Judima: A traditional wine reflecting the shared memory of the Dimasa community

BY | Saturday, 9 December, 2023

“Judima is embedded in our Dimasa culture from birth to death,” says Ronald Difoesa Dimasa, Asst Professor and President of Kachari Nohdrang Committee, Kisama.

Judima is a traditional wine of the Kacharis/Dimasas of Nagaland and Assam. This ethnic rice wine is also the first traditional brew in the Northeast to receive GI tag under Assam. Ju in Dimasa Kachari means traditional brew and Dima is indicative of the Dimasa Kachari community.

From the time a child is born, till the passing of a person and everything in between, Judima is an indispensable part of the indigenous Dimasa community in both Assam and Nagaland. It is served in almost every occasion such as birth, engagements, marriage, funerals and festivals of the community.

“No important occasion—whether it’s a celebration or mourning ritual—is complete without it. The taste of Judima resides deep in the shared memory of the community,” writes Scholars Dejna Daulagupu and Dolly Kikon in their paper “Following Judima in Dima Hasao: A Rice Wine Story” published in Locavore.

The paper also highlights the meticulous process of brewing Judima which takes more than a month to mature, the sacredness of the brew among the Dimasa community, and the deep cultural, ecological and social significance of a drink which binds the community together. For instance, during the first birth ritual known as nana besheng jiriba, Judima is dabbed on the lips of the newborn baby, mentions Kikon and Daulagupu.

Made from fermented sticky rice, brewing Judima involves a long and meticulous process, according to Difoesa. The fermenting agent is collected from a certain plant called Thempra.The bark of Themprah tree (Acacia Penata), cut into tiny pieces, is used as an agent with the grounded rice to prepare a solid cake called Humao as a starter for brewing Judima. Themprah is primarily used among the community to make Judima.

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“Judima reflects an indigenous way of living and celebrating life. More importantly, it highlights indigenous people’s knowledge of their forest and land,” adds Kikon and Daulagupu.

At the ongoing Hornbill Festival 2023, Judima is also one of the best selling traditional brew, which is available at the Kachari Morung.

Deeply intertwined in the social fabric, today Judima has become a cultural identity for the Dimasa community, views Difoesa.

Over the years, through events like the Hornbill Festivals, and a growing consciousness among the young, Judima is gaining greater recognition. And according to Difoesa, today, it acts as a catalyst to bring social harmony and economic development in the community.

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