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Biate (ISO-639-3 code: biu)

Biate language is spoken by Biate community as their mother tongue in the Saipung Area, East Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya. Geographical distribution area of the community is Area, East Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya & Dima Hasao District, Assam. According to 2011 census, Biate population is 8994.

Most of the Biate community people are bilinguals. They speak and use Biate language for intra-group communication in their houses as their mother tongue; on the other hand they speak Jaintia (Pnar) for inter-group communication for the purpose of other activities outside the house. In the education they use and study in Biate & English, it is helpful for language maintenance. Their contact languages are Jaintia (Pnar) & localized Hindi. Language developmental activities are initiated and conducted by Individuals & Church. Their language attitude towards Biate is ‘Positive’.

Their settlements and housing system of the whole settlement is ‘Homogeneous’. The direction and position of each (house) hut-front faces towards road & significance of the gesture is ‘welcoming and hospitality’. They use ‘one room’ house, different portion of the room is set for different purposes as unique spatial arrangement of housing structure. Significantly they have internal and external arrangement of the house. They use bamboo, cane, thatch, wood, etc. as house hold materials. They have storage system - bamboo barn is used for ‘grains’ & bamboo tubes are used for ‘liquid’.

Their main traditional occupation of Biate community is shifting cultivation & also cattle rearing, hunting and gathering, honey collecting, bird trapping, agriculture etc are in practice. Indigenous knowledge system reflects in the occupation like group hunting, fishing and bird trapping and also traditional traps, firearms, spear, fishing net and hooks, and herbal plants (poisonous) used during community fishing, these implements will be produced by the individuals. The strategy for hunting and collecting honey is as individual and in groups.

They have native kinship terms and patterns are still in practice, also use endearment terms. They have Basic color terms along with some derived color terms. The investigator didn’t find any color terms significance related to culture. They have their own attire & adornment practices and also no tattoo practices followed. They practice and celebrate life cycle related birth, marriage, and death ceremonies. The whole village takes part as witnesses along with the family members.

They have their Indigenous religion and believe of rebirth of a good person or child, that they may reborn again in the same family. They offer fowls, pigs, eggs as sacrifices offering to the God. The practice of ethnic medicinal healing patterns of preparation (grinding, boiling, and cooking) of the medicine for diarrhea, skin problems, rheumatism, high pressure, muscle pain etc and administration of the medicine by consuming, applying and bathing, no specific person is necessary for the preparation. They do child birth delivery practice by themselves, a woman who is good in assisting while giving birth called –Nai in nei ngai.

They have native measurements system, terms and equipments for grains, liquid, and area. The measuring scales are basket, local weighing scale, bottle, stick or bamboo.

They have their native games for playing and songs, dance forms, musical instruments for entertainment.


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