| Racial composition
In their racial composition, the inhabitants of West Bengal present
a prolific inter mixture of five separate racial strains. The oldest stratum
of the population is Proto-Australian in origin. The element called Nishadic
is found preponderantly among the tribals in the plateau fringe and beyond
into Chhotanagpur and central India. They are long headed, dark skinned,
broad-nosed and short in stature. Variously labeled as Negritos and Negroids,
their physical features are evident among the lowest castes of Bengal,
mainly the peasants.
The next wave of immigration was by a long-headed
race with a taller structure, sharp nose and prominent chin, known as
Dravidians. This race is believed to have come from the northern Mediterranean
littoral, shortly in their wake came the round headed Sumerians, also
called Armenoids, from western area, via, Persia.
next considerable racial element to come into the western part of Bengal
is the round headed Alpine or Indo-Aryan race with its fair skin, oval
face, prominent nose and long body. The fifth racial strain, the Mongoloid
is represented in the population of the Darjeeling district of northern
West Bengal, which is of the Tibetan type. Undoubtedly Mongoloid features
show unimistakable traces among Hindu as well as Muslim rural people of
north Bengal districts the Koches and Rajbanis of the Dooars plains shows
additional traces of mixture with the eastern Mongoloids of the Burmese
The five main racial strains are inextricably intermixed,
and it is practically impossible to find a pure racial type in the population.
On the whole it may be said that the main elements of the Bengali race
are the long headed matrilineal Mediterranean type which brings our
Dravidian affinity and the round headed Mediterranean type who associates
with the people of upper India. As regards the so-called lower castes
of the state, these elements are of much lesser importance. The predominant
element here being the proto-Australoid in varying proportions.