One of the most interesting tribes of this world is The TOTO who reside in the Dooars area of West Bengal, India â€“ not so far from our country Bangladesh. The toto is designated as one of the six underdeveloped tribes of west Bengal. Mongoloid tribal communities namely, Toto, Mech, Rava, Lepchas, Bhutia etc., are found in the Sub-Himalayan region of West Bengal, of which Toto: a small tribal group is found only in Totopara of Madarihaat police station of Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal.
The totos are perhaps the the only tribes which have least population of their own in this world and thus they got the reserved status as their community is in danger . In 1901 census their population was only 171 among which 72 were male & 99 were female.Thank God, Their population is gradually increasing. According to 1985 census their population was reached to 785 .
Their houses are made of bamboo split walls with bamboo platform.In front of their room there is an open projected space of Bamboo platform known as â€œ Duiâ€. Their hut is known as â€œSha or Nakosaâ€.Tthe houses are built on wooden or bamboo posts about 5-6 feet above the ground.They have only one room in the hut whose length is about 12-15 feet & breadth is about 8-10 feet.The room is devided into 3 parts :
1. SIRI- used for sleeping purpose of family members
2. DAICHIKO-SIRI- they use this portion for guestsâ€™ sleeping purpose
3. CHIMA or ZIRI-the place for ancestral deities.
Toto believes that their God Oda and Pisu live in CHIMA where they keep the pitcher or â€œ Euâ€ ,( home made liquor ) , drinking materials of Eu and a wooden stool as a symbol of their God. The outsiders are not entitled to enter into the ZIRI.There are a separate cooking place , merring , in SIRI and DAICHIKO-SIRI.
A Toto family is usually small, patrilocal and descent is traced from male line.Usually the composition of a toto family is husband, wife and their unmarried children. Most of the families are of monogamous type.The Totos are an endogamous group having 13 exogamous clan or SARKHEA.The clans are BAUDHBEI, BADUBEI,LINKAJIBEI, NURUNCHANGOBEI, DHIRENCHANGOBEI, NUBEBEI, BANGOBEI,DANTROBEI,MANTROBEI,DANKOBEI,MANKOBEI,MANCHINGBEI & PISENCHANGOBEI.
1. Marriage: The first & foremost criteria of a marital alliance is clan exogamy.Now child marriage is absent. Monogamy is the rule but in practice some of them keep more than one wife. Senior sororate is not allowed but polygyny and junior levirate are permitted. As per rule the marriage ritual among the Toto is devided into two types whichdepends on the economic condition of the party. The ore prestigious and respectable one is â€œ DEBO BEHAO â€ or â€œ BARO BEHAO â€œin which the whole village is to be fed with sacrifices of atleast three cows and it is of luxurious type. The other is â€œ JIPEBA BEHAOâ€ or â€œ CHHOOTO BEHAO â€œ in which two cows or two pigs are sacrificed .
2. Death: They bury the dead bodies in their respective clan ossuary which is located towards east of the village. A non Toto is not allowed to touch a dead body of a Toto. Before leaving house one areca-nut, betel and some coin ( paisa) re kept in the mouth of the corpse. In the death procession no female member is allowed but it is accompanied by clan members and neighbours. The body is then taken to burial ground with procession and during that time all the doors of the enroute house to the clan ossuary are closed due to fear of evil spirits.