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By Seino van Breugel

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This incantation is presented as Text 4. I was not able to find any source that relates to the spiritual life of the Atong speaking population in pre-Christian times. To get an idea of what pre-Christian spiritual life in a Garo village must have been, I refer the reader to Burling (1963: 54 ff), who describes it in much detail. The wedding and funeral ceremonies I witnessed were conducted much like in Western countries, and were presided over by members of the Christian church. Funeral ceremonies retain a very pleasant aspect of the old days: after the death of the person, a wake is held at the house of the family of the deceased which lasts two days and one night, during which people come and go.

As a result, in most villages Atong and Garo people live side by side. In some villages that are said to have been Atong speaking in the past, the presence of Garo speakers has led to the complete disappearance of the Atong language from the village. It is impossible for me to say whether the number of Atong speakers is on the rise or not at the moment. Until 2006 Atong was an unwritten language. When I arrived in the area, the people even thought that their language could not be written. Luckily, they were wrong.

6 Contact with others The Atong people are a very mobile lot. People frequently travel for miles on foot or by motorised transport to visit friends, relatives or to go to the market or to school, or to play sport competitions in other villages etc. This means that people from different places are in frequent contact with each other and news travels fast. There are a few bus services that connect Bari and Siju, as well as the other villages along the main road, to Williamnagar, headquarters of the East Garo Hills district, Baghmara, headquarters of the South Garo Hills district, and Tura, the headquarters of the West Garo Hills district.

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A Grammar of Atong by Seino van Breugel

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