Dimasa people

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Dimasa People
Regions with significant populations
Languages
Grao-Dima, Hindi, Assamese and English
Religion
Om.svg Hinduism

The Dimasa people (or Dima-basa, and also called Dimasa-Kachari ) are a group of people in Assam, in Northeastern India. Dimasa mythology says that they are the children of Bangla Raja(Earthquake God) and the great divine bird Arikhidima. Bangla Raja's six sons— Sibrai, Doo Raja, Naikhu Raja, Waa Raja, Guyung Brai Yung, and Hamyadao and Arikhidima are their ancestors, and in Dimasa belief, are ancestral Gods. They are called Madai in Dimasa. Evil spirits born of the seventh egg of Arikhidima are responsible for disease, suffering and natural calamities.

Ancient Dimasa tradition maintains that sixty thousand ( 60,000 ) Moon months (Lunar months) ago, they left their ancestral land when it suffered a severe drought. After a long wandering, they settled at Di-laobra Sangibra, the confluence of the Brahmaputra and Sangi or Di-tsang. There they held a great assembly. The place is in the present West Bengal area where the River Ganga and the Brahmaputra join, and where the Kacharis established their first Seat. Over time, their kingdom over large territories.

The Dimasa[edit]

The Dimasa are one of the oldest inhabitants of the North Eastern part of India and is one of the many Kachari tribes. They live mostly in the northern half of the Dima Hasao District, an administrative district of the Indian state of Assam that includes the ravines of the Jatinga valley and Lower portion of Karbi Anglong district (East), Lower Crescent Region of Nagaon district, Cachar district of Assam and Dimapur and Jiribum region of Nagaland and manipur respectively. The name 'Dimasa' stands for "children of the big river," referring to Brahmaputra river(known as Dilao in Dimasa). Kacharis appear to be one of the earliest indigenous ethnic groups of north eastern India. Most independent tribal communities in this region are of Kachari origin. The Boro, Rabha, Sonowal, Thengal, Dimasa, Garo, Hajong, Deori, Sutiya, Tiwa or Lalung, Trippra, Mech, Rukkini Barman of Hailakandi and Karimganj etc. are all of Kachari origin.

Distribution[edit]

Dimasa Kachari are mainly found in the present-day Dima Hasao District (Old name "North Cachar Hills" or "N. C. Hills") of Assam. They also have a sizable population in Cachar, Karbi Anglong, Nowgong and Karimganj Districts of the Assam State and also Dimapur and jiribum region of Nagaland and Manipur state respectively. In Cachar,following the formal conversion of their king Krishna Chandra Hasnusa to Hinduism general Dimasa have largely adopted Hinduism. These new converts to Hinduism are called Barman of Cachar. On the other hand in Nowgong District the Dimasa have come under the influence of Assamese Vishnavism,and there they are called Hojai Kachari (Hojai is also a name of a Dimasa male clan. This term is also stands for the priest). In Dima Hasao district, a section of the Dimasa called Semsas is confined within the historical village named Semkhor,they eventually developed a distinct dialect. Similar minor distinction exists within the Dimasa based on the region they inhabit like Hawarsa, Dembrasa, Hamrisa, Dijuwasa and Hasaosa and Walgongsa.

History of Dimasa- Kacharis"[edit]

Baroduwar Dimasa Kachari Palace, Khaspur in Cachar dist
Architectural stones inscription of Dimasa King Naranarayan Hasnusa at Maibang

A History of Kachari Kingdom is nothing but the History of Dimasa Kachari Kingdom. Kachari being one of the indigenous tribe of India's North-East, their history is quite old. In the Mahabharata and other ancient Hindu scriptures there are mention about the foothill dwellers of the Great Himalayas called ‘Kiratas’. The term Kirata stands for Mongoloid racial communities, but some historian believed that it indicates Kachari.

The earliest Kachari settlements were in the foothills of the Himalayas.From there they moved to the Brahmaputra valley with their Capital at Khamru>Kamruli or Khamruba>Kamrupa (Khamruba means start first to establish the place). Sir Edward Gait in his History of Assam,1906 is of the opinion that the Kachari were the aborigines or earliest inhabitants of the Brahmaputra valley.After hundreds of years of rule in the Brahmaputra valley,a bulk of this race due to socio-political turmoil,were believed to have migrated south of the Brahmaputra and settled in the areas of the present Sadiya of Assam after crossing the mighty river by planning of cane bridge, probably the Brahmaputra. This section is now known as 'Dimasa' etymologically 'the children of the great river' (Di = water, ma = big, sa = children) (see Bordoloi 1988, Gait 1906).

Facing Ahom aggression, they further migrated toward south, on to the Dongsiri>Dhansiri valley and established their capital at Dimapur presently in the state of Nagaland after a short stint at Kachomari pathar about forty kilometers from Dimapur. It was here that the Dimasa Kachari undertook an arduous task of state building and flourished for several hundred years till 1536 when they shifted their capital to Maibang at the present day district of Dima Hasao District (Old name "North Cachar Hills") of Assam. Historical relics of Dimasa Kachari royaldome still exist in and around Dimapur, particularly in the Dimapur fort called Kachari Rajbari in spite of the constant ravages of human encroachment, show that the Kachari at that period had attained a state of the result of bricks making. Among the large tanks Podum Pukhuri, Bangle Pukhuri, Bamun Pukhuri, Raj Pukhuri, Jor Pukhuri and others still survive to this day. It is said in one folklore that during the fight with Ahom, The Dimasa Kachari King had dumped gold and other precious metals in some of these tanks and believed to have told his subject that long after he left, a day would come when a male Mithun would come from the hills and dig up this gold by its horn, which would weigh mound (about 240 kg) and that would be the time when Dimasa Kachari rise again and prosper.

