Oral Folk Narratives of the Garos
A·chik poetry can be divided into two categories namely traditional and written poetry. Oral narration of poetry of anonymous compositions is categorized under the traditional poetry. The compositions are recited or sung on certain occasions to an audience and to gods during ceremonies. They are passed down from one generation to another through word of mouth and they are preserved through oral translations. Almost all A·chik literature existed in the form of poetry. In earlier days the A·chiks did not have any written manuscripts and therefore most of their stories of the creation of life, their stories of migration, mention of the brave warriors and the battles fought were all narrated in the form of poetry. The different types of traditional poetry were as follows:
- Ku·ramasala or Chronicles:
The achik is a community of oral tradition of migration, from Tibet which is alive in ku-ramasala. Most of their history was orally transmitted in narrative verse using rhymed couplets. If we see their migration history which is orally transmitted from the mouth of generation to generation. We can explore the names of their leaders, the cause of their flight from Tibet, and the manner of migration and the various places of settlement.
Katta agana or epic Storytelling relating to the legends of Dikki and Bandi, Giting, Kanjing, Sore, and other traditional cultural heroes and heroines of the A·chiks are mentioned in this epic poem. There are varieties of Katta Agana, such as dokkotchua, ring·badria, katchidoka, katchiring·a, dokmandeaor a·bengkatta, rugakatta, a·wekatta, chisakkatta and ring·dikgila.
- Katta Bima:
This is a form of poetry that concerns itself with myths and legends of the ancestors and of the ancient past, myths connected with rivers and deep pools or wari, myths of the guardian spirits, and of gods and goddesses. This kind of poetry also includes stories of unusual events, tales of origin and creation myths, of animals and of insects.
- Katta Salling:
It is said that Salling, a blind man initiated this type of folk song. He is said to have been the resident of the Gabil A·king or the territory of the Gabil clan. The poem is unique in the sense that its subject matter is mother-nature in all her manifestations. Besides having nature as the central theme in most of the poems there are other forms of poetry like songs of inaugurating a house, and chants during rituals and ceremonies.
This is a narration of the story of two beautiful sisters Gangga and Rutha, their romance with the incomparable Jingjang, a story similar in many ways to that of Dikki.
- Kabe or Dirge or Funeral Wail:
The genre called Kabe (heartbreak) comes from the word ka·a or ka·tong which means ‘heart’ and be·a meaning ‘break’, is mostly sung by women, who may or may not be related to the deceased. The songs are sung by the women while keeping a vigil on the body of the deceased and later again at the post-funeral ceremony. The women wail over the dead for several days and nights. Read more
Read more on History of Garo Language and Literature.