Tai Ahom – the Longest Ruler of North East India:
Ahom’s are the only dynasty that ruled Assam for 600 long years. It was the largest kingdom of North –East India. They ruled Assam from the 13th century until the establishment of British rule in 1838. Ahom Kingdom is the only dynasty who successfully resist the Mughal expansion in the North –East India. The Ahom dynasty was established by the King Sukapha at 1253 A.D. He was a Tai King from Mong-Mao, and they came to Brahmaputra Valley based on Wet Rice Agriculture. They expanded so rapid and large and became multi-ethnic in character, providing a specific system of social, political and economic. They brought their own specific religious traditions, beliefs and customs, language and script, which were completely different from those of the people who had been living in Brahmaputra valley.
Religion of Tai-Ahom
Most of the Ahom people are Hindu in religion but some of them are Buddhists also. There are few people in the Ahom who follow Christianity. Some of the Ahom people follow their old Furalung religion. The Ahom people believe that when dead, a person goes to heaven and becomes a God. So, they worship ancestors who they believe will keep them safe.
Traditional Dress of Tai Ahom
Years ago, the Ahoms were seen to wear black clothes and later they switched to white clothes. During the Kingdom, the attire varies according to their positions. The higher officials, King, Queen, Prince and Princess used to drape turbans made of Pat-Muga in their head. They also wear a kind of scarf in their shoulder, which is known as the Seleng Sadar. The queen and other higher officials women worn Riha which is draped around the body and the shoulder and Mekhela worn in the waist. The King and other higher officials wear Sula–Suria, a kind of short shirts and clothes made Golden Muga, White Pat and Eri Silk etc. Majankari and Sopapotia kapur were also worn by the Kings, Queens or other higher officials in special occasions only.
After the end of kingdom ruling, the Ahom people started wearing the clothes made of cotton along with the Assam silk like Golden Muga, Pat Muga etc. The Ahom females started wearing the Mekhela Sadar and the males started wearing Suria to cover the waistline and Suti Sula to cover the upper body and tied Basual Tongali, a kind of belt type strap on their waist.
Along with the rich attire, the Ahom were also known for Golden Jewelleries and ornaments worn by them. At the past and now-a-days also, they wear heavy jewellery made of gold. The males were finger rings, Hilikhamoni and Motamoni kind of chains worn around the neck, an ear rings called Koriya and Lukapar and an armlet called Baju. The females wore Hirpota in head, Kopali on forehead, Keru, Thuria, Nejepota, Jangphai, Nejepota Jangphai, Uka Jangphai, Bakhrua, Long Keru, Boboiloga, Kaanphul and Karnabaala in ears, Baju, Muthikharu, Gaamkhuaru, Hosoruakharu, Potiya kharu, Mogormukhikharu, Guta kharu, Kangan and Doliya Kharu in hands, Siripota, Henepota, Jethinejiya, Parosokua, Mouranejiya, podumkoli, Barobirosa, Maas Bakoliya, Hirapota, Bakhorua and Uka as finger rings and Chandrahaar, Kokali, Kardhoni and Ghagor on waist and Joonbiri, Dholbiri, Doriyabiri, Hilikhabiri, Parosokuabiri, Lotabakhoruabiri, Madoli, Mogormuribiri, Gejera, Bena, Dugdugi, Haat hori, Thupamoni, Sipat, Golpota, Hilikhamoni, Phusimoni and Chadrahaar on their neck.
Festivals of Ahom People
Almost all of the Ahom people celebrated the traditional festival of Assam like Magh Bihu, Bohag Bihu, etc. The Tai Ahom people celebrated the traditional and ritual festivals of Assam both in public and within the family. As they celebrated mainly the agriculture based seasonal festivals such as Poi-Chankien or Bohag Bihu, Mai Ko Chung Phai or Meji Joluwa Utsav or Magh Bihu and Chip-song-ka or Kati Bihu are very important. Unlike Assamese people, the ancestor worship is the main motive of all this celebrations. They offers several traditional food and rice beer to the dead ancestor Ahom they believe that they became God after death and bless their family. Another agro-based ritual Phang Chi Mung is celebrated for well-being of village during crop failure, epidemic or bad weather. Tai ahom people celebrated the Na Khowa or Kin-on-Meu in the Aghun month after taking the harvested crop to their home. In this festival also, they offered first seasonal crop, fruit and vegetables to the dead ancestor before praying to them.
