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Deoris in Assam to pen their history for first time

- Weekend retreat by scholars of community this weekend to prepare book

Guwahati, June 19: The Deori community in Assam is going to have the first book on its history. Scholars and writers of the community will sit together in Upper Assam’s Sivasagar district this weekend to prepare the book.

The meet has been organised by Deori Sahitya Sabha, a literary body that has been working for development of Deori language and literature.

“The central executive members, presidents and secretaries of each district committee of the Sabha and members of our research and history committees will take part at the meeting,” said Probin Kumar Deuri, general secretary of the Sabha. The community, which has about 2.5 lakh members and a unique culture, is concentrated in a few districts of Upper Assam. According to the 2001 census, there are 133 Deori-inhabited revenue villages in Assam and their population is 2,45,000. Deuri said there was no book exclusively on the history of the community and hoped that the proposed one would open a door for other people of the state to know and understand the community.

Sources said the Deoris, unlike the Ahoms, did not have the tradition of chronicling events, which would make the task of preparing a history book on the community difficult.

Deuri said they would do field studies in areas where the community has been living for centuries, like Dihing Patkai and Greater Sadiya in Upper Assam, to gather information. “We cannot rely only on the history books available. We will do extensive field study.”

Preliminary study on the book has been under way for the past two years during which the Sabha has held several rounds of meetings, including one in Guwahati. Prominent historians of the state have participated in these meetings.

What is worrying the Sabha is that only members of the Dibongia clan (who live on the banks of the Dibong) of the community can speak their mother tongue while the other two, Tenaponya (who live along the river Tengapani) and Borgonya (who live along the river Bornoi), have forgotten it.

Deuri said they plan to teach the language to those who have forgotten it and their task would be more fruitful if the state government appoints 150 teachers as proposed by them.

“In association with the State Council of Education Research and Training of the Assam government, we have prepared some books for the purpose. If the government appoints the teachers, work will go on smoothly,” he said.

The Sabha has accepted the Assamese script for Deori language.

The Sabha is also working on compiling the first trilingual dictionary on their language (Deori-Assamese-English) along with North Guwahati-based Anundoram Borooah Institute of Language, Art and Culture. It is expected to be completed in three years.

The meeting will also discuss their preparedness for the Sabha’s 32nd biennial conference, which is scheduled to be held at Sivasagar in January next year.