Dimasa Dance forms of the Dimasa Kachari are complex in character. 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. That is why young men practice dancing at Nodrang during leisure hours and the village children follow the rhythm and stepping at a distance from an early age.
The Dimasa are one of the oldest inhabitants of Assam, the North Eastern part of India. They live mostly in Dima Hasao District and Lower portion of Karbi Anglong district. The name ‘Dimasa’ stands for “children of the big river,” referring to Brahmaputra river(known as Dilao in Dimasa).
A History of Kachari Kingdom is nothing but the History of Dimasa Kachari Kingdom. Kachari being one of the indigenous tribe of India’s North-East, their history is quite old. In the Mahabharata and other ancient Hindu scriptures there are mention about the foothill dwellers of the Great Himalayas called ‘Kiratas’. The term Kirata stands for Mongoloid racial communities, but some historian believed that it indicates Kachari.
BUSHU (Bihu) DIMA is an important festival celebrated by Dimasa with the celebration of great pomp and splenduor among the Dimasa. It is an occasion for relaxation from hard toils, therefore can be termed as harvesting festival or a festival of rejoicing and merry making. Bushu, the word gives the meaning such as Brai-Sibrai is a supreme God in Dimasa society. So, in this way, the entire harvesting new paddy is offered first to the Brai sibrai madai for peace of the human kind is called Bushu.
Among the festivals of the Dimasa, Bushu is the most joyous and important community festival. The Bushu festival can be divided into the following categories:-
Busu Jidap : Busu 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 instrument Muree (trumpet) 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 from the cold night. The best dancers and Muree players are given award. The whole night is then passed in dancing and merry making.
The second day is called Busuma, meaning the main Busu day. It is on this day the younger people pay respect and adoration to their parents and elders, this is done either individually or collectively. This kind of ceremonial blessing is called Busu Gaba, and is usually undertaken before the mid noon. In the afternoon the traditional long-jump called Harong baiba and Shot-put or longthailemba are played in a particular area. The game is meant only for the senior married persons. Interestingly the declared winner has to entertain the villagers with rice beer and meat.
On the third and last day young boys and 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 of the 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 festival. This is called Lamphungba, which marks the end of the festivity.
Surem Baino : It is generally celebrated for five days. Surem Baino, unlike the Busu 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 Busu 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 Nodrung. There are very few differences between Jidap and Surem Baino.
Hangseu Manaoba: The grand of all is Hangseu Manaoba which is mostly celebrated by a large village where there are large numbers of Hangseu or youths. As Haangseu Manaoba is celebrated for seven days or seven nights without stopping of the Khrams (drums) and Muree (trumpet), along with dance, feasting and drinking, therefore the undertaking of this particular category needs a sound economy and healthy background of the village. The youths take initiative to collect fund long before the celebration actually kicks off. Sometimes they younger generation engage themselves as day labourers in the jhum of their fellow farmers for fund raising. Some village youths even make a special jhum in which they grow pumpkins; chillies, paddy etc which are used during the feast. Provision for sufficient quantities of meat, and rice beer- Zudima, Plantain leafs, Pontho-bamboo cups, firewood for the whole night’s bonfire and cooking for seven days are arranged. Busu 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 the village people observe holidays called Genna, meaning restricted holiday. During the celebration of Busu the village people do not go out for work or take up any kind of journey.
It is in this Hangseu Manaoba as a mark of festivities and reception; the youths build the traditional welcome gate called Fangsla, at the main entrance of the village. The Fangsla is constructed with bamboo, which is artistically designed and decorated also with splattered bamboo; one can see the Fangsla in the celebration of Busu, especially in the urban areas.