Acculturation Among the Mishings                                      Page :37

 
Dr. Jatin
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Dr. Jatin
Mipun's

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In the villages under study, the Mishings practise traditional patterns of worship even though they are Hindus.It has been mentioned earlier that their main deities are the Sun and the Moon(Dnoyee-po:lo) and they recite the names of the deities in every puja and festival.In this context,it can be mentioned that the Vaishnava Gosains(clergy and preachers)and satras(monasteries)are responsible for their conversion to Hinduism(Goswami : 1972). Of course,except the tribal rituals, customs and institutions,the Mishings are similar to the non-tribal Assamese which was reflected even in early writings(see Michell,1883 : 239).Now-a-days, a considerable number of the mishings have been converted into bhagavatia or mahapuruhia(based on the doctrines of Shri Sankardev)sects of Hinduism.The process of transformation from the trivial forms of worship to Hinduism si an interesting phenomenon among the Mishings.Hinduism has introduced new priests (Gosain,Bhakats,Hattulas,Satradhikar),new institutions (Namghar,Satra),new mythologies,a new value-system,pattern of stratification (caste) and the notion of purity and pollution through restriction on food and drinks.
           In the place of primitive religion,now-a-days,the religion of the Mishings is popularly known as Kewalia,Kalsanghati or Nisamalia.These sects are the popular folk level practices of Hinduism.Through these sects also,the mishings have aligned themselves with the non-tribal regional peasant culture.These folk level religious beliefs and practices have helped them in adjusting their tribal practices with the local Hindu beliefs and practices.
           The adoption of Hinduism led to the emergence of a new group of priests and clergy known as the Bhakatas and the Hattulas.Formerly, the Mibu or the Miri, the primitive Mishing priest, was the main person to look after all Pujas and festivals.Now-a-days the Bhakats and the Hattulas,though not necessarily the Brahmins,have been playing the role of preachers, priests and clergy. The introduction of  Hindu priests has adversely affected the position of traditional tribal priests known as Mibu or Miri.      
                The Vaishnavism in Assam centres around Namghar (the place of worship in every village) and Satras (monasteries). Now, in Mishing villages, there are Namghars and the Mishing villagers belong to the  different Satras.There are more than two hundred Satras in Assam.Through this process  also the Mishings are now the part of regional culture.Now they are the part of an institutionalised religious order.
            At the popular level, different of Hinduism have emerged in Assamese villages in general and the tribal communities in particular.They may be divided into Nisamalia or Kewal Dharma ( worshipper of Goddess or Shakti) and Bhagawatia ( followers of the principles of Shrimad Bhagavat) as propounded by Sankardev.
            The Nisamalia sect (a mixture of tribal rituals and Hinduism) is known also as ,Ratikhowa Dharma, Guput Dharma and Amaya Bhakati.The contact with the Gosains (priests) of the Satras (monasteries) of Assam is the main reason for the growth of this sect among the Mishings.
            The Sadhu Bura or the Bhakats are now the head of all religious activities of the Mishings.They are ordained into Bhakats by the Gosains of Satras after proper ritual performance. The position of Kencha Bhakat (raw or unripe),is slightly lower than Poka Bhakat(ripe disciple).With the advent of Namghar in Mishing villages, the Murong (dormitory) has gradually lost its importance.On the other hand,contacts with Hinduism have led to the emergence of new religious organisations also.The followers of Bhagawatia sect have formed Shankar Sangha which has been playing an important role in the propagation of Vaishnavism.It has encouraged social service in some selected pockets.


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