Village Administration among the Tiwa: A Discourse on The Loroship
The Tiwa are one of the many aboriginal tribal groups in North-East India. Settled in Morigaon, Nagaon, Kamrup and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam and Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya, they have long been referred to as “Lalung” by other neighbouring groups (Khasi-Jaintia, Karbi) and in colonial records. The people in question however refer to themselves as Tiwa. They are divided into two cultural and social divisions- those settled in the plains, speak Assamese, follow a patrilineal descent system and bear Assamese patronyms, and those residing in the hills, speaks a Tibeto-Burmese language of the Bodo-Garo group, are primarily matrilineal and divided into clearly identified clans from which they trace their descent. Thus the Tiwa follow a bilineal descent system or more specifically an ambilineal descent. The hill Tiwa are still a follower of traditional way of life. It is reflected in their socio-cultural habits and customs. The hill Tiwa has a distinct set of system to manage the affairs of their villages. Their village administration is headed by the Loro who is not only the spiritual head but also the main functionary of the village law and order. He also acts as the primary authority in handling any socio-economic disputes. However the Loro is not the sole or absolute authority in a traditional Tiwa village. He has to act with the cooperation of the village council known as Pisai. In a Tiwa village the youth leaders also plays a significant role in every aspect of the society. The youth body Panthai khel is headed by Changdoloi and he has a number of officials that discharges various duties in the affairs of the villages. The Panthai Khel is the managers of the village youth dormitory known as Chamadi. In short the Tiwa village administration is a mechanism of social and political control and institution of cultural continuity. This paper is an attempt to study the village administration among Tiwa with a special discussion on the Loroship as he is the centre of power both in social and spiritual affairs. It will highlight the genesis of the Tiwa tribe and the emergence of various parts of the village administration such as the Panthai khel and the Pisai. It will also look into the significance of the Chamadi system in the traditional village administration among the Tiwa of North East India.
Key words: Ambilineal, Patronyms, Loro, Bilineal, Changdoloi, Panthai, Khel, Pisai, Chamadi.