Origin of the Garo/Achik Month
An ancient patriarch among the Achiks known as Bonepa Janepa, first cleared the jungle on the hill of Misi Kokdok in the land of Shokhadam for the purpose of jhum cultivation. His was the first jhum cultivator in Achik Ahsong. This patriarch strictly observed and performed all the rites connected with jhum cultivating as ordained by Misi Apilpa Saljong Galapa to Ahni Apilpa Chini Galapa, another patriarch who was the first among the Achik to obtain rice. Bonepa Janepa, as the first jhum cultivator in the hills of Achik Ahsong, invented the names of the months which are derived from the nature of the round of man’s activities in jhum or shifting cultivation in Garo Hills, as shown below:
Galmakja is the month of burning down of debris in jhum clearings. Galmakja refers to a certain period in the annual temporal cycle of jhum cultivation.
Mebakja is the month of burning up of the earth in previous year’s jhum fields for sowing of paddy-seeds.
Jagro is the month of growth of paddy, millet and other cereals in jhum fields. It means “a long month” because longing expectation of the fresh fruits of man’s labours in the jhum fields, out of which no returns have come out as yet, tends to make the month seem for cultivators much longer than others.
Sohgalja is the month of ritual burning of jhum field 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 of them to Misi Saljong, the God of firmament and of fertility.
Jagapja (or Jamegap) is the month of paddy-harvest on jhum-cultivations. Jagapja means “the month of fullness”. It is the busiest month of the year for ihum cultivators. The crops in the jhum fields need careful and vigilant watching at nights against depredations 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 of paddy and other jhum produce must be ready, besides paddy must be harvested and stored within the least possible delay-all within this month.
Jamebok is the month of ripening of paddy in ihum fields so as to give out white husked-rice.
Mejaphang is the month of abandoning the paddy stalks in the old jhum-fields, the harvest being over.
Ahnija is the month of selecting places in the Jungles for next jhum-clearings.
Berokja is the month of removing weed and millet corn-stalks in the previous year’s jhum-fields so as to convert them into ahbrengs (second-staged jhum cultivations).
Khitokja is the month of picking up of cotton-wool in the jhum-fields.
Awitja is the month of removing debris in the ahbrengs collecting them into heaps and burning them down so as to be ready for sowing of paddy seeds.
Wachengja is the month of drying up or sunning the debris in the fresh jhum clearnings.
The Achik forefathers universally accepted these names of the months, which in the fitness of things, connote their periodical jhuming activities all the year round. Read more Achik Season name