Semkhor Daikho: Land Of the Dimasa Sacred Groves 

Gracy Maibangsa
Gracy Maibangsa
17 year old Dimasa from Assam sharing the knowledge of my community. 

Credits: Wikipedia 

The local Semsas are part of the dimasa tribe and live in a village called Semkhor. The word is derived from sem (salt) + dekhor (well), a place where the kings of the Dimasa tribe have been extracting salt from saline pits for ages, and they still continue this tradition. It is one of the oldest settlements in the area, and it is 30 kilometres from Maibang.

The Dimasas were originally animists, despite the fact that they now consider themselves Hindus.

Even though the Dimasas consider themselves Hindus, they were originally animists. Both the male and female have clans and propitiate the god of their own clan. They believe the Semkhor village contains twelve daikho (places of ancestral god), five of which are located there.

Semkhor village is divided into six areas within the village, known as Rajis, out of which only one Raji has been selected, namely Semkhorma. The Semsas follow a double descent just like their Dimasa counterparts. They are completely dependent on agriculture and practise shifting cultivation. Besides, they are also expert weavers, basketmakers, and other crafts of similar craftsmanship.


The Dimasas believe in a legendary myth of the origin of life on Earth in which a divine bird, "Arikhidima," was conceived by her union with Bangla Raja and laid seven eggs, six of which hatched, namely, Sibarai, Alu Raja, Naikhu Raja, Waa Raja, Gunyung Braiyung, and Hamiadao.

The seventh one, on the other hand, didn't hatch until Hamiadao, the sixth son, broke it open, releasing a slew of spirits said to be wicked and the source of society's woe. The Dimasas believe that these six compassionate ancestral gods rule over all of the lands where they (the people) live. As a result, these ancestral gods are thought to live in a total of twelve such regions. These twelve locations are known as "Daikho," with "Dai" standing for Madai (God in Dimasa) and "Kho" implying "space" or "place." 

People migrating from one area to another and continuing to worship the same clan god in the new settlement were labeled "area gods" because of the "unorganized shrines" of "clan gods." 

The Daikhos hold their rituals only once a year.

The main ritual, known as "Gerba," also known as "khilimba" (prayer), is a type of mass propitiation performed by the village people with the assistance of priests. This form of appeasement is conducted annually and the ingredients for rituals include the sacrificial animal and fowls, along with fruits and other food items, offered to the presiding deities.

Pic : Jonthai - Manja buja : semkhor naalai ha ( once in a year ritual)

Generally, in most of the daikhos outside Semkhor, there are the following categories of priests functioning in the sacred groves or daikhos: Gisia, Jonthai, Dainya and Barwa. 

However, in Semkhor there is a common priest functioning over each of the five daikhos respectively, known as hojai. The hojai have to belong to particular male clans. The post of a hojai is occupied on the basis of individual choice and abilities, and not necessarily based on heredity. Also, there doesn't seem to be any kind of age bar for qualifying as a hojai. Some of the particulars for a hojai are as follows:

  1. The aspirant and eligible person for the position of hojai must go through a ritual known as "ditharkhaoba," in which the senior hojai/jonthai prepares the holy water known as dithar from the blood of a sacrificed pair of chicks.
  1. The next day of the ditharkhaoba ritual, the aspirant hojai undergoes another ritual called "doohai thaib," where the female priests, namely, hojaijik and harwajik, perform the rituals. Here, a cock and two pairs of chicks are required. A pair is sacrificed near the river, and then another one is sacrificed right outside the house of the aspirant hojai.
  1. No males are allowed to eat the meat sacrificed by the female priests, except those by male priests.

As we have discussed above, Semkhor entails a prominent reflection of the other Dimasa areas, with a unique flavor of its own. This statement just keeps in mind the sacred groves and rituals in these groves and the other aspects of the Semsas.