The Dimapur reign of the seven hundred years (i.e. 835 A.D to 1854 A.D.) extended along the southern bank of the Brahmaputra, from the Dikhow river in the east to Kalang in the west and Dhansiri valley. Historian are not in the position to tell the exact date of establishment of the Dimasa Kachari capital of Dimapur. They presumed that the capital of Dimapur was established in the 10th century. Dimapur was said to be flourishing at its full heights. For, it must have taken at least seven hundred years for the King to build his state.

The glorious Rule of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom at Dimapur capital from intime memorial from the epic age, but it began with the advent of the Ahoms in the upper Brahmaputra by the close of the fifteenth century. The expansionist behavior of the Ahom lead to constant hostilities between the two. Thus in the year 1490 the major battle was in which the Ahoms were completely routed and their Chief Chuhenpha was humiliated and forced to sue for peace. However peace did not last for long as the Ahoms intruded into the Dimasa Kachari territory and set up a fort at Morangi (near the present Jorhat) and thus the battle ensued in 1526 AD and the Ahoms were again totally defeated and pushed back beyond the Dikhow river, which became the natural boundary between the two principalities for some years. Meanwhile when the Ahoms kept on consolidating their army, the Dimasa Kachari, emboldened by previous successes, became complacent and neglected the security affairs of their country. Taking advantage of this, the Ahoms forgot their numerous humiliating defeat in the past and again broke their peace treaty with the Dimasa Kachari and set up a fort at Morangi and thus another battle ensued and the Dimasa Kachari were finally defeated due to superior number of army. A Dimasa Kachari folk tale says that the Ahom army rode on cows during this battle, which shocked the Kachari army, since killing cows would be a defilement. The Dimasa Kacharis of that period, considered cows ‘gushu’ (impure). Only later, after they embraced Brahmanical Hinduism, did they believe cows sacred. After defeating the Kacharis monarch Khunkradao Raja, the Ahoms installed Dehtsung, the kings brother, as Dimapur King on condition of allegiance to the Ahoms ruler. However, within a few years the Dimasa Kachari king revolted and refused to pay tribute to the Ahom ruler and thus another battle became inevitable and in 1536 another fierce battle was fought. The Dimasa Kachari King was defeated. The survivors of the ruling clan along with loyal subjects thereafter shifted their capital to Maibang.

From Dimapur, the royal family of Kachari in their last lag of migration moved to Khaspur of Kachar district of Assam. The Dimasa Kachari Kingdom finally annexed by the British East India company along with Assam following Yandabu Treaty.

Dimasa Kachari Kings or Rulers[edit]

  • Dimapur caiptal reign:

• Virochana (835 - 885), • Vorahi (885 - 925), • Prasanto alias Prasadao (Chakradwaj alias Khamaoto)(925 - 1010), • Uditya (1010 - 1040), • Prabhakar (1040 - 1070), • Korpoordhwaj (1070 - 1100), • Giridhar (1100 - 1125), •Beeradhwaj (1125 - 1155), • Surajit (1155 - 1180), • Ohak (1180 - 1210), • Makardhwaj Narayan (Rana Pratap alias Raogena) (1210 - 1286), • Bhopal (1286 - 1316), • Purandar (1316 - 1336), • Bicharpatipha alias Prakash (1336 - 1386), • Vikramadityapha alias Vikaranto (1386 - 1411), • Mahamanipha alias Prabal (1411 - 1436), • Manipha (1436 - 1461), • Ladapha (1461 - 1486), • Khunkhora alias Khorapha (1486 - 1511), • Det tsang alias Dersongpha (1511 - 1536),

  • Maibang capital reign:

• Nirbhay Narayan (1540-1550), • Durlabh Narayan or Harmesvar (1550-1576), • Megha Narayana (1576–1583), •Satrrudaman (Pratap Narayan, Jasa Narayan) (1583–1613), • Nar Narayan (1613-1625), • Bhimdarpa Narayan Bhimbal Konwar (1625-1637), • Indraballabh Narayan (1637-1655), • Birdarpa Narayan (1655-1681), • Garurdhwaj Narayan (1681-1686), • Makardhwaj (1686-1692), • Udayaditya (1692-1699), • Tamradhwaj Narayan (1699–1708), • Queen Chandraprabha (1708-1710), • Suradarpa Narayan (1710-1730), • Dharmadhwaj Narayan (Harischandra Narayan) (1730-1735), • Kirichandra Narayan (1735–1745), • Gopichandra Narayan (1745–1757),

  • Khaspur capital reign

• Harischandra II (1757–1772), • Krishnachandra Narayan Hasnusa (1772–1813), • Gobindchandra Narayan (1813–1830 till of 14 August), • Tularam Senapaty(Thaosen)(Died on 1850 of 12 October).

