A group of Meches, Undivided Goalpara district"; 1911
Total population
55,992 (2011 Census)
Regions with significant populations
India • Nepal
         West Bengal

   Nepal (Nepal)5,193[3]
Hinduism, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Boro, Koch, Dhimal, Rajbanshi

The Mech (spelled Meche in Nepal; pronounced /mes/ or /meʃ/) is an ethnic group belonging to the Bodo-Kachari group of peoples. It is one of the scheduled tribes of India, listed both in West Bengal and Assam, India.[1][2] They inhabit West Bengal, Nepal, Assam and Nagaland.[web 1]


It has been suggested that mech is probably a corruption of the Sanskrit word mlechchha.[4] Nevertheless, Stuart N. Wolfenden observed that some people do self-designate as Mech,[5] So, he reconstructed Mech from Tibeto-Burman root "mi" means "man".[6] Other authors have speculated that Meche is derived from the Mechi river because the Bodo-Kachari peoples in Nepal had settled around it;[7][8] Mecha a region of the Bod country; and descendants of Mechel a legendary figure of Nepal.[9]


The Bodo-Kachari peoples migrated into present-day India and gradually spread themselves throughout Assam, North Bengal and parts of East Bengal. It is said that during their migration to India, they marched towards different directions. One group went along the river Brahmaputra and established themselves in the whole of Assam up to Goalpara district as well as parts of Jalpaiguri district and Cooch Behar district under the name of Bodo or Boro. Another group went towards the West along the foot of the Himalayas up to the river Mechi, bordering India and Nepal and settled on the North bank of the river known as Mechi or Mechia. Later they spread to Darjeeling Terai, Baikanthpur in Jalpaiguri district again marched further East and settled in the Dooars. It is said that, a group of Mech people, again moved further East, crossed the Sankosh river, and went towards Goalpara in Assam. Due to repeated floods in Dooars and eastern bank of Teesta river, many families migrated towards Assam.[10]


The first record is found from the year 1205 A.D in Tabaqat-i Nasiri, where they are mentioned along with the Koch and Tharu and are found to inhabit between the country of Tibet and Lakhanawati (Gauda).[11][12] In Persian history, these three groups of people, the Koch, Mech and Tharu, possessed the physiognomy of the Turks and the Mongols and their speech was different from the rest of the subcontinent.[13] It is recorded that one Ali Mech, Mech chieftain, guided Bakhtiyar Khalji's army in his invasion of Tibet via Kamrup.[14][15] 16th/17th century's Yogini Tantra states that Kuvacas were born of a Mech woman.[11] According to Darrang Rajvamsavali of Koch kings and MS Chronicle collected by Buchanon Hamilton, Biswa Singha's father was a Mech and mother was a Koch.[16] 19th and 20th century's scholars state that designation Mech is name applied to western section of Bodos by others and also to some extent by the people themselves.[17]


Distribution of Mech or Bârâ people, as reported in the Language Survey of India 1903
Distribution of Mech or Bârâ people, as reported in the Language Survey of India 1903

Mechs are found in West Bengal and Assam in India, and in Nepal.

Demand of Mech-Kachari Autonomous Council

Presently, there are two types of Mech. One identify themselves with the Boro people[citation needed] and the other identify themselves separately as Mech-Kachari. The Mech-Kacharis want to preserve their language, culture and uplift their economic status; and so they have been demanding a Mech-Kachari autonomous council for some time.[web 2]

Mech people in Nepal

The Central Bureau of Statistics of Nepal classifies the Mech (called Meche in the Nepal census) as a subgroup within the broader social group of Terai Janajati.[18] At the time of the 2011 Nepal census, 4,867 people (0.0% of the population of Nepal) were Mech. The frequency of Mech people by province was as follows:

The frequency of Mech people was higher than national average (0.0%) in one district only:[19]

Notable people

Religion among Meches[1][2]
Religion Percent


  1. ^ a b c "ST-14 Scheduled Tribe Population By Religious Community - West Bengal". Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "ST-14 Scheduled Tribe Population By Religious Community - Assam". Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  3. ^ National Statistics Office (2021). National Population and Housing Census 2021, Caste/Ethnicity Report. Government of Nepal (Report).
  4. ^ (Barua 1964:3)The Bodos who live to the west of the present Kamrup district are called ‘Mec’ by their Hindu neighbours. This word is probably a corruption of the Sanskrit word ‘mleccha’.
  5. ^ "(Mech) is used not only by their neighbours but also to some extent by the people themselves." (Wolfenden 1935:145)
  6. ^ " As such tribal names are frequently simply words originally meaning "man", it is not unlikely that the term Mes may go back to this source. In such an event it may be expected to represent me-s, in which me is the same word as Tibetan and Meithei mi 'man', and -s is probably the same suffix as -si in Deori-Chutiya (Sibsagar) ma-si (Lakhimpur dialect mo-si) 'man'."(Wolfenden 1935:145)
  7. ^ "Saru Sanyal has writes that a section of the Boros in the course of their movement in Assam moved towards the west along the foothills of Himalayas up to the river Mech between India and Nepal and settled down along the bank of the river and were called Mech after the river." (Mosahary 1983:46)
  8. ^ "the Bodos, who migrated into India through Patkoi hills..." (Sanyal 1973:1)
  9. ^ (Mosahary 1983:46)
  10. ^ (Sanyal 1973:18–21)
  11. ^ a b (Nath 1989:3)
  12. ^ "The description of (Bakhtiyar Khalji's) disastrous campaign provides us with some information about the populations (Siraj 1881: 560-1):... Konch, sometimes written Koch, (the same hesitation occurs in Buchanan-Hamilton’s manuscripts), is what we today write as Koch. Mej or Meg is the name we write as Mech. We can safely conclude that these names described important groups of people in the 13th century, in the area between the Ganges and the Brahmaputra." (Jacquesson 2008:16–17)
  13. ^ "(W)e read in Persian history that these races [Koch, Mech, Taru] had Turki countenances (i.e slanting eyes, snub nose, high cheek-bones and yellow complexion of the Mongols), and they spoke a 'different idiom' from the language of India proper"(Chatterji 1951:101)
  14. ^ William John Gill; Henry Yule (9 September 2010). The River of Golden Sand: The Narrative of a Journey Through China and Eastern Tibet to Burmah. Cambridge University Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-108-01953-8.
  15. ^ (Nath 1989:9)
  16. ^ (Nath 1989:16, 17)
  17. ^ In former number of this journal the writer has proposed an explanation of the name Bara-fisa, and it now seems that - designation applied to western section of the same people is also capable of an interpretation going back to tibeto-burman original...(Mech) is used not only by their neighbours but also to some extent by the people themselves. (Wolfenden 1935:145)
  18. ^ Population Monograph of Nepal, Volume II [1]
  19. ^ 2011 Nepal Census, District Level Detail Report


Printed sources