practice Christianity, predominantly Baptists. The major associations being Boro Baptist Convention and Boro Baptist Church Association. Other denominations includes Church of North India, Lutheranism, Believers' Church, Roman Catholic, Pentecostalism etc. Most of the Boro Christians practices are mixture of tribal traditions and Christians traditions
Among the many different musical instruments, the Boros use: Kham, Siphung, Serja, Jotha, Jabsring, Tharkha, Bingi, Rege.
Siphung : This is a long bamboo flute having only five holes rather than six as the north Indian Bansuri would have and is also much longer than it, producing a much lower tone.
Serja : This is a violin-like instrument. It has a round body and the scroll is bent forward.
Tharkha : It is a block of bamboo split into two halves for clapping.
Kham : It is a long drum made of wood and skin of goat.
Sericulture - Boros are known as first to rear silkworm and produce silk in India.
Rice is the main staple food but is eaten with non-vegetarian dishes like fish or pork.
Oma Bedor: Most Boro people like Oma (Pork) bedor (meat). Boros prepare pork meat with different flavors and style. It could be fried, roasted, and stewed. The first type is pan fried. The second flavor is made by roasting (or smoking) the meat in the sun for several days. The third one called "oma khaji" is cooked by mixing blood and meat, - it tastes very rich in fat.
Rice cultivation - Boros are known as first to cultivate rice in India
Onla: Onla is a gravy made from rice powder and slices of bamboo shoots cooked lightly with oil and spices. Chicken or pork can be added to onla.
Zu mai or Zwou: Rice wine is produced by the boros mainly during the festivals like Bwisagu and Domasi. Jumai could be of two types, (A) gishi (wet) and (B) gwran (dry). (A) Gishi is brewed by fermentation of rice, when a piece of plum is added to the gishi mixture during fermentation, the product taste like plum wine! (B) Gwran is produced by distillation of the gishi; it tastes like Japanese sake.
The Boros examine the strength of the wine by throwing a cup of beer in the fire. A flash of fire indicates the strength of the wine.
Narzi: A bitter gravy that is made from dried jute leaves. Pork or fresh water fish can be cooked together to generate distinct taste. Narzi gravy tastes like Japanese sea weed soup! Others like Dau Bedor, Jinai and Samo are also likely taken by Boro।
Bwisagu is the most cherished springtime festival celebrated by the Boro people at the advent of the new year. Famous for its myriad colours and merriment, it is celebrated during mid April.
The other festivals celebrated by the people are Hapsa Hatarnai, Wngkham Gwrlwi Janai, Domashi. Among all the Kherai festival includes singing, dancing and drumming celebrated with much rejoice.
A green coloured Aronai with white Agor (design)
Aronai is a small Scarf, used both by Men and Women. Aronai is the sign of Boro tradition and is used to felicitate guests with honour, as a gift. In winter it is wrapped around the neck to warm up the body and generally used in the performance of Boro dance. In ancient period Boro warriors used Aronai as a belt in the battle field. At the time of the war, Boro women would weave Aronai within a single night and present it to the warriors as they set out for the battlefield.
Dokhona is the traditional dress of Boro women. In general the length of the Dokhona is 3 metres (m) and width is 1.5 metre (m), sometimes it depends upon the figure of the body. It is worn to cover the whole body from chest to legs by wrapping one round at a time over the waist. Varieties of Agor (design) and different types of colors are weaved for Dokhona. There are mainly two types of Dokhona- Plain Dokhona & Designed Dokhona. It can be divided into some sub types (according to design), it depends upon designers. They are - Without design (Matha Dokhona or bidon)
Designed (Agor gwnang)
Whole body designed (mwdwm gongse agor)
Designed in border only (jing jing aaolo agor lanai)
Slightly designed in body as well as border (gejwraobw ese agor erdernai)
Matha Dokhona (bidon) is actually plain, without any Agor (design). Used to wear while worshipping of God. It is available with different colours but Matha Dokhona with yellow colour is used as a traditional bridal attire, which is known as Dokhona Thaosi (pure Dokhona). Along with Hinjao Gwdan (bride), Bwirathi (Women receptionist of bride and bridegroom in Boro marriages) wear Matha Dokhona. The favourite colours are generally Gwmw (Yellow), Gwthang (Green), and Bathogang (Colour of parrot's feathers). Nowadays Boro women wear different colours of blouse with Dokhona to cover her upper bosom.
Boro women use Jwmgra (Scarf) to cover upper portion of the body (Length-around 2.5 metres, width-around 1 metre). They wear various colours of Jwmgra with varieties of Agor (design) to beautify themselves. The Hajw Agor (mountain design) is one of the most popular design among different designs.
The Gamsha is Boro male traditional attire. Generally it is 2 metre (m) length & 1.2 metre (m) width. Boro men used to cover the portion from waist to knee by tying it in the waist. Gamsha can be different colours but Green with white (in border) is the most common colour in Boro Gamsha. Gamsha is compulsory to wear while worshipping the god and for Boro bridegroom.
Apart from the above mention attires, Boro women weave many types of traditional cloths such as Sima (like a bed cover), Wool (big wool scarf), Jwmgra gidwr (big scarf) and Phali (Handkerchief) etc.
Handmade designs of the Boros
Hundreds of Boro handmade designs are there, which always bloom on the Boro traditional attires. Most of the Boro weavers says that, the Hajw agor and Parwo megon is the most common and important design on Boro traditional attires. In the early period, Boro women who didn't knew how to weave traditional attires, faced difficulties in getting married. Among the popular handmade designs, the following are 10 mostly used Agor (design) used by Boro women to decorate their attire -
Hajw Agor (design of hills)
Bandhuram Agor (design first crafted by Bandhuram kachari)
Phareo Megon (design like pigeon eye)
Daorai Mwkhreb (winkle of peacock)
Phul Mwbla (varieties of bloomed flowers)
Dingkhia Mohor (design representing fern leaf)
Bwigri Bibar (design representing the flowers of plum)
Muphur Apha (design representing the footprint of bear)
Agor Gidir (design like a diamond shape)
Gorkha Gongbrwi Agor (design representing twill)