Jalia Kaibarta (or Jaliya Kaibartta, or: Jāliya Kaibbarta, possibly also: Jalia Kaibartya) is a community comprising people of low ritual status, fishermen, who later acquired respectable caste identities within the larger Hindu fold, helped by their commercial prosperity and Vaishnavite affiliations, through Sanskritisation. They are traditionally engaged in the occupation of fishing and originally belonged to Assam, West Bengal, Odisha and eastern Bihar along with Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan. The Kaibartas were initially considered a single tribe divided into two groups, Haliya and Jaliya Kaibarta, where the Haliya Kaibarta are considered to be superior than the latter. Jaliya Kaibartas are categorised as a Scheduled Caste are the second largest among the 16 SCs in Assam under the name Kaibarta/Jalia. Many of the Jalia Kaibarta under the influence of Garamur satradhikar gave up their traditional occupation of fishing and divided themselves into – mach mara and mach na-mara.
In Brahmavaivarta, a Kaibarta is said to be born to a Kshatriya father and a Vaishya mother, while other consider Kaibarta to be a Hinduised word of Kevatta which refer to a class of fishermens in the Buddhist Jatakas. They are also claimed to have their own priest.
^The census of 1901 interpreted the act of renaming as a ‘‘refusal of those at the bottom of the social scale to acquiesce in the humble positions assigned to them.’’. For Assam’s Dom fisher caste, previously at the lowest end of the ritual hierarchy, this refusal took the form of claims to Aryanist belonging through the new names of Nadiyal and Kaibarta. In colonial Assam the upper echelons of Dom society succeeded for the most part in acquiring new, respectable caste identities within the larger Hindu fold, helped by commercial prosperity and Vaishnavite affliations. Sharma, Jayeeta. Empire's Garden: Assam and the Making of India(PDF). Duke University Press. p. 214.
^"In Lower Assam the Keots are divided into two main endogamous groups, halova and jalova Keots, or agriculturalists and fishermen, the former being held superior than the latter"(Cantile 1980:235)