Read more about: Me-Dam-Me-Phi
One of the biggest occasion celebrated by the Tai Ahom people is Me-Dam-Me-Phi. The Ahom people celebrates Me-Dam-Me-Phi on 31st January every year in the memory of departed one. In Tai Ahom language, Me means offerings, Dam means the dead ancestors and Phi means Gods. So, Me Dam Me Phi is a ceremony in which offerings are made to dead ancestors and the Dam Chao Gods. It is one of the most important annual religious festivals of the Tai Ahoms and the rituals are performed annually to evoke blessings from the ancestors so that the living generation may live in peace and prosper in life. In the Me-Dam-Me-phi, Ahom people worship three Gods, namely Grihadam, Me Dam Me Phi and Dam Changphi. They offer them rice, mah-prasad, homemade wine, fish and also meat.
The Ahom people marriage is totally different from the other. The Ahom people marriage is termed as Chaklang. It is performed by the community with pomp and grandeur. The dynamic display of hundreds of earthen lamps arranged in a very beautiful manner and all the rituals carried out around that. The marital vows are taken with HANGDANG which is symbol of courage and the KAVAS KAPUR which is the symbol of protection of family and exchange of gold rings, lime box and knife.
The death related ritual Maidam dia or Gor kora is another unique ritual of Ahoms. The death people are buried in box-shaped coffin with bamboo called Rang. The priests make complete respectful offering on 11th, 13th, 17th and 21st day.
Another famous ritual of Tai Ahom people is Rik-Khan-Mung-Khan concerning with health and diseases. The elderly women of the village brings water from the nearby water source after propitiating the water god Khaokhom and give ritual bath to sick persons for his recovery or enhancing his vitality.
Ahom Surname Meaning
Historically, surnames evolved as a way to sort people into groups – by occupation, place of origin, clan affiliation, patronage, parentage, adoption, and even physical characteristics. Similarly the Ahom people are also categorized into a group of people according to their surname such as:
- Barooah : the one who lead 3000 man in Ahomm dynasty
- Bezbaruah : medical officer during the Ahom Regime
- Bharali : store keeper in the Ahom era
- Bora : An officer over 20 foot soldier during Ahom dynasty
- Borkotoki : chief accountant officer during Ahom era
- Buragohain : prime minister to the Ahom king
- Hazarika : the warrior in charge of 1000 soldier in Ahom dynasty
- Kotoki : An emissary to the Ahom rulers.
- Neog : An intelligent officer during the ahom era
- Phukan : one of the higher ranking military officer in the Ahom rul
- Rajkhowa : civil officer controlling 3000 menn in the Ahom dynasty
- Saikia : one who lead 100 foot soldier etc.
Traditional Foods of Tai Ahom people
The Ahom people have the best cuisine among all other tribes of Assam. The Ahom people are mostly non-vegeterian. Rice is the main item of the Main course. Alongside this, various cooked vegetables, mostly boiled and roasted meat are the side items. Some of the famous dish of Tai ahom people are:
- Chicken with Bamboo Shoot: Ahom people prepare a dish with chicken meat, bamboo shoot and lentil, which is an unique delicacy of Ahom cuisine.
- Leta: Polu or Leta is the one of the famous dish of Tai ahom people. The silkworm are steamed or boiled and then seasoned .Then served as snacks with drinks. It is mandatory to boil the Silkworm before eating . Some people make an another tribal dish stir fried polu with spices.
- Rice Beer: A well famous drink of Ahom peopleis the rice beer which is prepared from rice by blending it. This is all time favorite drink in the festive occasion. It is also called as Xaj.
- Duck meat curry: the duck is cooked with the lauki and whole spices .The dish can be cooked with other ingredient like lentil, sesame, pumpkin and a lot more!.This is a dish prepared on special occasions.
Ahome people also prepare a Curry from tender banana stem (pachala), duck meat, roasted rice and chili. They also A dish prepare a bhaji with herbs vegetables and other ingredients. This is a dish which is a part of meal on a daily basis. In this way, the Ahom people prepare several mouth watering dishes daily or for special occasions as well as traditional occasions.
Read also: Top five places to visit in Sivasagar (Ahom Kingdom)
Traditional Dance of Ahom
Ahoms are called as the founder of the Bihu dance. During the Ahom era, the ahom king Rudra Singha invited Bihu dancers to perform at Ranghar field on the occasion of Rangoli Bihu. The bihu dabce is a group dance performed by both males and females. But there are curtained rule of dancing according to the gender group. The male dancers enter in the dancing area first, forms a pattern there and perform different steps. Than the female dancers enter and perform their steps along with the male dancers. The bihu dance is performed on the Bihu song. The bihu dance is mainly performed during Rongali Bihu. But now a days bihu dance is common to celebrate any occasions.
Tai ahom song”Po kao chaolung” Zubeen & Jutimala
Video courtesy : Jutimala Buragohain
- Religion of Tai Ahom
- Traditional Dress of Tai Ahom
- Festivals of Ahom
- Ahom Surname Meaning
- Traditional Dance of Ahom