Dimapur-the seat of ancient Dimasa-Kachari Civilization[edit]

Situated on the banks of the river Dhansiri,Dimapur, often described as the ‘Brick City’ by European scholars and also by the Ahom, was the ancient capital of a ruling nation, the Dimasa Kachari, who were once a powerful and predominant race in the Entire North-East India region.There are two versions of how Dimapur got its name. Many writers are of the opinion that the name’ Dimapur’ was derived from Dimasa Kachari words Di-meaning "water," Ma-meaning big and Pur-meaning "city" or "township" in Dimasa-Kachari dialogue. While other believe that Dimapur is a corruption of Hidimbapur (Hirimbapur), meaning the city of Hidimba of Mahabharata fame whose wedlock with Pandava prince Bhima gave birth to Ghotokacha, who is believed to be the progenitor of the Kachari. Later Hidimbapur devolved to Dimbapur and then finally to Dimapur. In some Dimasa Kachari folklores Dimapur is often referred as Dimabang Halali, which implies that Dimapur was originally known by that name but was Sanskritized later by the Brahmin. In Ahom Chronicles Dimapur has been described as ‘Che-din-chi-pen’ (town-earth-burn-make) meaning ‘brick town’ or ‘Che-Dima’ meaning town of Dimasa

The seat of capital of Dimapur Kingdom was originally surrounded by bricks walls of four feet wide, sixteen feet high with outer ditch running alongside the walls of sixteen feet width and twelve feet in depth except on the southern side where the river Dhansiri served as the natural ditch. On the eastern side there was a fine solid gateway with brick masonry of pointed double arcs. The gate was secured by double heavy doors hinged in pierced upright setting of solid stone blocks. At both ends of the bannttlement there were turrets of half quadrant shape and in between the arc-way and the turrets were niche resembling ornamental windows. On both sides above the arc there were symbolic works of sun flower. There were originally inset by bright brass coating and could be seen dazzling from the great distance.

Inside the fortified city, there were seventeen artistic stone pillars. These stone monuments were decorated with carvings of foliage, flowers, familiar animals and birds but nowhere any human images of gods and goddesses were seen. These implied that the Dimasa Kachari were free of Hindu influence at that time. These monoliths are believed to be lineal monuments of the ruling kings of Dimapur. The biggest of them was seventeen feet high and twenty four feet in circumference and was said to be memorial of the greatest Dimasa Kachari ruler Makardhwaj Thaosen in whose time the traditional glory of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom rose to its climax and during whose time the conquests were made of Manipur and Burma by Hero Dehmalu Kemprai, the greatest war lord of the Dimasa Kachari. Also during this period, heroes like Rangadao Daolaguphu (Who was given the southern part of Dimapur, Ranga Pathar or Rangapahar after his name is still remaind), Dehgadao Daolaguphu and mystic heroines like Waibangma,Waringma Theremju flourished in war affairs and mysticism. Other V-shape stone monuments seventeen in numbers indicated seventeen royal clans of the ‘Kachari Aristocracy’ a term used by Dr. Francis Hamilton, a renowned scholar of the Kachari Royal Clan.

Shri S.K. Barpujari in his book ‘History of the Dimasa’ and some writers opined that the Dimasa Kachari Kings to commemorated their Victory over other tribesman, erected moonlights of different shapes indicating the different traditions of the vanquished tribes. This tradition of carving victory memorial is in vogue hill tribes and it is possible that the Dimasa Kachari kings might have followed the tradition of these tribes hand it is possible that the Dimasa Kachari kings might have followed the tradition of this tribes for administrative interest. Dr H. Bareh in the ‘Gazetteer of India’ writes that the oblong V-Shaped stone pillars closely correspond to the similarly V-Shaped post protruding from the roof of the house of wealthy Angami.

The tallest and largest megalith, which lies isolated from others and has a unique Sultanate style, is believed to have been erected by the founder king of Dimapur, who after vanquishing the tribes all around made his triumpant tower to commemorate his victory and this became a tradition setter. In and around this old city, large number of tanks over fifty in number existed, although most of them have since either dried up or have been destroyed by reckless human encroachment without an iota of respect for the history. These tanks were believed to be either dug by the kings for providing water supply to their people or might have resulted due to brick making, as pieces of old bricks could still be found in and around these tanks and, as has been mentioned earlier, Dimapur was known for use of bricks. Most of large tanks are rectangular and have a hardwood seasoned poles planted deep at the centre of the tanks, which have lasted for hundreds of years. Others are of irregular shapes without any such wooden poles. Inference in that, the former ones might have been dug by the Dimasa kings for water supply and the later were habitation as Di-gojo> Dijuwa meaning cut off from main river or stream’ and this tradition is still in vogue, and this area covers Dimapur and Dimasa Kachari inhabited areas of Karbi Anglong District of Assam in the Dhansiri valley. The present Dimapur is the commercial capital of Nagaland and is one of the fastest growing townships in the entire North-east region. But irony is, in the name of the modernity and development, this ancient city of Dimapur, whose historical relics finds a place in the World. Heritage is being gradually destroyed of its rich history by reckless human greed, and total destruction of its rich heritage is only a question of time.

