An Account of the Socio Cultural Life and Language of the Garos
Garo and the Garos opine that the name has been assigned to the indigenous community by the non-Garos. It may be mentioned that the Garos themselves do not use the term which they believe does not represent the Community. Instead they introduce themselves as ‘Achik’, the literal meaning of ‘Achik’ is hill but when the word is in plural number viz. ‘Achikarang’, it represents the entire Garo Community. The Garo themselves prefer to call themselves as ‘Achik Mande’ i.e. hill people. Similarly the term ‘Achik Asong’ signifies land of the Garos and the term ‘Achik Kusik’ is used for Garo languages.
Another interpretation is that the term Garo is derived from the Bodo word ‘Gao’ meaning to separate or ‘Gar’meaning to love or abandon. The Bodos and the Dimasas believe that the Garos have been separated community from them with separate nomenclature as ‘Gao’ or ‘Gaora’. The Bodos consider the Garos as their brothers.
According to Majumdar the headquarter of the Garo Hills district Tura was known earlier as ‘Dhura’ and in due course the ‘Dhura’ became Garo. As such the inhabitants o fthe hilly areas of the South Goalpara came to be known as Garos.
According to a legend prevalent among the Garos, there was a very powerful leader among the Garos in the Hills whose name was ‘Gara’ and the Community was known as ‘Garo’. The elderly Garos believe that the term Garo has been derived from a section of the Garos known as ‘Gara Ganching’.
Major A. Playfair in his enthnography – The Garos corroborates the above origin of the term Garo. “In the Southern part of the Hills there exists a division of the tribes who call themselves ‘Gara’ or ‘Ganching’ ……. . It is therefore not unlikely that the division of the tribe first received their appellation of ‘Gara’, that the name was extended to all the inhabitants of the Hills, and that in time it became corrupted from ‘Gara’ to ‘Garo’.
Whatever may be the origin, majority of the researchers and Anthropologists are of the opinion that as the people are living in Garo Hills district, presently under the Meghalaya state, the people came to be known as Garos.