Mishings: A Portrait of the Traditional Social System                Page : 22

 
Dr. Jatin
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Dr. Jatin
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This is one of the several influences of the tribal culture on the non-tribal population in the Valley. The adoption of bihu festivals by the Mishings can be regarded as the result of contact with the non-tribal plains people. Ali-ai-ligang or the spring dance festival is associated with agriculture, specially with the beginning of the  Ahu paddy cultivation. The festival is celebrated on Wednesday of the month of Falgun of Indian calendar. The main objective of the festival is to pray to  Mother-Earth for the production of ahu paddy. Before the festival, they clear up jungles for jhumming, manure the plot,erect new fencing and collect other necessary things for cultivation. On the auspicious day of the Ali-ai-ligang, they prepare food and drink in the forenoon and in the afternoon the heads of the families implant a handful of ahu seed on their respective fields by reciting prayers to the Mother-Earth. After that they offer few drops of apong in the four corners of the me'ram (fire-place) in their respective households.  Then and there only they feast on food and drink. Purang-apin (packed boiled rice), apong, adin and ango are some of the main items of their feast. Later on, all villagers take part in a common feast.
         In the festivals, young and old, irrespective of age and sex, join in merry making. A special dance known a pakse-monam is followed in which the indication of  the movements of green leaves of ahu paddy, in different stages, are shown. The observance and the merry making associated with holidays of  the Ali-ai-ligang continues for five days and they abstain during these days from all sorts of work. No work is generally allowed to be done in the ahu field, so that the Mother Earth shall be pleased and give them plenty of ahu paddy for their livelihood.
         Another important festival, Po:rag, is also connected with agriculture. The festival marks the harvesting time of paddy which is celebrated with feasts and prayers. For the performance of Po:rag, Murong (dormitory) is essential. This festival has preserved the continuity of the Murong among the the Mishings. The whole management of the festival falls on the shoulders of the member-yame (organization of young adults).Before the festival , a Murong is conctructed , whose platform is 4 above the ground, and parallel to the river flow. After every preparation , a Miboo(priest ) is appointed for prayer where member-yame of neighbouring villages are also invited.
          The function starts with some offerings to the creator ChediMelo and Donyi (Sun), Polo (Moon) etc. with Poro-Apong  procured by allowing water to drop through a meticulously prepared bamboo-cage (Pobor) full of the fermented materials. 4/5 pigs without a blemish are brought up specially for the occasion and are sacrificed. The days follow with prayers, feast and revelry,and the nights with prayer-dance (Nitom-sumnam), led by Miboo, dancing round in hops tightened to each other by cloth (Pegu, 1956-35).
The festival contiues for three days and concludes with a prayers dance (ponu-nunam).
             In spite of the two main traditional festivals and the bihu festivals, the Mishings engage themselves in various forms of merry-making. The hunting (apta-ge' nam) and fishing (onge-ne'Knam) are popular among them. These occasions are enjoyed by all villagers depending on their interests and physical fitness.

Folk Songs and Folk Dances 
The Mishings folk songs are very interesting and meaningful. Though the songs are unwritten, they are surviving from generation to generation. As the other tribes of North East India, the Mishings are also very rich in folk songs. By studying the aims and objectives of the folk songs of the  Mishings, Padun (1972 : 117) has divided them as follows:
According to the above divisions, the folk songs of the Mishings can be divided into eight divisions. The first division A:bang, to a certain extent, is similar to classical songs. The language of the A: bang song is old and the song cannot be followed by ordinary people. It is generally used by the Miboo and Miri for ritual purposes. Kaban is just like an English ballad. They express their sorrows of the past and present through Kaban song. Bi:rik song is for seasonal festivals like Ali-ai-ligang and po:rag. Lupo is generally used as the expression of two persons and Midang Niltom is specially for marriage purpose only.  The most popular song of the Mishings is Oi-nitom..
            This Oi-Nitom, which has an antique origin, is the outburst of their inner-most longings, a vent to appreciate the beauty of nature and thus it covers everything   throughout their life, brings forth every conceivable reference where absorbing similes blooms forth and unfold the throbbing story of their joys and sorrows (Pegu, 1956:48)


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