Agricultural Calendar of the Garos
Traditionally, Garos follow an annual calendar that is based on the different stages of cultivation. Bone Nirepa Jane Nitepa, the first person to have started jhum (shifting) cultivation, is said to have named these stages which later began to be used as calendar months.
Traditionally, Garos follow an annual calendar that is based on the different stages of cultivation. Bone Nirepa Jane Nitepa, the first person to have started jhum (shifting) cultivation, is said to have named these stages which later began to be used as calendar months. Different months used in Garo calendar (Garo Month Approx. Gregorian month Activities).
Galmakja March Month of burning plots
Mebakja April Month of planting paddy seeds
Jagro May Long month of weeding
Sogalja June Month of burning incense in celebration
Jamebok July Month of fullness
Jamegap August Month of paddy harvest in 2nd year’s plot
Mejapang September Month when paddy stalks are left in plot
A.anija October Month of selecting new plots
Berokja November Month of preparing plot for 2nd year’s cultivation
Kilokja December Month of picking cotton
Awitja January Month of burning debris in a 2nd year’s plot
Wachengja February Month of drying jungles in a fresh plot
A brief note on the activities connected to these months is pertinent at this point (Rongmuthu, 1960).
Galmakja is the month of burning down the debris in a fresh jhum plot. Here, initially, trees and shrubs were cut down and left to dry, and eventually in this month they are burnt. This is a dry month just before the onset of monsoon.
Mebakja is the month of digging up the soil in previous years’ jhum fields for sowing paddy seeds. Jagro is the month when paddy, millet and other cereals grow in jhum fields. It means a “long month,” because of longing expectations of the fresh fruits of labour in the jhum fields. The returns have not yet been reaped, and thus the months look longer for cultivators than other months.
Sogalja is the month of ritual burning of incense, accompanied by chanting age-old sacrificial songs and solemn offerings of rice flour, rice bran and rice beer out of the first fruits of the jhum fields on the permanent altars at home before any member of the family at home ever tastes them. This is offered to Misi Saljong the god of firmament and fertility.
Jamebok is the month of ripening of paddy in the jhum fields. This is followed by Jagapja (or Jamegap), the month of paddy harvest. Jagapja means the month of fullness. It is the busiest month of the year for jhum cultivators. The crops in the jhum fields need careful and vigilant watching at nights against attacks of wild pigs, deer, bear and wild elephants; the granaries need renovation, or are to be freshly constructed; baskets, mats and other things necessary for storing paddy and other jhum produce must be ready. In addition, paddy must be harvested and stored without the least possible delay– all within this month.
Mejapang is the month in which the paddy stalks are left in the old jhum fields, the harvest being over. Once the harvest is over it is the month of selecting places in the jungles for the next jhum clearings.
This is called the month of A.anija. Berokja – the month of removing weed and millet-corn stalks in the previous year’s jhum fields so as to convert them into abreng (second year’s plot).
Kilokja is the month of picking of cotton in the jhum fields. Awitja is the month of removing debris in the abrengs, collecting them in heaps and burning them down so as to be ready for sowing of paddy seeds.
Wachenga is the month of drying the debris in the fresh jhum clearings. With this the cycle continues once again.