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Life of Bangladesh Khasi People Improves along with Economic Development
    2008-10-28 18:00:57     Xinhua
By Huang Yanan

The Khasi tribe, which lives in India and Bangladesh, is known for its matrilineal culture in which women dominate a family. As the economy develops, the life of Khasi is improving.

There are more than one million Khasi people in India and around 30,000 in Bangladesh, mainly in northeastern Sylhet Division.

Before partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, Khasi people belonged to one country. After partition, majority of Khasi live in India, and the rest in Bangladesh.

In a Khasi village in Sylhet district, 264 km northeast of capital Dhaka, Baniweell Lamin, a rich Khasi villager of around 50 years of age, told Xinhua that Khasi culture has changed a lot in recent years as the locals are more and more mixed with the outside world.

"The tradition is still there, but not as before," he said.

According to the tradition, the groom has to live in the bride' s house after getting married, but now fewer men do so.

Lamin lives in his mother's house, not his wife's. He said if a man is rich and has his own business, he can choose to live wherever he wants.

Khasi people still preserve the tradition that women inherit their ancestor's property, such as land. Lamin's house is the property his mother inherited from her ancestor, and the house will go to Lamin's sisters after his mother dies.

Lamin's father was a big businessman. Lamin inherited most of the property his father earned. As a rule, the money and property one earn can either go to their sons or daughters as they wish.

Lamin has a big betel palm plantation. He makes a lot of profit from selling betel nut and leaves to the local market. Bangladeshi people like to chew betel nut and leaves.

Besides the plantation, Lamin is also doing stone-collecting business. During rainy season, the heavy rains rush the stones from the mountains in the neighboring India to the rivers in Bangladesh. The local people collect the stones from the river and sell to companies which do construction business.

The Bangladeshi Khasi people live in the areas bordering with India. Though the villages seem a bit isolated from the other places in Bangladesh, the people can enjoy electricity, cable television, mobile and even Internet.

Khasi people are quite educated. Rich Khasi people send their children to study in India or western countries.

Lamin's youngest daughter is only 7 years old. She is studying in the local school and can speak good English.

Khasi people has their own language which was invented by American missionary in the 19th century, But they are not using it now. In local schools, only Bengali and English are taught.

Khasi people used to be animist and worship nature like forest and stone. Some old stone sculptures still can be seen in Khasi areas. Now Khasi people are Christians. There is a church in every Khasi village.

There are more than 100 Khasi villages in Sylhet Division. The Khasi people mainly do farming, grow betel palm and do other business.

Lamin said like other Bangladeshis, Khasi men now look after business and women look after family affairs.

Khasi people peacefully co-exist with Bengalis and create their happy life through hard working.
 
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