Mishings: A Portrait of the Traditional Social System                Page : 15

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Dr. Jatin
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Dr. Jatin
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Districts Total population Percentage to total population
in the districts
Percentage increase
during 1961-71
North Cachar Hills 52,583 69.75 21.71
Cachar 15,283 0.89 8.57

            Source   : Census of India, Assam State, 1971, Part V : Special Tables, Ethnographic Notes on
                              Scheduled Castes and Schedule Tribes

   Few years back, the Mishings were popularly known as Miris in the plains of Assam. How the Mishings have got the name Miri is a controversial issue. But it can be assumed that this name was given to them by the non-tribal Assamese-people[Pegu: 1956;4; Pamegam: 1972:4]. Among the Adis of Arunachal, the priest is known as Miri or Mirin. It is probable that non -tribal plains people of Assam called the tribe as Miri after they came in to contact with the priests. Pegu[1956:5] is of the opinion that the Mirin[ghost], with its different forms, is generally led by the Miri-Aboo or Myboo or Myiboo[the functional titles of priests among the Adis]. The myiboo, besides being the priests, acts as the chronicler of the above tribes. As time eventually rolled on , they were bound to come in contact with the plains people of the Brahmaputra Valley who began to refer to their abode as the Miri Hills-the home land of the Miris.This probably occured more than six hundred years back as evident from the fact that Mahapurusha Sankardev [1449-1569A.D.], and Madhavdev (1489-1566 A.D.), the two great Vaishnavite teachers and reformers had referred to the Miris in their devotional writings. Later on,the Mishings were popularly known as Miris in Assam.The meaning of the word Mising is interesting. The members of tribe regard themselves superior to other people. Therefore, they call themselves Mi[Men], Yashing [bright or good]= Mishing, which means ''We are bright or good people", compared to the Mishings,and generally used for the people of the plains.
          Since the invasions of the Ahoms on the Chutia kingdom(1376A.D.-1500A.D.),the Mishings had relations with the plains people of Assam. When they came down from the Northern hills, they came in close contact with the Chutias who had a Kingdom around Sadia. When the Chutia Kingdom was invaded and conquered by the Ahoms(1376A.D.-1500A.D.), it is said, a few nobles with their families took shelter in the Mishing villages and displayed feigned identity,as Mishings,to escape the disgrace of being molested by the Ahoms. Afterwards, matrimonial relationship between the Chutias and the Mishings took place. It is evident from the fact that few Mishing families still offer annual homage(jal-pinda) to some Chutia Mine(Grandmother) in several Mishing villages. After cessation of the Chutia rule , the area around Sadia came under the administrative grasp of Sadia-Khowa-Gohain,a representative of the Ahom king. After a sporadic conflict, Sadia-Khowa-Gohai persuaded the Mishings to come to an agreement. According to that verbal treaty, the Mishings promised to help the Ahoms in resisting the other tribes who frequently attacked the Ahom border. To that effect twelve chiefs, or Gams(Boro-Gam), were appointed from some big Mishing villages and ten chiefs (Dah-Gam) from other villages.         
                                                           

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