Regions with significant populations
Related ethnic groups
Indo-Aryan professional caste, Koch, Boro, Tiwa , Karbi

Kalita is an ethnic group or a caste of Assamese Hindus belonging to the state of Assam in North East India.[web 1] Kalita is a forward caste and belongs to General or Unreserved category.[web 2] Kalita represents a category in the tribe-caste continuum of Assamese society that is placed between the Keot on one side and Ganak and Brahmin on the other.[4][5] According to historians like S.L.Barua, Kalitas started migrating from North and East India to Assam during the 11th century rule of Dharmapal.[6]


Legendary origins

According to the Purana tradition, the Kalitas are considered as pure Aryan, though this is not accepted as absolute truth.[7] Though the Aryan descent theories endorse the arrival of the Kalitas "before the rise of the existing professional castes", the Kalitas generally claim to belong to the Kshatriya caste, and call themselves kulalupta,[8] kula meaning caste and lupta meaning gone ("lost caste") in the context of the legend that the Kalitas "were Ksatriyas who fled from the wrath of Parasurama who was determined to exterminate the Ksatriya and later concealed themselves in the forest of Assam.[9]

Other hypothesis of origins

According to the legends, they are "the non-Vedic Aryans" who are responsible for bringing Aryan culture to Assam. Having mingled with local population, they still preserve certain elements of Aryan culture even after localising their culture to some extent.[10]

B.S. Guha has found similarities between some surnames of "Alpine Nagar Brahmins" of Gujarat with those of North East India, as referred in the Nidhanpur land grants of Kamarupa King Bhaskaravarman (6th century A.D.) such as Datta, Dhara, Deva, Nandi, Sena, and Vasu, etc. and connects them with the Kalitas of Assam.[11][page needed] Again, historian Kanaklal Barua mentions these surnames while referring to the Nidhanpur inscription and says that these surnames "now belong almost exclusively to the Bengali Kayasthas".[12]

Few scholars including K.R. Medhi, K.L. Barua, P.C. Choudhuri, M. Neog, B. K. Kakati made speculations by drawing the references of Greek records, words like Kakatiai, Kalaiai, Kaltis, Koudontai, Kudutai, Gurucharitis and few early religious literatures to establish the Kalitas through materials not based on ethnology or anthropology. According to B.C. Allen, all the Hinduised people except Brahmins were Kalita barring other aboriginal groups like Bodo-Kachari.[13]

Mirroring the history of lower Assam, the Kalitas were regarded to be a part of the Koches.[14] They are considered to be the original priestly class of the Koch ethnic group[15] but with the introduction of Brahmins by Biswa Singha, the Kalitas were replaced from their original priesthood position.[16][17][18] In Upper Assam, Kalita represents the highest category in the tribe-caste continuum of Assamese society. In this process, a tribal neophyte usually belonging to Kachari, Garo, Lalung, Mikir peoples,[19] takes initiation in a Sattra under a Guru and successively discards his own beliefs and habits to be replaced by the Hindu social code.[20] It is also observed that lowercaste groups such as the Sut and even Duliya (a section of Nath Jogis) in an attempt for upward mobility in the caste hierarchy describe themselves as Sut Kalita and Duliya Kalita[21][22][23] and this is true for artisan caste like the Kumar, Komar, Sonari, Katani, Nat (Dancers) who attach the term Kalita to their name for similar purposes.[24][25][26]

Demand of reservation

Since 1988, few people of the Kalita community has been demanding Scheduled Tribe status.[web 3] All Assam Kalita Janogosthi Student Union (AAKJSU) has demanded 50% reservation in government sector jobs and demanded reservation of 25 MLA seats in Assam, 3 in Lok Sabha and 2 in Rajya Sabha seats from Assam.[web 3] They also demanded the formation of a Kalita Development Council and the Pagjyotishpur Autonomous Council.[web 4]

