Origin of the Kalita

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  • Topic: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Ahom kingdom
  • Pages : 6 (1625 words )
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  • Published : April 7, 2013
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East India are a unique Hindu social group who have been a dominant caste through the ages. Assam is known for its large number of groups with their own distinctive culture. It is the cradle of twenty seven indigenous ‘tribes’ and unique in the world for its position as the home of so many different groups of people. Kalitas inhabited all areas of the plains of Assam and, according to Sir Edward Gait, they were the numerically predominant caste of the province as well as its "enlightened and advanced community"

Origin of the Kalita
The Kalita originally came to Assam from the west along with a minority from the northern parts of India who were mostly from the ancient kingdom of Kannauj. Like other Aryan descendants of northern India, they were tall and fair. The most recent wave of Kalita migration from far-off places in Northern India and the Himalayas occurred during Ahom rule in the 15th and 16th century. They were the earliest Indo-European migrants to settle in Assam and are supposed to have introduced Hinduism to the Northeastern part of India. The Koch and Ahom kings also brought Kalita people from places including Kannauj, Kashi, and Mithila to their own kingdoms and gave them both honour and prestige. They are claimed to have brought the Indo-European Assamese language to the Brahmaputra Valley.

Alpine migration to Assam
This group are classified as of Alpine descent based on their broad-headedness in the cephalic index, a trait found in all Alpine people from Central Europe and their descendants. Alpines are a subgroup of the Caucasoid race found in Central and Eastern Europe. Nordics (Aryans) are another subgroup of the same race found in Northern Europe. Other Indo-Aryan caste groups of Assam such as the Brahmins are mostly long-headed (dolicocephalic) having a tall stature and fair complexion. However, some ethnologists disagree as to whether Kalitas should be classified as Alpines, believing that the group actually have mesocephalic head shapes. The physiognomy of the Kalitas is not markedly different from that of the other Indo-Aryan castes of Assam and the question of whether they are Alpines or Aryans remains unsettled. Others like author Kaliram Medhi are of the opinion that the Kalitas are a group of pre-Vedic Caucasoids as the type of Hinduism they brought to Assam was different from that prevalent in other parts of India. The Kalitas acted as priests of the Koch Kings prior to the arrival of the Vedic Brahmins. Thereafter, the Kalitas were displaced from their position by the Vedic Brahmins. Professor B.S. Guha has found similarities between the Alpine Nagar Brahmins of Gujarat and the Kalitas of Assam. According to him, the surnames mentioned in the Nidhanpur land grants of Kamarupa King Bhaskaravarman are not of Vedic Brahmins but those of the Kalitas of Assam. He also finds similarities in surnames with those of the Nagar Brahmins – one of the oldest Brahmin groups of India. Scholars now believe that the Kalitas were a pre-Vedic Caucasoid (Alpine/Aryan) priestly group similar to the Brahmins

Historic Kalita kingdom
The existence of a Kalita kingdom in North eastern India is mentioned in a number of credible literary sources. A report by Mr. Moffal Mills and Maniram Dewan written during the British occupation of India records, “It appears that there was an Aryan settlement at a distance of 15 days march through hilly roads from the Ahom territory, beyond the regions occupied by the Abors and the Miris. The people bore Hindu names like Vasudeva, Harideva, Sankarsan etc,. There was also a Hindu king in the land. The name of the kingdom was Kolita.”John Bryan Neufville, appointed as Political Agent, Upper Assam and Junior Commissioner at Rangpur in 1828, also subscribed to this idea. He wrote: The country to the eastward of Bhot (Bhutan) and northward of Sadiya (Upper Assam), extending on the plain beyond the mountains, is said to be possessed by a powerful nation called Kolitas, who are...
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