Religion[edit]

Religion among Assamese Dimasa[1]
Religion Percent
Hinduism
  
98.54%
Others
  
1.46%

According to the 2001 Census of India, more than 98% of all Dimasa living in Assam are Hindu.[2] Religion: Spiritual - In a Dimasa society, it is believed spiritual life, Spirit is a soul. Dimasa believe traditionally the rebirth of soul after death. Religion: Dimasa believe that they are the children of Bangla Raja and the great divine bird Aarikhidima. The six sons namely- Sibrai, Doo Raja, Naikhu Raja, Waa Raja, Gunyung Brai Yung, Hamyadao born to Bangla Raja and Arikhidima are their ancestors and the Dimasa consider them to be their ancestral gods. They are called Madai in Dimasa. The evil spirits born out of the seventh eggs of Arikhidima are responsible for the diseases, sufferings and natural calamities. Many Dimasa consider themselves to be Hindus although they have their traditional gods and goddesses. Among the six ancestral gods, Sibrai being the oldest is the most important and even worship his name is to be uttered first. Sibrai is equated with Hindu Siva and Ranchandi with Parbati or Kali. The Diamsa also believe that Matengma, Hirimdi and Kamakhya are other names of Ranchandi. The whole Dimasa kingdom in bygone days was divided into twelve religious areas called Daikho. There are twelve priests for twelve Daikhos. The priest of a Daikho is called Zonthai is all in all. His authority is undisputed and above Zonthai is called Zonthaima. Dain-yah is for sacrificed animal. Hojai is performing the puja over the twelve Zonthais of twelve Daikhos, there is a principal priest or chief priest called Gisiya. The selected person will get the Zonthaiship only when Gisiya offers him holy water called Dithar (Di-gathar). The Dimasa concept of heaven and hell is also very faint. according to their belief Firinghi is heaven, Damra is the land for the dead where the dead persons retain their original form. Manner is a human virtue inherent in man’s character, also and passed from father to son and mother to daughter.

Society[edit]

In Dimasa, the village system is called Nohlai meaning a cluster of houses and the whole village with its population is called Raji. Dimasa tend to live on river banks and next to streams. Therefore, Dimasa Kachari villages are on hills, with thirty to fifty, though sometimes (rarely) as many as four hundred houses. The houses are built in two facing rows. The houses, with a timber superstructure, mud-plastered bamboo walls, and thatched roof are called Noh-Dima. Each families in a village has a few fruit trees—like Guava, mango, Jack fruit, plaintain and others.

The traditional village headman, who is at the top of the village administration, is a Khunang. He has both executive and judiciary powers. He is assisted by another official called the Dillik (Assistant Headman). Next to him is Daulathu who occupies the third place. Next to the Daulathu is the Haphaisgao, who holds office for two years. Other village officials include Phrai, Montri, Hangsbukhu, and Jalairao.

Dimasa houses use a floor plan called Noh-Dima that partitions the structure into a drawing room, sleeping room, kitchen room, and granary. A place for pounding rice is called Thengkhikho in Dimasa. Santho-rimin is another kind of pounding rice tool. Dimasa use a household article like to keep water used the bamboo and for cooking use silver utensil,spoon made of wood and Dish made of wood and banana leaf and other, a house for latrin, bath room and others also. The village, earlier in Dimasa society, there is grouping system of houses which is called punji which consisted of one a place around. Nohdrang named in Dimasa called club is placed in the middle or centre in the village or punji. The road communication is connect from the village to centre i.e. market, shop, town and another place. In the socio-economic life of the Dimasa, the role played by livestock is of great significance. Domesticated animals and birds are not only required during the celebration of socio-religion festivals and performance of rituals but required for Domestic consumption and sometimes for commercial purposes also. The Dimasa Kachari rears Buffalo,Pigs, Fowls, Goats, Ducks, Cows and others. Many stone monoliths are lying scattered at Kachomari pathar on the Daiyang river in Golaghat district Assam, bears the triumphant victory in the battles many times by Dimasa King from the 13th century. The remains of the palatial buildings, the traditional capital gateway and the decorative art of architecture, geometric and floral ornamentation found in these relics are marvelous. The sculptural design of animals and birds on the pillars at Dimapur by Raja Makardwaj Thousen in the tenth century show clearly the state of cultural development of the Dimasa Kachari. Many erected ramparts, temples were not seen at capital complex Dimapur due to the destruction by Ahom period in 1536. Stone house was erected at Maibang by Raja Harish Chandra Hasnusa in the 16th century. Stone inscription was installed at capital gate of Maibang by Raja Meghanarayan Hasnusa and statue of Horse is a worthable. Numerous temples of Garhere vitor, Khaspur and Singhadowar of Khaspur both palaces of Queen Indraprava Devi were erected by Dimaraja in the 18th century bear the cultural of that time.

Custom[edit]

As Dimasa Kachari have both male clan and female clans their law inheritance is somewhat peculiar in nature. The Dimasa have a patriarchal society. But in spite of that they have three types of property namely paternal property, maternal property and common property. The paternal property consists of real estates, weapons, cash money and the cattle. The maternal or mothers property consists of jewellery, clothes and looms with their accessories used by the mother. The common property consists of the cooking utensil, brass-metal dishes and bowls and other household equipment. According to the customary law of inheritance of the Dimasa, while the paternal property is inherited by the sons, the maternal property is inherited by the daughters and common property is shared by the sons and daughters equally.

