A scenic view of Khobak Village, Dima Hasao

Dima Hasao district (DHD) (formerly, North Cachar Hills district) is an administrative district in the state of Assam in north-eastern India. As of 2011 it is the least populous district of Assam (out of 27).[1]


Dima Hasao District district was a part of Kachari Kingdom before 1832. The kingdom was extended from Jamuna in the North to the foot-hills of Lushai Hills in the south & from the Kopili in the west to the Angami & Katcha Naga hills beyond the Dhansiri in the east. The Dimasa Kachari kings had their Capitals successively at Dimapur, Maibang, Kashpur & lastly at Horitikor ( Karimganj district near Badarpur ). In 1830, the Dimasa king Gobinda Chandra was assassinated by his own general Gambhir Singh, after that the British annexed the southern part of the kingdom on 14 August 1832 under the doctrine of Lapsi. The rest was ruled by last Dimasa General Tularam. In 1837 a portion of Tularam’s kingdom was further annexed to the British Empire & constituted into a sub-division of Nagaon district in 1837 with Head quarter at Asalu. In 1854, on the death of Tularam, the remaining portion of his kingdom was finally annexed to the British Empire & added to the Asalu sub-division.

In 1867 this sub-division was abolished & apportioned into three parts among the districts Cachar, Khasi & Jaintia Hills & Nagaon.

The present North Cachar Hills district was included in the old Cachar district with Asalu being only police outpost. In 1880, this portion was constituted into a sub-division with Head quarters at Gunjung under Cachar district.

This head quarter was shifted to Haflong in 1895. Since then Haflong continues to be the Head quarter. In 1951, after commencement of the constitution of India, North Cachar Hills as specified under paragraph 20 of the sixth schedule to the constitution, ceased to be a part of Cachar district. This part along with Mikir Hills constituted a new civil district namely “ United district of North Cachar & Mikir Hills” with effect from 17 November 1951. According to the provision of sixth schedule, two different councils were constituted later on, viz., North Cachar Hills District Council & Mikir Hills District Council within the geographical boundary of that district. Dima Hasao District District Council was inaugurated on 19 April 1952. In 2 February 1970, Government declared an independent administrative district, viz., North Cachar Hills District with the geographical boundary of autonomous North Cachar Hills district council. It may be mentioned here that at present this autonomous council possesses administrative control over almost all departments of the district except Law & order, Administration & Treasury Deptt.


The district headquarters are located at Haflong. Dima Hasao district occupies an area of 4,888 square kilometres (1,887 sq mi),[2] comparatively equivalent to Brazil's Ilha Grande do Gurupá.[3]


Dima Hasao district is an Autonomous District (Lok Sabha constituency) enjoying the Sixth Schedule status granted by the Constitution of India. In protest against the change in nomenclature of NC Hills as Dima Hasao on March 30, 2010, the NC Hills Indigenous Peoples’ Forum (IPF) and its affiliated bodies such as Indigenous Students' Forum (NCHISF), Indigenous Women's Forum has now raised the demand for bifurcation of the hill district. These bodies alleged the Assam government turned the non-Dimasa indigenous tribes in the district like Hmars, Zeme Nagas, Kukis, Biates, Karbis,Vaipheis, Hrangkhawls, Jaintias and others into “foreigners” on their own land. The situation has also led to the establishment of a new underground outfit Hills Tiger Force demanding immediate bifurcation of the district.



The Dimasas of Dima Hasao District, being agrarian people, celebrate various agricultural festivals in different ways and at different times. Mostly Dimasas inhabiting North Cachar Hills and Karbi Anglong districts are successful in preserving their age old traditional religious beliefs and practices in and through the celebration of several festivals, with some exceptions, due to being Hinduised.

The Dimasa festival can be categorized into community festivals and local festivals. The local festivals are performed by each village separately, and participation is restricted to the people of the village concerned. The community festivals are Misengba and Bishu, while local festivals are Khorongfang Gerba and Maisalai Gerba.

BISHU (The joyous harvesting festival)

Among the festivals of the Dimasas, Bishu is the gayest and the most 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 grand Bishu festival may be divided into three categories:- Bishu Jidap : When the Bishu is celebrated for three days, it is called Jidap Surem Baino: If it is observed for five days, it is called Surem Baino Hangseu Manaoba : When it is observed for seven days it is called Hangseu Manaoba In all festivities they used to make a “heih-ho” (Haoba) as to mark the grand festivities and ceremony.

Let us give in details the following categories:-

Bishu Jidap:

Bishu Jidap is generally observed for three days. It is celebrated under the guidance of the leadership of the Khunnag 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 court yard of the bachelor’s traditional house called Nodrung. The bonfire is lit in the middle of the dancing ground which lightens the ground and serves to warm up them selves 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 Bishu

It is generally celebrated for five days. Surem Baino, unlike the Bishu Jidap, is celebrated under the guidance of Gajaibao not of the Khunang or Gaonbura. 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 Nohdrang. These are the differences between jidap and Surem Baino.

Habgseu Manaoba Bishu

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 Haangseu 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 etc. which are used for the occasion. 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 holidays called Genna, meaning restricted holiday. 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 Fangsla, at the main entrance gate of the village. The Fangsla is wholly constructed with a bamboo, which is artistically designed and decorated with a splattered bamboo itself. In the by one days the Fangsla 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 Fangsla 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 Mathlarao. Hangseu or Hangso is a youth organization of which both the Nagarao and Mathlarao 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 g the village deities are pacified by offering 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 Dimasas. 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 cook 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 Sithaiba, which means slaughtering day of the animals by the youths. In the morning the buffalo which was solely bough 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 Sibrai. While offering the meat to Sibrai, the following sacred songs are pronounced by one and all, so that they could have a blessed Bishu.

