Megalithic tradition associated with agricultural ritual

A study of the Chongkhong Phuja among the Hill Tiwas of Umswai Valley in Assam, India


  • Raktim Patar Gargaon College, Department of History, Simaluguri, Assam, India
  • Manjil Hazarika Cotton University, Department of Archaeology, Guwahati, Assam, India



megaliths, living tradition, oral tradition, menhirs, animal sacrifice, jhum cultivation


The Tiwa community is one of the autochthonous communities of Northeast India. An important aspect of Tiwa culture is the erection of stone monuments during the celebration of Chongkhong Phuja. This ceremony is performed before the commencement of their yearly agricultural cycle which falls in late April and continues to early May. On this occasion, a menhir and table stone are erected by the head priest of the Tiwa village, who then invokes their village guardian deity to call for a better harvest as well as for the wellbeing of the villagers. This elaborate ceremony marks the beginning of the agricultural season for the year, following which the villagers commence their agricultural activities. This paper deals with the performance of Chongkhong Phuja and the associated living megalithic tradition among the Hill Tiwas residing in the Umswai Valley. It also documents the oral traditions associated with the origin of the megalithic tradition in the community. As most of the living megalithic traditions among the ethnic communities of Northeast India are either related to burial practices or commemorating the death of a person or an event, this Chongkhong Phuja represents a unique example of a megalithic tradition related to agricultural practice. Indirect evidence suggests the megalithic structures present at the ceremonial place of the Chongkhong Phuja in the Amsai village of the Umswai Valley have been continuously erected for the last thousand years. The paper also hypothesizes the shifting cultivation in the area to be as old as the practice of the megalithic tradition.


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How to Cite

Patar, R., & Hazarika, M. (2023). Megalithic tradition associated with agricultural ritual: A study of the Chongkhong Phuja among the Hill Tiwas of Umswai Valley in Assam, India. Documenta Praehistorica, 50, 2–17.