Economy[edit]

Agricultural is the principal occupation and main source of livelihood of the Diamsa Kacharis. Dimasa were compelled to adopt shifting cultivation, commonly known as jhum, in hilly areas. Tracts of plains land suitable for permanent cultivation lying here and there between the ridges are very few. The Dimasa mainly cultivate maize, sesame, cotton and others. Many Dimasa families cultivate pineapples, oranges, cotton and mustars to a limited extent. In the jhum site itself a house to store the harvested paddy is erected and this house is called Mandu. Biba’s meaning is to be applied to a boys and girls to carry the paddy to his own house from the keeping Mandu.

Festivals[edit]

BISHU is an important festival celebrated by Dimasa with the celebration of great pomp and splenduor among the Dimasa. Bishu is celebrated after completion of harvest. Bishu, the word gives the meaning such as Brai-Sibrai is a supreme God in Dimasa society. So, in this way, the entire harvesting new paddy is offered first to the Brai sibrai madai for peace of the human kind is called Bishu. It means ‘Bi’ means pray and ‘Shu’ means asking the peace in the world. Phangsla, an artistically designed gate, is erected at the village entrance for the Bishu festival.Bishu has a three kind namely Surem Bishu observe for three or five days, Hangseu manaoba Bishu is observed for seven days and Jidab Bishu is for only one day. Gajaibao is selected as a head of the festival. He is in charge of the festival. Meats of animals and birds killed are consumed in a communal feast on the very day. Bishu is followed by singing accompanied by the rhythm of Kharams (drums), Muri, the wooden buggle continues first to third days without stop. Man and woman, Boys and Girls and others with their traditional dress spends whole night by dancing in the festival. In the afternoon local games like long jump, high jump, stone throw is organised in front of Nodrang in last day. Bishu garba is conducted by the Khunang with elders. Any chief guest, invited guest has to be welcome by playing the Muri and Kharam in any occasion in Dimasa society.

Among the festivals of the Dimasa, Bishu is the most joyous and important community festival. The festival is usually celebrated in the month of January, when all sort or works of the jhum are completed. Thus the Bishu is an occasion for relaxation from hard toils. It can, therefore be termed as harvesting festival or a festival of rejoicing and merry making. Hence the participation in this celebration is not restricted to any one. The festival may be celebration at an agreed time according to the convenience of the village people. But since 1994 as per the decision of Dimasa community of Dima Hasao, the Autonomous Council of Dima Hasao had officially declared 27 January as Bishu festival day.

The Bishu festival can be divided into the following categories:-

Bishu Jidap:

Bishu Jidap is generally observed for one to three days. It is celebrated under the guidance of the leadership of the Khunang or Gaonbura. The first day is called mi-staiba meaning slaughtering day of animals for feast. The animal is slaughtered in the morning and in the afternoon they held a community feast called Khalaima khamba in the house of Khunang. When the sun goes down the competition called Baiba Bdailaiba consisting of singing, dancing and playing musical instruments of Muree are held in the courtyard of the bachelor’s traditional house called Nohdrang. The bonfire is lit in the middle of the dancing ground which lightens the ground and serves to warm up themselves from the cold night. The best dancers and Muree players are given prizes. The whole night is then passed in dancing and merry making. The second day is called Bishuma, meaning the main Bishu day. It is on this day the children or juniors pay respect and adoration, to their parents or elders. It is done individually or collectively. This kind of ceremonial blessing is called Bishu Gaba, and is usually undertaken before the mid noon. The whole day passed in eating meat and drinking rice beer. In the afternoon the traditional long-jump called Harang baiba and Shot-put or longthailemba are played in a particular selected level area. The game is meant only for the senior married persons, naturally householder. Interestingly the declared hero or winner has to entertain the villagers with rice beer and meat. On the third and last day young boys and young girls pay a house to house visit by singing and dancing in the courtyard of the selected well to do persons of the village. Whatever they collect either in cash or in kind from this process is eventually used for their feast. In the evening or at the dawn of the morning according to the instructions of the village priest they end their dance and playing musical instruments. On behalf of his village the priest then perform Gerba on the main road of the village by sacrificing a fowl to the deity of the village for omissions and commission during the festivals. This is called Lamphungba, and by sacrificing this ritual means the end of the festival.

Surem Baino

It is generally celebrated for five days. Surem Baino, unlike the Bishu Jidap, is celebrated under the guidance of Gajaibao not of the Khunang (Village headman). When a village is supposed to observe the Surem Baino, they would have to elect or select the Gajaibao or leader or guardian for it long before the celebration. The Bishu celebration is then undertaken in the courtyard of Gajaibao. The function like dancing, singing is also held in the compound of Gajaibaos whereas in the jidap they observe in the Nodrang. These are the differences between Jidap and Surem Baino.

