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THE RAJBANSIS OF NORTH BENGAL by CHARU CHANDRA SANYAL

The Rajbanshis of North Bengal PDF | Rajbanshi History

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THE RAJBANSIS OF NORTH BENGAL: PREFACE

A Hindu social group of people called the Rajbansis living in the extreme northern region of West Bengal have been very little studied. The census reports have given some secounts but imperfectly. Hodgson, Dalton, Risley, O’Malley, Gait, Hutton, and some other scholars have described some historical and ethnological accounts of them. Grierson has touched a fringe of their dialect. K. P. Biswas has given some account of the dialect and folk culture of Rangpar. This monograph is an attempt to give an idea of the folk life and culture of the Rajbansis living in Darjeeling Terai (Siliguri), Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar of West Bengal,

The study of folk life and culture of these people has become important when attitudes are changing fast due to the impact of Western civilization and more so after the partition of Bengal when large-scale immigration of people from lower North and East Bengal is taking place in this area and within a very short time a profound culture missing is sure to take place and some of the age-long customs may disappear altogether.

The people of the villages are deeply rooted in the soil and have retained many of their ancient customs and habits. They have faith in supernatural powers and rituals to propitiate them are still to be found. Their marriage customs and religious rituals have distinct characteristics of their own. Their sports, jokes, common sayings, and songs reveal their simple nature and intelligence.

The dialect which is a local variety of Bengali language is interesting and is a storehouse of many words that may enrich any standard language of India. Simple grammar and vocabulary have been added for the purpose.

Three years after the Jalpaiguri district was created our family came here and settled in Jalpaiguri town before there was any railway connection to this place. I was born in this town and have spent three score years of my life in this district amongst these people. My public duties and profession gave me ample opportunities to move to the villages of these three districts and to live amongst them from time to time. My family had some agricultural land in far-off villages in the district of Jalpaiguri where I had to live amongst the cultivators and mix with them intimately. I understand their dialect, and most of them understand the standard colloquial Bengali. 1, therefore, required no interpreter. I could study village life firsthand hand and the information secured from my numerous Rajbansi friends was scrupulously checked by interrogating many others. Careful notes were kept and many photographs were taken, some of which appear in this monograph.

Whatever may be the opinion about the Rajbansis of this area, it is to be admitted that in this world various people with their distinct attitudes have contributed to the development of civilization, and the peoples who are now looked upon as backward, if properly understood and appreciated, may ultimately help to bring about a further achievement of our human heritage.

In writing this monograph both Romanised and Bengali scripts have been used for better understanding. A simple phonetic system has been used in the case of Romanised transcription and standard Bengali spelling has been followed in a large measure while writing in Bengali characters. The latter has in some places slightly affected the correct pronunciation of the dialect.

The author gratefully acknowledges his indebtedness to Professor Suniti Kumar Chatterji, a National Professor of India; to the late Dr. B. C. Roy, Ex-Chief Minister, West Bengal to Sri Humayun Kabir, Minister for Petroleum and Chemicals, Government of India; to Professor Nirmal Kumar Bose, formerly Director General of Anthropology, Government of India, on whose recommendations the Government of India and the Government of West Bengal sanctioned a generous sum to the Asiatic Society, Calcutta, who very kindly undertook to publish this book. To them, therefore, this book owes in existence.

I am also grateful to Professor T C Das of the Anthropological Department of the University of Calcutta, to Dr. K. P. Das of the University of Visva-Bharati and to Professor Nirmal Kumar Bose for kindly going through some portions of the manuscript and for their valuable suggestions. My thanks are due to the late Professor K. P. Chattopadhyay of the Department of Anthropology, University of Calcutta, for his advice. I also express my thanks to Shri U. N Burman, M. P., Shri M. M. Burman, Shri Mona Ray, Shri Uday Das, and Shri Nikhil Ghattack, Shri D. Bhattacherjee of the Pandit family of the village Khagrabaree in Cooch Behar, who rendered me great help in collecting songs and common sayings. To many [other friends and assistants my thanks are also due.

CHARU CHANDRA SANYAL,
Jalpaiguri (W, Bengal) The 10th August, 1963.

