Bathou flag
Regions with significant populations
Assam, Northeast India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal
ethnic religion of Boro people
Boro language

Bathouism (also, Bathou) is the folk religion of the Boro people of Assam in Northeast India.[4] The name Bathou (Ba, five; thou, deep)[5] in Boro means five principles.[6] The five principles are: bar (air), orr (fire), ha (earth), dwi (water) and okhrang (ether).[7] The chief deity, called Bathoubwrai (bwarai: "the Elder")— omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent— is said to have created the five principles. Though there are other minor gods and goddesses, Bathoubwrai is considered the Supreme God. Bathoubwrai is unseen. The second most important deity is Mainao, the daughter of Bathoubwrai, who is considered as the "protector of the rice fields".[8][9]

It is reported that Bathouism will be included in the Indian census. About 1% of Boro people are officially identified as followers of Bathouism. This is because a lot of Bathouism followers are currently identified as Hindus. After all, it is not yet officially recognized.[10]


The altars of Kamaika (Khamaikha), Mainaw and Bathou are situated in the easternmost part of the main house.[11] Bathou is always worshiped in conjunction with the goddess Mainaw /Kamaika (Khamakha).[12] when worshiping, Baraja remains on the right side of Bathou and Mainaw remains on the left side and the worshipers always face east. When you bow down to the lamp and incense sticks in the Bathou, you have to rotate it 5 times in the anti-clockwise direction While to the Mainaw one is to rotate it 7 times in the anti-clockwise direction.

Sijou plant

The sijou plant, Euphorbia milii var. splendens [13][14] is considered the living embodiment of Bathoubwrai. Families that follow Bathouism plant a sijou shrub at the northeast corner of their courtyard, in an altar called sijousali. Bodo communities that follow Bathouism generally plant a sijou shrub at a community land, fenced with eighteen pairs of bamboo strips with five fastenings.[15] Each pair symbolizes a pair of minor god-goddess. The five fastenings signify, from bottom: birth, pain, death, marriage and peace/pleasure. The bottom three fastenings, called bando, are those that one cannot escape in life; whereas the top two one could.

Gods, goddesses and gurus

Sidney Endle differentiates between household gods and community gods.[16] Of the household gods Bathoubwrai, Mainao, Song Bwrai/Burai and Bura Bagh Raja are considered prominent.[17] The practice of representing Bathoubwrai by the sijou tree was more common among Boros (or Mech) of Goalpara region, and less so in Darrang. Song Raja is usually represented inside the house in an altar called dham, a deity who obtains devotion from women, and receives offerings during women's menses; but these offerings are eventually brought out and laid at the sijou tree representing Bathou.[18]

The eighteen pairs of gods-goddesses are:

  1. Mwnsinsin bwrai-Mwnsinsin burwi
  2. Si Bwrai-Si Burwi
  3. Aham Bwrai-Aham Burwi
  4. Khuria Bwrai-Khuria Burwi
  5. Eheo Bwrai-Eheo Burwi
  6. Mainao Bwrai-Mainao-Burwi
  7. Bwlli Bwrai-Bwlli Burwi
  8. Deva Bwrai-Devi Burwi
  9. Gongar Bwrai-Gongar Burwi
  10. Joumwn Bwrai-Joumwn Burwi
  11. Song Raja-Song Rani
  12. Hasung Bwrai-Hasung Burwi
  13. Rajong Bwrai-Rajong burwi
  14. Agrang Bwrai-Agrang Burwi
  15. Hazw Bwrai-Hazw Burwi
  16. Emao Bwrai-Emao Burwi
  17. Mohela Bwrai-Mohela Burwi
  18. Hafao Bwrai-Hafao Burwi



Traditional Bathouism did not have any written scriptures or religious books, nor temples. Worship is performed at the sijousali, and constitutes offering animals and fowls for sacrifice and rice beer. Notable religious festivals were Kherai, Garja and others. These ceremonies are performed by priests called Douri (male priest) and Doudini (female priest). This religion was not organized.


All Bathou Religious Union, an organization, was constituted in 1992 and it has begun reviving and reforming the traditional religion. The traditional role of the Douri and Doudini are replaced by the Gwthari Asari appointed by the organization, and a band of singers who sing in a practice called bathou aroj. The construction of temples, resembling churches or mosques called thansali, have come into being. Bathou aroj is performed on Tuesdays in thansalis. Sacrifices of animals and fowls, and offering of rice beer as modes of worship has been replaced by offering of flowers, fruits and the burning of incense. The partaking of prasad has also become popular.

See also


  1. ^ "639 Identifier Documentation: aho – ISO 639-3". SIL International (formerly known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics). SIL International. Retrieved 29 June 2019. Ahom [aho]
  2. ^ "Population by Religious Communities". Census India – 2001. Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Retrieved 1 July 2019. Census Data Finder/C Series/Population by Religious Communities
  3. ^ "Population by religion community – 2011". Census of India, 2011. The Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Archived from the original on 25 August 2015. 2011census/C-01/DDW00C-01 MDDS.XLS
  4. ^ "Bathou is the name of traditional religion of the Boros." Narzary 2014, p. 2
  5. ^ Narzary 2014, p. 28
  6. ^ "The meaning of the term ‘Bathou ’ is five deep principle of creation." Narzary 2014, p. 2
  7. ^ ".(O)f earth, water, air, fire and ether (ha, dwi, bar, or and okhrang). Narzary 2014, p. 3
  8. ^ Endle 1911, p. 37
  9. ^ Narzary 2014, p. 39
  10. ^ Inside NE 2019
  11. ^ Bhattacharya, Pramod Chandra (1977). A Descriptive Analysis of the Boro Language. Department of Publication, Gauhati University. p. 17.
  12. ^ Bhattacharya, P.C (1960). Sino - Tibetan ( Boro ) Elements in the Formation of an Indo - Aryan Toponymy : Kamakhya. Indian Linguistics. p. 43.
  13. ^ Endle 1911, p. 37
  14. ^ "The Bathouism or Bathou is symbolised by the Sijou plant Narzary 2014, p. 3
  15. ^ Narzary 2014, p. 43
  16. ^ Endle 1911
  17. ^ Endle 1911, pp. 35–36
  18. ^ Endle 1911, pp. 36–37