Hangseu Manaoba

The Bishu, the most joyous festival of the Dimasas are celebrated widely through its stages of Jidap or Surem. But the third and the grandest category Hangseu Manaoba is mostly celebrated by a large village where there are large numbers of Hangseu or youths. As Hangseu Manaoba is to be celebrated for seven days or seven nights without stopping of the Khrams (drums) and Muree (trumpet), music, dance, feasting and drinking, therefore the undertaking of this particular category needs a sound economy and healthy background of the village. Due to this the youths take initiative to collect fund long before its celebration. They therefore sometimes engaged as day labourers in the jhum of their fellow farmers for fund raising. Some village youths sometime even make a special jhum for this purpose and thus produce like vegetables, pumpkins, chillies, paddy and others,which are used for the occasion. The women folk also performs "haoba-ragai", community work in exchange for money or provision to celebrate this Bishu. Provision for sufficient quantities of meat, and rice beer- Zudima, Plantain leafs, Pontho-bamboo cups, firewood for the whole night’s bonfire as well as for cooking for the whole seven days have to be making by the youths accordingly. Bishu being termed as community festival of merriment, generally the entire responsibility of the celebration is borne by the youths of the village. Throughout the celebration period the village people observe a ritual called Gerba, wherein the blessings are sought from the deity to protect the village. During the celebration of Bishu the village people do not go out for work or take up any kind of journey. Each and every one has to try their level best not to spoil the festivity spirit but to celebrate in its fullest way, which ought to be made. It is in this Hangseu Manaoba as a mark of festivities and reception; the youths use to erect the traditional welcome gate called Phangsla, at the main entrance gate of the village. The Phangsla is wholly constructed with a bamboo, which is artistically designed and decorated with a splattered bamboo itself. In the by one days the Phangsla is supposed to be constructed only during the Hangseu Bishu, not on the surem or jidap. But now a day, whether it is Jidap or Surem, one can see the Phangsla in the celebration of Bishu, especially in the urban areas. The celebration of Hangseu Manaoba is led under the guidance of selected leader Gajaibao. Besides this leader, they also have boys’ leader called Nagahoja and girls’ leader called Mathlahoja. In Dimasa, young boys or men are called Nagarao and young girls or women are called Malarao. Hangseu or Hangso is a youth organization of which both the Nagarao and Malarao are members. They therefore work hard day and night under the guidance of the said three leaders to make the Hangseu Manaoba Bishu a grand success. First Day :The first day is called Hangseu Bishu Rajini Sthaiba, which means the slaughtering day of animals by the village elders. In the morning the village deities are offered sacrifices either pigs, fowls or goats by the elders group. As each village has its own patron Madais, it therefore, is difficult to mention the names of the Madais here to whom the people would offer. But in every ritual Sibrai is remembered, as he is specially considered as the main deity of the Dimasa. The Madais are offered sacrifices to bless the celebration of the festival so that no accident or untoward incidents take place during the time of celebration. After the ritual ceremony is over a portion of the sacrificial meat are then cooked in the house of Khunang or Gajaibao, and the rest are distributed to each household as per their contribution. Then the village elder would feast together by eating the meat and drinking the rice beer. The youths and children are not allowed to join this feast, it is purely sacramental one. This is called Mido garba. Second Day : The second day is called Nagaraoni Sthaiba, which means slaughtering day of the animals by the youths. In the morning the buffalo which was solely bought by the Hangseus or youth members is killed and prepared a portion of the meat for their grand feast and the rest are distributed to each Hangso members. Before they eat the cook meat, a handful of the meat curry is offered to the deity Sibarai. While offering the meat to Sibarai, the following sacred songs are pronounced by one and all, so that they could have a blessed Bishu.

                             Ning mijing Ang mijing sain-maiya,
                             Sibrai ribani sain-maiba,
                             Sainjora dohjijang sain-maiba,
                             Horjra dohjijang hor-maiba,
                             Waimusa gelekbo diodanang
                             Dimusa gelekbo didanang
                             Baithelik baihining lailadi adungrao
                             Lu thilik luhi ning, lailadi ajangrao.
                             Not by our wishes,
                             But, because of Sibrai we see this day,
                             Let us make merry and be happy,
                             as this day comes only but once.

After one and all saying the above songs, on behalf of the Bishu leader (Gajaibao), and Hangsong youths` association they hold a community feast called Suba jiba. The whole day they eat, drink and rejoice. In the evening, when the sun is about to set, the youths hold a community singing fiesta called Bagaoba. The song is sung generally in a position of standing in lines in a procession type in the open space as if they recharged the spirit of festivity in their midst. The following song is one of the oldest songs of the Hangseu Bishu, which is believed to have its origin from the Zeme Princess. (It is said that once a Dimasa Prince married a Zeme girl which is traditionally considered to be the source of this song). Hangso Manaubani Bagauthai

                             Baoring jiwang jingswe,
                             Araonjai baoring jiwang jingse
                             Jiwang jingse sonai soni wangselei.
                             Jawring gainlao aki hangmai gao,
                             Heleo ronjai mairing gede gom
                             Aki longo kilong longba meser,
                             Gesemsa lairui nihangloba meser,
                             Gesemsa lairui lai.
                             Sengmai gaomai senem bamse,
                             Baigaoke atem maigao,
                             Goke naisong naigaoyalao,
                             Semringpake ningrimjen atem
                             Baujailang.

