Dimasa Kachari Tribe – The Most Widely Spread Tribe of North-East
Dimasa Kachari Tribe is one of the many tribes inhabiting Assam and Nagaland states of North East India. These are the most widely spread tribal groups in the north-eastern region of India. These tribes are mainly found in the North Cochar Hills, Cachar and Karbi Anglong district of Assam. According to the Dimasa mythology, they are the children of Earthquake God “Bangla Raja” and the great divine bird “Arikhidima”.
According to the Dimasa history, Sixty Thousand Moon months ago, they left their ancestral land when it suffered a severe drought. Then they came to the Brahmaputra Valley and becomes the earliest inhabitants of the Brahmaputra Valley. Dimasas have their seats in the city called Dimapur. Lying on the banks of the river Dhansiri , also known as the Brick City , was the ruling Capital of Kacharis – the prominent and powerful race of those times. Dimapur got its name from the Kachari word Di – meaning water, Ma – meaning – big and Pur – meaning City. Hence, they got their name as “children of the big river” that connotes Brahmaputra River. Dimasa tribes belong to the Indo-Mongoloid group which includes the Bodo Tribe and their allied tribes. They call themselves Bodo or Bodo-fisa in the Brahmaputra valley and Dimasa or Dima-fisa in North Cachar Hills and Karbi Anglong District.
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Religion of Dimasa-Kachari Tribe
Most of the people, almost 98% of all Dimasa living in Assam are Hindu. They consider themselves to be Hindus although they have their traditional gods and goddesses. As according to their believes, they are the children of Earthquake God “Bangla Raja” 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 ancestral Gods. Among the six ancestral gods, Sibrai being the eldest, is the most important and during worship his name is to be uttered first. Sibrai is equated with Hindu Siva and Ranachandi with Parbati or Kali.
In the earliest days, the whole Dimasa kingdom was divided into twelve religious areas called “Daikho”. There are twelve priests for twelve Daikhos and they are called as “Zonthai”. Zonthai have supreme authority in matters of deities and religion and above Zonthai is there is “Zonthaima”. They also have other priests namely, “Dain-yah” is the one who sacrifice animal, “Hojai” performs the rituals over the twelve Zonthais and “Gisiya” who is the principal priest or chief priest of Dimasa Tribe. The Dimasa concept of heaven and hell is also very faint. According to their belief “Firinghi” is heaven and “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.
Festival of Dimasa-Kachari Tribe
Like the other tribes in Assam, Dimasas also celebrate different festivals in their own traditional way. some of the most celebrated festivals of the Dimasas are Bushu, Rajini Gabra, Harni Gabra, Hangseu etc.
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Bushu is an important festival celebrated by Dimasa with the celebration of great pomp and splenduor among the Dimasa.The Bushu festival is parallel to the Bihu. Bushu is celebrated after completion of harvest and the most joyous and important community festival of Dimasa Tribe. The whole village is designed with special artistic arrangement for the occasion and they alsoo design and construct a gate called “Fangsla”. “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. Bushu is followed by singing accompanied by the rhythm of Kharams, 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 organized in front of Nodrang in last day.
Bushu has a three kind namely: “Surem Bushu” observe for three or five days, “Hangseu manaoba Bushu” is observed for seven days and “Jidab Bushu” is for only one day.
The Jidap Bushu is celebrated for only one day. It is celebrated under the guidance of the leadership of the Khunang or Gaonbura. In that day, animals are slaughtered for feast called “mi-staiba”. 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”.
In the Surem Bushu, long before the celebration, they would have to elect or select the Gajaibao or leader or guardian for it. The function like dancing, singing is also held in the compound of Gajaibaos.
The Hangseu Manaoba Bushu, mostly celebrated by a large village where there are large numbers of 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 Bushu 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, even some youths 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 Bushu. Throughout the celebration period, the village people observe a ritual called “Gerba”, where the blessings are sought from the deity to protect the village. During the celebration of Bushu the village people do not go out for work or take up any kind of journey.
Every year Dimasa Kachari Tribe family worships its diety before sowing paddy. This small festive is known as Madai Khelimba. For the people who die , Dimasas cremate them. The dead person is bathed with fresh water, draped in new bright clothes and placed inside the house for the last moments. The widow does not tie her hair till the body is cremated near the river side.
The Rajini Gabra and Harni Gabra is one of the known socio religious festival of Dimasa tribe which is celebrated for once in a year. It is usually celebrated before the new cultivaation is being started. The immortal Harni is worshiped at the same day seeking blessings for the well being of all the people of the village for the coming year. This festival is celebrated inside the village itself and no other people from the outside of the village is aallowed to be in this festival and it is proceeds by shutting down the gates of the village on that special day by the village headman (Kunang).
Traditional Dress of Dimasa Kachari Tribe
The style and pattern of this tribe attire is very unique and colorful andtraditional. Both men and women wear the household designed costumes. The women wear Rijamphain to cover the body from chest to knees, Rigu to cover from waist to ankle, Bathormai a kind of Rigu which has only one particular design, to cover from waist to knees. The males wear Sgaopha as a turban, Rigdo a short muffler, Risha short dhoti worn from waist to knee and sometimes taken as muffler also, Gainthao white long dhoti, worn from waist to ankle, Rikhaosa long muffler taken by both men and women.
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Economy of Dimasa Tribe
The main source of livelihood of the Diamsa Kacharis is agriculture and it is also the principal occupation. Dimasa mainly adopt shifting cultivation, commonly known as jhum, in hilly areas. 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. Then the Dimasa boys and girls carry the paddy to his own house from the keeping Mandu.
Traditional Dance of Dimasa Kachari Tribe
The dance forms of the Dimasa Kachari Tribe are complex in character. Any Dimasa dance is called Baidima where Bai-means dance, Dima-means Dimasa. Dimasas does not use any song to perform the dance and they are strictly dependent on instrumental music. 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.
Different kinds of Dimasa dances are – Baidima (Hasao), Baidijuwa, Baidembra, Baimaijai, Baijabah (war dance), Hadaobani, Jaubani, Jauphinbani, Ren-gnibani, Baichergi etc. Usually Baimaijai is performed with stone siever but now-a-days its unable to perform with stone siever, so Cultural performer conducts with plate or Dish during Festival time.
Folk dance performed by Dimasa Kachari tribe
Video courtesy : WildFilmsIndia