Research Paper

Essence of Megalithism among the Ethnic Communities from Assam-Meghalaya Border Region

Authors: Smita Devi Bora

Year: 2023, Volume: 14, Page/Article: 63-76, DOI:

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The ethnic people living in the Assam-Meghalaya border region have a long-standing tradition of erecting megaliths in honour of their deceased ancestors. The study area is home to a heterogeneous population of tribal and non-tribal communities, such as the Bodo, Khasi, Tiwa, Karbi tribes, Bengali and a few Assamese caste populations. In the border region, there are quite a few megalithic sites where this tradition is still continued. The present study was conducted to examine the structural, functional, and socio-religious features of the megaliths recorded from the area in light of the ethno-archaeological potential of the megalithic tradition in this area. The researcher also tries to outline the structural and cultural changes that have been reported within this practice currently. Ethnographic methods of observation, interview, case study, genealogical method are applied to collect data. The study reveals that megalithic practice is deeply rooted in the socio-religious life of the followers. It stands as an emblem of clan solidarity, territorial marker, foundation indicator and holds the entire community to one whole. Changes also an inevitable aspect in this traditional age old practice due to the impact of urbanisation and industrialisation, but yet the continuity from ancient time till today is significant, which can be looked from aspects like ethnic identity and assertion, respect to their ancestral tradition and impact of environment etc. The current study also demonstrates the consistency and fusion of the megalithic typology, which is believed to have been a component of a huge geo-cultural region that stretched from Southeast Asia via Northeast India up to Eastern India.