Notable Kalitas

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. ^ Sharma 2009, p. 358.
  5. ^ Cantile 1980, p. 234.
  6. ^ S.L. Barua, A Comprehensive History of Assam, p. 15.
  7. ^ Manilal Bose (1998). Social and Cultural History of Ancient India. Concept Publishing Company. p. 29. ISBN 9788170225980. Archived from the original on 21 November 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2014. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  8. ^ Col Ved Prakash (2007). India, Northeastern. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 150. ISBN 9788126907038. Archived from the original on 22 November 2020. Retrieved 12 October 2014. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  9. ^ S. K. Sharma; U. Sharma, eds. (2005). Discovery of North-East India: Geography, History, Culture, Religion, Politics, Sociology, Science, Education and Economy. North-East India. Volume 1. Mittal Publications. p. 93. ISBN 978-81-83-24035-2. Archived from the original on 17 April 2022. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  10. ^ G.K. Ghosh (2008). Bamboo: The Wonderful Grass. APH Publishing. p. 184. ISBN 9788131303696. Archived from the original on 23 November 2020. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  11. ^ Phani Deka. The great Indian corridor in the east Archived 13 April 2023 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ S. K. Sharma; U. Sharma, eds. (2005). Discovery of North-East India: Geography, History, Culture, Religion, Politics, Sociology, Science, Education and Economy. North-East India. Volume 1. Mittal Publications. p. 182. ISBN 978-81-83-24035-2. Archived from the original on 1 July 2023. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  13. ^ (Chatterjee 1998:442)
  14. ^ "He has divided Koches of Assam into three groups–Kamkhali, Madai and Kalita"(Adhikary 2009:59)
  15. ^ "Before Biswa Singha the Koches were not Hindus, most probably they followed tribal religion and Kalitas were their priest...He [Biswa Singha] sought to introduce the formal structure of Brahminical faith. The Brahmana priests replaced everywhere the old village priest (Kalitas)"(Sheikh 2012:251)
  16. ^ "On the account of their geographical proximity to Bengal, the Koches were made to feel the influence of Hinduism , soon after the establishment as a strong political power in the region covered by the modern Rangpur, Jalpaiguri, Koch Bihar as well as part of Dinajpur. They soon discarded the tenets inculcated by the Kolitas, the original priesthood of the tribe and came under the fold of Brahminical faith"(Sheikh 2012:253)
  17. ^ "The power of the Kolitas received a severe blow by the introduction of Kamrupi Brahmans by Visu [Biswa Singha]"(Sheikh 2012:253)
  18. ^ "Yet the conflict between the local priest like Kalitas, Deosis [Deodhai] and Brahmanas for religious supremacy continued for a long time"(Sheikh 2012:253)
  19. ^ (Cantile 1980:237–239)
  20. ^ "By undergoing a 'renunciation' (of certain erstwhile tribal customs) and enunciation (of certain Hindu customs), the tribal neophytes could move to higher stages. A saru Koch become a Koch by abandoning the habit of eating pork and drinking liquor and observing the religious customs prescribed by the guru. If this lifestyle is followed for three generations a Koch could acquire the status of a bor Koch (Raichoudhury,2005:37) By undergoing a similar process a bor Koch could become a saru Keot or a bor Keot and a bor Keot a Kalita. In the process, in a matter of a few generations it even became possible for many tribal neophytes to enter into the coveted fold of caste system (Sharma,2006:36)"(Sharma 2009:358)
  21. ^ "The Kalita caste has acted as a refuge for other castes seeking to improve their status by adopting the prestigious title of Kalita, a tendency which contributes to the internal differentiation of the caste....In the vicinity of Panbari there were groups of Borias or Suts who described themselves as Sut Kalita, a development that has occurred in recent years."(Cantile 1980:235)
  22. ^ Duliya Kalitas are said originally to have been Jugis and they are recorded in the 1891 Census as one of the five principal subdivisions of that caste..... and in February 1890 a monster purification ceremony was performed. Since then the Duliyas have taken to calling themselves Kalitas, but their claims are recognized by no one except themselves...The Duliya Kalitas in Panbari have dropped the appellation 'Duliya' and describe themselves simply as Kalita,'"(Cantile 1980:21)
  23. ^ "They (Duliya) have severed all association with the Jugis or Naths and describe themselves as Kalita. The rest of the village usually refer to them as Duliya Kalita and to the other Kalitas in the village as Kalita or Great Kalita.The Duliya Kalita case is typical of the many recorded instances of successful caste mobility throughout India."(Cantile 1980:223)
  24. ^ "The independent economic organisation of the specialist castes, however, who usually live apart in their own villages, has contributed to a high degree of upward mobility. Many now claim to be Kalita, which is the highest of the Shudra castes: e.g. Kumar Kalita (Potters), Kamar Kalita (Blacksmiths), Sonari Kalita (Goldsmiths), Nat Kalita (Dancers), Duliya Kalita (Palki-bearers), Katani Kalita (Silk-rearers), etc"(Cantile 1980:17)
  25. ^ "From the earliest Census reports two features of the Kalita caste were noted. Firstly, that the caste occupies an undisputed rank as the highest of the Shudra castes native to the Assam Valley, and secondly, that a number of artisan castes attach the term Kalita to their names, although they are not permitted to eat or marry with the agriculturalists."(Cantile 1980:233)
  26. ^ "Alternatively they may derive from lower caste artisans, who styled themselves Kalita, and most of the Census Commissioners are of opinion that this was true at any rate of some members of the sub-castes."(Cantile 1980:235)
  27. ^ Sharma, Jayeeta (August 2011). Empire's Garden: Assam and the Making of India. Duke University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-8223-5049-1. Archived from the original on 1 July 2023. Retrieved 4 September 2020.


Printed sources


  1. ^ Kangkan Kalita (6 October 2020). "Study traces Kalitas to Himachal in 4122 BC" Archived 8 October 2021 at the Wayback Machine The Times of India.
  2. ^ "Centre supports Assam government's proposal to grant ST status to six communities: Ramdas Athawale". The New Indian Express. Press Trust of India. 8 October 2017. Archived from the original on 8 October 2021. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  3. ^ a b "After six indigenous communities now Kalita community demands ST status, 50% reservations in jobs". Prag News. 23 December 2019. Archived from the original on 26 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  4. ^ "All Kalita Students' Union (AKSU) to fight poll | Assam Assembly election in 2021". The Sentinel. Assam. 2 July 2020. Archived from the original on 10 July 2021. Retrieved 4 September 2020.