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Kokrajhar: The Bathou religion is the traditional faith of the Bodos. Thousands of Bathou practitioners have congregated at the 10th Conference here.
Bathou practitioners and delegates from Nepal, Bengal, Nagaland, Meghalaya, and from various parts of Assam thronged the 10th conference of the All Bathou Mahasabha at Simla in Baksa district.
Colourful programmes are scheduled during the four-day conference that began Thursday. It is being organised by the Paschim Baksa district of All Bathou Mahasabha. BTC executive member Buddhi Narzary inaugurated the main gate. It was followed by inauguration of a prayer hall by Mwnthir Chandra Boro, former president of Paschim Baksa district Bathou Mahasabha.
More than 10,000 delegates are participating in the conference. A delegate session was held this evening where the Sabha discussed various issues related to Bathou religion and community.
As of 2001, more than 90% of the Bodos living in Assam were believers of Bathouism. The percentage of Bathou believers decreased from 91.13% in 1991, to 90.31% in 2001. Only a few Bodos still believe in the Animist religion (2,478 in 1991, 141 in 2001).
In Bathouism is a form of forefather worship called Obonglaoree. The sijwu plant (belonging to the Euphorbia genus), is taken as the symbol of Bathou and worshiped. In the Bodo Language Ba means five and thou means deep. Five is a significant number in the Bathou religion.
About Bathouism writes historian Sailen Debnath, “According to Bathou this world is composed of five elements viz.Ether or Sky, Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Ba means Five and Thou means idea or theory or philosophy. Thus Bathou means the philosophy of Five. The term Ba is the abbreviated form of Minba meaning the five basic elements; and Thou is the abbreviation of Santhou meaning ‘Logos’ or knowledge or idea or philosophy or theory. Thus Bathou again is the abbreviation of Minbasanthou i.e. Minba + Santhou = Minbasanthou. The world and human life exist because of a balance among and between all the primary elements. If there is any imbalance of the elements, there is the problem of existence. There are deities symbolizing the spirits of the five elements by the propitiation of whom a balance can be better maintained. In Bodo social life, personal life, art and aesthetics the principles of Bathou or the principles of Five are always observed and maintained. Even in Bodo dance there are five art forms or “Mudras” of the body, hands, fingers and other limbs. Nearly in all other arts and expressions of things, always five forms, number and principles are followed as the embodiment of Bathou. The Bodos believe that as human beings they too were the outcome or offspring of the combination of five elements of Ether (sky), Fire, Water, Air and Earth in appropriate proportions and that was why they used to call themselves “ Saaba Midaini Fisa” in short ‘Badosa’ meaning the offspring of five elements. Bodo or Boro is the further phonetic transformation of the term Badosa (children of the Five Elements)”.
A clean surface near home or courtyard is considered as an ideal place for worship. Usually, a pair of areca nut called ‘goi’ and betel leaf called ‘pathwi’ could be used as offering. On some occasion, worship offering could include rice, milk and sugar. For the Kherai Puja, the most important festival of the Bodos, the altar is placed in the rice field. Other important festivals of the Bodos include Hapsa Hatarnai, Awnkham Gwrlwi Janai, Bwisagu and Domashi.
[additional information from wikipedia]