This procession is held to call the people to participate in the festival forgiving debts and forgetting grievances, differences and enmity. The second day ends in eating. Drinking and in entertaining guests, friends and relatives. Third Day : The third day is called Bishuma. It is considered as the main Bishu day. One this day the children or juniors show respect to their elders and pay ceremonial homage to the elders and offer a Bishu present like a handful of cook meat and a cup full of rice beer. It is done individually or collectively and is usually undertaken within the 12 noon. This kind of ceremonial blessing is called Bishu Gaba. One this day not only pay homage to the living but they also pay homage to the spirits of the dead of the preceding year. This last offering of food and drink to the dead “homage ritual” is known as Makhamgarkhaoba. A community feast is also arranged on this day. Every family entertained people in the house with a handful of meat in a plantain and a bamboo cup of Zu. In the afternoon the badailaiba or traditional sports like longthailemba meaning stone throwing and harong baiba meaning long-jump for the elders are held. The winners are sometimes given prizes by the selected persons like maidung and beseng. (maidung and beseng are the two persons, 1st and 2nd in rank who got more paddy than the others in the preceding year) but traditionally, it is expected that the donations whether in cash or in kind may be used for the feast. These competitions, held in the spirit of friendship and understanding, are meant to entertain and the people have fun and laugh. When the sun goes down, on the courtyard of the Gajaibao a bonfire is lit to warm up from the breezy cold night or to lighten the dancing ground. The young boys and girls, men and women then put on their best traditional dresses and ornaments to take part in the famous Baiba dance. They perform various kinds of dances like Baidima, Jaupinbani, Daislaibani, Jaubani, etc. The good dancers are given prizes. The boys and girls merrily dance together to the music of Kharam and Muree throughout the night, while old men and women and children assembled to witness the gleeful dance of the youths. While watching the skill of their young ones, old men, old women sometimes recalling their sweet bygone days even join the dance for a while just for mirth and fun. A gallon of drinks like Zu and Zudima in a bamboo tube and a bundle peace of meat in a wrapped-up leaf plate are served to them now and then. Drinks are an essential part of the festival and are distributed in fresh pontho (bamboo tube cups) while meat is served in plaintive leaves. While the old aged group cannot take part in the entertainment, they gather in a Khunang house sitting around the fireplace, chatting, joking and tell stories, drinking, eating to their hearts` content. This is how the third day and night passes by. Fourth to Sixth days : The fourth, fifth and sixth days are called Baikhaoba or Jikhaoba. On these days too community feast are held. The days are spent mainly in eating, drinking, singing and dancing and merrymaking. People go from house to house to share the joy of the festivity and each family provides them with ample food and drinks by each family. During these days they will perform the dances in the courtyard of the selected well to do family and to the leaders house. This is called Baisingba. This Social festivity continues till sixth noon. In the morning of the sixth day the youth go round the village singing, dancing and playing music. This is called digarlaiba. For the last dance, they again assembled in the dancing ground by performing the dance in merry go round. In the middle of the arena they made a pothole in the ground and let a pitchful of water and the blood of an earlier sacrificial buffalo, and make watery muddy for playing purposes. After singing and dancing for sometime the dancers, children along with their bachelors leader Nagahoja or Mathlahoja facing to the main door of the house of Gajaibao (Hangseu Bishu Leader)and proceed as if in the coming and going for three times. In the same time some youths behave like monkeys and pull out the main door of the Gaijaibao`s house replace it the new one. Pulling out the door may symbolize the end of the Gajaibao`s responsibility. This is known as derga khouma, meaning the door id pulled off. The pulled door was then carried in procession to the river. During the procession they throw the prepared watery muddy at each other in a playful way. This kind of playing with mud is known as Didap Hulaiba. As soon as they each the river the door is thrown into the water and everyone takes their bath. This simply signifies that the festival has comes to an end.

Idea: Dimasa has a concept and idea to uplight his own society. It has an education for preparation of intellectual. Dimasa has a conception of philosophy to rebirth the soul. Social: A Dimasa family generally consists of the head of the family, his wife, their unmarried son and daughter and unmarried brothers and sisters of the family. Dimasa Kachari has forty male clans called Sengphong and forty two female clan called Julu. The Dimasa society has its own society system of marriage. Existence of female clans along with the male can makes the Dimasa marriage somewhat complicated. The male clans and female clans are exogamous and no marriage can take place between the boys and the girls of the same clan whether be it patri clan or matri clan and however distantly related they might be i.e. A boy belong to Kemprai clan (Patri clan can never marry a girl of a Kemprai father although they might be very distantly related. The same principal is followed in case of the female clan also i.e. a girl belong to madaima mother.) The Ritual performance: The Dimasa have a place cremation ground called Mangkhulong. Dimasa cremate the dead body after death. But in olden times and days, this performance has to be conducted after one month or a year gathering all relation and others.

Dress and ornaments[edit]

DRESS: The Females wear
1.RIJAMPHAIN: white Colour cloth with worn from chest to knees

2.RIJAMPHAIN BEREN (RAMAI): Chest wrapper with Stripes of Bright Colours like white,Green (sometimes deep blue),Black,Yellow (sometimes orange) and red,Worn only in special occasions (marriage,Dance,Festivals).

3.RIGU: Wrapper or Lower Garment Worn from Waist to ankle. it can be Of various colours.

4.RIKHAOSA: A Muffler Either of Yellow, green or white in colour worn above the Chest wrapper. it can be also Taken by the males.

