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Thursday, October 14, 2010


Besides hunting, fishing etc., a popular pastime of the Garos and the Nagas till recent times was head-hunting. Apart from killing human beings in their raids on the plains for sheer fun, human victims were required for sacrificial purposes also. Head-hunting was effectively stopped in the Garo Hills as late as 1876 only. In that year as many as two hundred skulls were surrendered by the Garos to the Deputy Commissioner in his camp at a place called Rongrengiri, a few miles from Tura, the district headquarters.
There is no evidence of head-hunting having been practiced by any of the other tribes except perhaps the Kukis. The Lushais also raided the plains frequently before their land was occupied by the British, but they were satisfied with carrying off captives and were not after heads. Human sacrifices were, however, common in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, especially among the Jaintias who might have borrowed the practice from Tantrik Hindus of the plains. Such sacrifices are known to have been practised in the temple of Kamkhya near Guwahati and particularly by the Hinduised Miris, in the temple of the dread goddess Tamreswari near Sadiya. Colonel Gurdon, however, expresses the opinion that these sacrifices were originally made to the river Kopili, which the Jaintias worshipped as a goddess. The stone on which the victims were decapitated can still be seen on the bank of the Kopili river near Garampani in the Jaintia Hills.
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