Documenting the cultural practices of the Dimasa tribe of Barrak valley, Assam

Assam is the face of North-eastern India and its cultural identity. All states of North-eastern India – Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura – are connected with this state. It is connected with the neighbouring states with nature, bio-cultural diversity, ethnic identity, linguistic similarity, dress pattern and cuisines. The study area, Dima Hasao (previously known as North Cachar Hills) was taken as the base area for writing brief reports about four Tribes: Hrangkhols, Zemes (Naga), Dimasas and Hmars. This area has been chosen because 68.3 % of its population is the Tribal population – the highest percentage in the state of Assam. Secondly, it is an isolated and difficult area where usually the Government officials and in many cases scholars also do not want to come and explore the dimensions of nature and culture.

The name ‘Dimasa’ most probably stands for the ‘children of the big river’, perhaps the Brahmaputra. In actual practice, the Dimasas like to live on the banks of rivers ie ‘Kamrupa’ in ancient times and ruled over different states under different names at different times in different parts of the valley. The Dimasas still believe that they once ruled in Kamrupa and their Royal family descended from Naraka and his son Bhagadatta of Mahabharata fame. By using their traditional musical instruments like Muri, Muri-wathisa, Supin Khram, Khramdubung, they present their traditional dances. There is an interesting rhythm and harmony between music, songs and the stepping of the dancers.

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