THE RAJBANSIS OF NORTH BENGAL TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER I
Distribution, Environment, and Character of Northern Rajbansis–
The Ruling Dynasties of Cooch-Behar and Jalpaiguri–
Antecedents of Northern Rajbansis
(a) Historical and Ethnological Data
(b) Census Figures
(c) Inferential – Hindu Scriptures
CHAPTER II
The Material Culture of the Rajbansis
The Village, growth, naming, Typical Village The Home of the Rajbansis

Building Customs, Selection of the Site,
Plan of a Hut, Hut, House Entrance Living Conditions
Males, Women, Sleeping, Meeting place,
Cleaning of Clothing
Daily Life-Duties of Men, Women, Children,
Elders and Songs
Parts of a House, A Hut Household Articles
Personal Decorations
Fishing, Fishing Implements, Traps
Hunting, Traps
Foods and their preparation, Special Foods
Agriculture and Implements, Songs Spinning and Weaving
Animal Husbandry
Transport, Parts of a Bullock Cart, Boats
CHAPTER- III
Birth Customs
Pregnancy, Labour, Delivery, Care of the Mother,
Care of the Child
First Look at the Child
Period of Confinement, First Unclean Period
Complications of Child Birth, Protracted Labour,
Remedies, Songs
Diseases of the New Born, Midwife,
End of the Second Unclean Period
Childhood, Care of the Child, Lullaby
Name Giving
First Feeding
Puberty, Sports, and Games
Jokes and Songs
CHAPTER IV
Marriage Customs, Inheritance, Types of Marriage, Porua or Gotra
Regular forms of Marriage, Bride Price, Marriage with other castes
Irregular forms of Marriage Marriage Limitations, Prohibition, Divorce
Marriage Rituals
Other forms of Regular Marriage
Marriage Songs
CHAPTER V
Death and its Attendant Ceremonies Transportation of the corpse, Burial,
Cremation, Funeral Pyre
Lighting the Pyre, Circumambulation, Return Home
Gathering of Frontal Bone, Purification of the House
Period of Mourning Post Funeral Rites (Sraddha)
Disposal of the Frontal Bone
Concept of the Soul after Death
CHAPTER VI
Social Relations
Family, Village, Grouping, Acquiring or
Losing Membership
Social Structure, Family Genealogical Tables
Terms of Relationship
CHAPTER VII
Religious Beliefs and, Practices
Divine Orders
Images, Rituals of Worship
Religious Festivals and Rituals, Some Old Shrines and Deities Meceni Khela, Modon Kam, Kali, Dhoroin Thakur, Jogannath, Gotsupuna, Satyanarayan, Jitna, Othai-pothi, Goroknath, Devi, Bhandani, Luxmi Dak, Monosha, Siva-ratri, Dham, Bisua, Chorok, Hudma, Tista-buri, Saleswari, Bhadra-Kali, Dhap-Chandi, Mahakal, Pet-kati, Utthan-ekadasi, Dhan-Kata, Naya-Khawa, Baruni, Religious Songs
CHAPTER VIII
Supernatural Agencies and their Propitiation
Protective Measures
Magical Beliefs and Practices
Charmed Arrow, Exorcism
Village Medicines
Witches
CHAPTER IX
Riddles
Proverbs, Unusual Phenomena. Common Sayings
CHAPTER X
Songs
Music and Musical Instruments
Marriage songs Love songs, Dotrar Gan, Gulapeswarier Gan, Chor Churnir Gan, Religious songs, Siva’s marriage song, Vote song, Girir Addas, Gua-paner Gan, Asiba Din
CHAPTER XI
Quarrel between two villagers
A few texts to show the difference between Jalpaiguri and Cooch-Behar Dialects
CHAPTER XII
Dialect of the Rajbansis and an Outline of Grammar

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[PDF] THE RAJBANSIS OF NORTH BENGAL by CHARU CHANDRA SANYAL
PublishersThe Asiatic Society
Year of PublicationPublished in 1965
First Reprint in 2002
Second Reprint in March 2020
Place of PublicationKolkata
LanguageEnglish
Pages272p.;
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