                               Ningmijing ang mijing saimaiya,
                               Sibrai ribani saimaiba,
                               Sainjora dojijang sainmaiba,
                               Horjira dujijang hormaiba,
                               Waimusa gelekbo diodanang
                               Dimusa gelekbo didanang
                               Baithelik baihining lailadi adungrao
                               Lu thilik lu hi 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

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 Khram 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 Jokhaoba. 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 court yard 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 in to the water and everyone takes their bath. This simply signifies that the festival has comes to an end.


In 2006 the Indian government named Dima Hasao one of the country's 250 most backward districts (out of a total of 640).[4] It is one of the eleven districts in Assam currently receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF).[4]


According to the 2011 census Dima Hasao district has a population of 213,529,[1] roughly equal to the nation of Samoa.[5] This gives it a ranking of 588th in India (out of a total of 640).[1] The district has a population density of 44 inhabitants per square kilometre (110 /sq mi) .[1] Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 13.53 %.[1] Dima Hasao has a sex ratio of 931 females for every 1000 males,[1] and a literacy rate of 78.99 %.[1]

The major tribes inhabiting the district are Dimasas, Hmars, Zeme Nagas, Kukis. Other significant ethnic groups include the Biates, Hrangkhawls, Karbis, Vaipheis, Jaintias and Khelmas.[6]


Common dialects spoken in the district are Haflong Hindi, Dimasa, Hmar, Zeme Naga, Kukis and many other tribal dialects [7]


From the 2001 Census data[8], it can be seen that 62.18% of all the tribals and 86.57% of the non-tribals living in DHD are Hindus. Of all the Hindus, 48.71% are Dimasa, 39.27% are non-tribals, 5.68% are Rongmei Naga, and 3.83% are Karbi. 98.73% of the Dimasa, 86.57% of the non-tribals, 85.71% of the Hajong, 47.39% of the minor tribes, 46.65% of the Garo and 43.72% of the Naga are Hindu.

Tribe Pop Hindu Hindu% % of Hindus Animist
All Tribes 128,428 79,853 62.18% 60.73% 630
Dimasa 64,881 64,055 98.73% 48.71% 13
Naga 17,078 7,467 43.72% 5.68% 586
Kuki 16,757 1,266 7.56% 0.96% 22
Hmar 13,863 114 0.82% 0.09% 0
Mikir 7,973 5,037 63.18% 3.83% 0
Khasi 3,157 115 3.64% 0.09% 3
Minor Tribes 2,391 1,133 47.39% 0.86% 0
Lushai 1,676 354 21.12% 0.27% 6
Garo 508 237 46.65% 0.18% 0
Hajong 84 72 85.71% 0.05% 0
Chakma 56 3 5.36% 0.00% 0
Synteng 4 0 0.00% 0.00% 0
Non-Tribals 59,651 51,639 86.57% 39.27% 3
All Pop 188,079 131,492 69.91% 100.00% 633


The district is globally known for a place named Jatinga ', a village, which is famous for the phenomenon of birds “committing suicide”. Although the birds do not commit suicide and are actually killed, the phenomenon of suicide has spread far and wide among common people[9] The village is inhabited by about 2,500 Jaintia tribal people.

At the end of monsoon months especially on moonless and foggy dark nights between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., birds are disturbed by the locals and they are attracted to lights. These dazed birds are captured using bamboo poles by the locals.Famous naturalist late E.P. Gee brought this phenomenon at a global level 1960s. He drove to Jatinga with famed ornithologist late Salim Ali.[10] The cause of it is likely to be disorientation at high altitudes and high speed winds due to the widespread fog characteristic at the time. The zoological survey of India sent Dr Sudhir Sengupta to unravel this mystery. Dr Sengupta is of the opinion that weather conditions make changes in the magnetic qualities of the underground water in this area. However, Dr Sengupta could not justify his opinions. The most recent description of the phenomenon and its comparison with similar incidents elsewhere in Malaysia, Philippines and Mizoram is found in the book The Birds of Assam by Assam's best known ornithologist Dr Anwaruddin Choudhury. He concluded that the birds, mostly juveniles and local migrants, are disturbed by high velocity winds at their roost. When the disturbed birds fly towards lights as refuge they are hit with bamboo poles and killed or injured.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "District Census 2011". 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-30. 
  2. ^ Srivastava, Dayawanti et al. (ed.) (2010). "States and Union Territories: Assam: Government". India 2010: A Reference Annual (54th ed.). New Delhi, India: Additional Director General, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India), Government of India. pp. 1116. ISBN 978-81-230-1617-7. 
  3. ^ "Island Directory Tables: Islands by Land Area". United Nations Environment Program. 1998-02-18. Retrieved 2011-10-11. "Ilha Grande do Gurupá 4,864km2" 
  4. ^ a b Ministry of Panchayati Raj (September 8, 2009). "A Note on the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme". National Institute of Rural Development. Retrieved September 27, 2011. 
  5. ^ US Directorate of Intelligence. "Country Comparison:Population". Retrieved 2011-10-01. "Samoa 193,161" 
  6. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named toi1
  7. ^ Col Ved Prakash, "Encyclopaedia of North-east India, Vol# 2", Atlantic Publishers & Distributors;Pg 575, ISBN 9788126907045
  8. ^ Table ST-14, Census of India 2001
  9. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (1986). Bird killing at Jatinga. The Sentinel 7 September.
  10. ^ Gee, E.P. (1964). The Wild Life of India. Collins, London.
  11. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (2000). The Birds of Assam. Gibbon Books & WWF-India, Guwahati.240pp.

External links[]

Coordinates: 25°30′N 93°00′E / 25.5, 93

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