Documenting the cultural practices of the Zeme Naga 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 Zeme Nagas are distributed in Dima Hasao and parts of adjoining Manipur and Nagaland states. They are classified as one of the sub-tribes of the Kacha Nagas. The Zemes living in Nagaland are called Zeliang while those of the Manipur borders are known as Zelianrong. Originally, they migrated from Nagaland via Manipur and settled down in the north- eastern part of Dima Hasao and south of Maibang. The Zeme Nagas of Dima Hasao of Assam are influenced with the Hinduism and they have taken several positive elements from the Hindu religion. Zeme rituals have the elements of magic, invocation, appeasement, propitiation and prayer. Sacrificial offering is the central part of Zeme rituals.

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