Documenting the cultural practices of the Hmar 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.
About the Hmars of the Dima Hasao it is believed that they have come here from Mizoram and also from Silchar of Assam. In Mizo the literal meaning of the term “Hmar” is north. In Mizoram, the Hmars, therefore, refers to those people who live in the north of the Mizo Hills. The Hmars celebrate a number of festivals where men and women, young and old, gather together and make merriments; the festivals are of mainly two kinds. While some are organized by individual families, others are organized and celebrated by the entire village communities. The most prominent feature of any of the festival is dancing which is known as Lam.