It was actually “Monja Monsori.” The current village of Rajasimla was known by this name when it was the first Christian settlement to be established on Garo territory. The Bodo tribe (or Katchari tribe) is said to have been the first to live in this area. The man-eating tigers were still frequenting the village when they finally left and abandoned it. It seems, the place was left unoccupied and became a thick jungle.
Assam, Meghalaya, and Bangladesh are home to a people group known as the Bodo who speak Tibeto-Burman languages. The Brahmaputra River Valley’s northernmost regions are populated primarily by the Bodo, the largest minority group in Assam. Although they formerly engaged in shifting cultivation, the majority of them are now settled, farmers. There are numerous tribes among the Bodo. Their eastern tribes are the Dimasa (or Hill Kachr), Galong (or Gallong), Hojai, Lalung, Tippera, and Moran, while their western tribes are the Ctiy, Plains Kachr, Rbh, Gro, Mech, Koch, Dhiml, and Jaijong. Up until around 1825, the Bodo were the majority in Assam. In the late 20th century, it was estimated that there were about 2.2 million speakers of Bodo languages in India as a whole.
Naming as ‘Monja Monsori’
Bodos referred to the location as “Monja Monsori” in their native tongue. They gave it that name because it was said that a Garo woman who lived nearby hid her brass gong underwater in a deep pool out of fear that someone would steal it. But when she laboriously checked it again a few months later, she was shocked to discover that she could not locate it. As a result, the Boro people often say “Monja,” which is equivalent to the Garo “Manja” and means “Don’t get.” “Monsori” (Galor “Muni donga” equivalent) denotes the presence of a magic charm or spell. Because of this, “Monja Monsori” in Boro means “you won’t get anything if it’s hidden under this pool; there’s some magic char or spell.”1
“Ran Mari” was actually “Rowmari,” the name of a village close to “Monja Monsori” that was later renamed “Raj Simina” or “Raja Simina,” and eventually became known as “Rajasimla.” This location was on the ancient footpath that led to the Matchokgre Hills’ Watrepara and Dambora villages. Rev. and Mrs. Bronson traveled to Rajasimla with two elephants donated by Campbell, a former British deputy commissioner sent to Goalpara, specifically for the journey to open the first-ever Christian church to be built on Garo soil.
The border of the Bijni Kings’ kingdom was actually called “Raj Simina” or “Raja Simina.” Because the Bijni kings planted those “simul trees” or “silk-cotton trees,” Bombax malabaricum to mark their territory as their borders, this village later became known as “Raja Simula,” meaning “The King’s Simul Tree,” after the simul tree that stood there. This makes it clear that Bijni’s kingdom did not extend outside of this location to the hills. In the end, the village was given the name “RAJASIMLA” in the years following the founding of the Christian Church. Today, one of the sites contains a memorial made of a Simul tree stump.
- Rev. Dr. W. R. Marak, “What Bronson Has Got To Retell”, in Celebrating the Glory of God’s Grace for 150 Years, Garo Baptist Church Sesquicentenary Souvenir (Published by: Souvenir Committee, ABDK Sesquicentenary 2017, p30). This source was traced by Rev. Jaseng D. Marak, the present Pastor of Rajasimla Baptist Church and requested by Rev. Dr. W. R. Marak, the present Pastor of Tura Baptist Church, West Garo Hills, Meghalaya.
- Interview with Livingstone M. Sangma, Deacon of Rajasimla Baptist Church, 9 May 2013.