5.RIGU-SET: It is introduced recently due to influence of mainstream culture,It is Dimasa mekhela Chadar,consisting of "Rigu" (Lower garement Worn from Waist to ankle.) and "set" which is same piece of cloth that is drapped like Indian saree.It can be of any colour.

6.BATHORMAI: Kind of Rigu which has only one particular design,it can be of different colours,worn from waist to till knees

Males: 1.SGAOPHA (Phagri): Dimasa males wear turban in a head called “Phagri” or "Sgaopha", Phagri are of either green or yellow but in times of marriages or dance, the bridegroom or dancer wear white phagri tied with red ribbon to the chin.

2.RIGDO: Short Muffler which can be of any colour.

3. RISHA:Short dhoti worn From waist to knee and sometimes taken as muffler also, Risha can be of different colours.

4.GAINTHAO: White Long Dhoti worn from Waist to Ankle

5. RIKHAOSA: long muffler taken by both men and women,it can be in the colours of white,green and yellow

6.RIENDI: Riendi even called Rithap. Chaddar or Shawl worn by men usually made from Endi/Eri silk of Silk worm.

7. REMSHAU: shawl only of colour either white or yellow with colourful design embedded in White background, this type of design is found only on Remshau)

8. MAGONG: shawl of various colour

Ornaments:
The male Dimasa use only two types of ornaments namely Yaocher and Kharik.

Females uses Following Ornaments:
PHOWAL: necklace made of expensive Coral and Real silver metal beads,it also worn by males

JONGSAMA: Necklace made of micro-beads of any colour with Coral and silver beads in between.

RANGBARSHA: Necklace made of coins.

CHANDRAWAL: Necklace made of Three Silver Chain with Flowered shaped.

RMAILIK: necklace made of Micro-beads, the colour pattern is same with the Rijamphain beren or Rmai ( Chest wrapper)

LIKJAO: Necklace made of Red micro beads

LIKSHIM: Necklace made of black micro beads

KHADU: Heavy Silver bangle.

KHAMAOTHAI: Silver/Gold earring.

YAOSHIDAM: finger-Ring

Dances[edit]

The dance forms of the Dimasa Kachari are complex in character. They are strictly dependent on instrumental music. No songs are used. Kharam (drum) follows the rhythm of the Muri (fife) and so also the dancers. Though one may find the music from Muri to be monotonous, there are variations with noticeable microtones for different dance forms. That is why young men practice dancing at Nodrang during leisure hours and the village children follow the rhythm and stepping at a distance from an early age.

Any Dimasa dance is called Baidima ( Bai-means dance, Dima-means Dimasa)
Different kinds of Dimasa dances are-Baidima (Hasao), Baidijuwa, Baidembra, Baimaijai (It means a cultural performance with stone siever once a time during Dimapur reign, so called Baimaiajai. Now-a-days its unable to perform with stone siever. So Cultural performer conducts with plate or Dish during Festival time.), Baijabah (war dance), Hadaobani, Jaubani, Jauphinbani, Ren-gnibani, Baichergi, Khunlubani, Dainselaibani, Khamauthaikhim khaubani, Nanabairibani, Burunjala Khalaibani, Homau daobani, Hakhor Jaobani, Rong-jaobani, Dausimaikhabani, Dauyungjang, Nowaijang dainlaibani, Nah-rimbani, Rogidaw Bihimaiyadao, Maijaobani, Maishubani, Rishibani, Mishai bonthai jibani, Madaikhilimbani and others.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Census of India - Socio-cultural aspects, Table ST-14". Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs. 
  2. ^ Table ST-14, Census of India 2001
  • Bareh, H. Gazetteer of India
  • Barman, N. K. Queen of Cachar of Herambo and the History of the Kachchhari
  • Barpujari, S. K. (ed) (1997) History of the Dimasas: from the earliest times to 1896 AD, Haflong: Autonomous Council, N.C. Hills District (Assam) .
  • Bhattacharjee, J. B. (1992), "The Kachari (Dimasa) state formation", in Barpujari, H. K., The Comprehensive History of Assam 2, Guwahati: Assam Publication Board, pp. 391–397 
  • Bordoloi, B. N. (1988) The Dimasa Kachari, Tribal Research Institute of Assam, Guwahati.
  • Danda, D. (1989) The Dimasa Kacharis of Assam, Concept Publishing co. New Delhi.
  • Gait, Edward A. (1906) A History of Assam, Calcutta 1906.
  • Rhodes, N. G. and Bose, S. K. (2006) A History of the Dimasa Kacharis - As Seen through Coinage New Delhi : Mira Basu Publishers.
  • Roy, Babul (1998) "Socio-Cultural and Environmental Dimensions of Tribal Health: A Study among the Dimasa Kacharis and the Zeme Nagas of N. C. Hills in Assam" Ph. D. Thesis (Unpublished), Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam (India).
  • Roy, Babul (2000) "Medical Pluralism and Pattern of Acceptance of Medicine among the Dimasa Kacharis of Assam" The Journal of Human Ecology. Kamal-Raj Pub., Delhi.
  • Roy, Babul (2002) "Descent groupings, belief system and social structure among the Dimasa Kacharies of Assam", Man in India, Vol.82,No.1&2.

See also[edit]

Dimaraji