FOLK SONGS OF THE MISINGS- Part I

FOLK SONGS OF THE MISINGS- Part I

The Misings have been living in the plains of Assam in the midst of non-Mising population ever since they migrated from the hills. i.e. the 11th century or so. The Misings has a rich folk literature which reflects their sentiments and feelings, social norms and values, historical events associated with their migration from the hills to plains as well as socio-political events experienced in their life. Their folk literature can be described under the broad headings.

  1. Folk Song.
  2. Folk Tale.

The folk songs can be again sub-grouped into-

  1. Devotional song.
  2. Love Song.
  3. Song of lamentation.
  4. Lullaby.
  5. Nursery rhyme.

Devotional song Or A:bangs:

The devotional songs called ‘A:bangs’ occupy a unique position in the life-stream of the Mising community. It is a verse of hymn of praise and worship to God or Goddess. It reflects the true philosophical concept of the community. It narrates not only the pray songs of the supernatural but also the different modes and ways of life of the Mising people. It is the true religious guide to the community.

The A:bangs are very rich in emotional appeal, philosophical import, figure of speech and elegance of words. This is decidedly a superior literature and no man of taste can fail to appreciate its sweetness. These songs are very agreeable to the ears as songs combining occasionally with dance while they can captivate the minds of the listeners with a mead of devotional ecstasy. The A:bangs are the earliest known verbal songs of the community. Hence, these songs can be called as Historical Songs or Poetric History of the community.

These songs reflect the poetical genius of the people in traditional ways. The A:bangs containing appealing and melodious tunes with simple themes may sometimes give descriptions of natural phenomenon or songs of creation of nature.

Without a “Mibu”, the priest of the community, it is beyond to the common people to remember these songs and explain their exact meanings. Some festivals like “Po:rag” festival the “Mibu” sings “A:bangs” throughout the night with a group of young boys and girls. these songs wonderfully appeal to Gods or Goddesses for their special incarnation on him. The spirit of God or Goddess is supposed to have entered the have entered the body of a “Mibu”. This system is known as “Pa:ro A:nam”. Here the “Mibu” has been empowered with some supernatural powers and can foretell the fortunes of the people. In this way the A:bangs occupy a religious sentiments in the minds of the community.

The origin of the A:bangs can’t be determined exactly. These songs are transmitted from centuries past amongst the ‘Mibu’. The A:bangs have got direct and positive relation with the ‘Mibu’ in their origin and popularity. The ‘Mibu’ are considered as the religious guide of the community and hence we can call these songs as religious songs.

The A:bangs contain descriptions of social bindings and integration. The origin of the living creatures such as animals birds and of the plants, trees etc. are found descriptions elaborately in A:bangs.

The Misings community has its own of narrating story of creation of its ancestors either in verse or in the form of Folktales. This verse, considered to be the holiest just like the Vedas, recited only on some particular occasions. They not only narrate the basic principles of creation but also trace the history of origin of the Mising from dim past.

Love Song(Oi-Ni:toms):

 The Love songs are the most popular songs of the Mising people. These songs are familiar and sung by all sections of the society irrespective of sex. These songs have supplied imagery to express ones feelings and thoughts. These songs spring out from the state of uncontrollable year.

The “Oi-Ni:toms” are rich and varied in meanings. These songs have come down to the people passed on from one generation to other.

These songs occupy a unique positions in popularity amongst the youths of the Mising people. Some writers explain the words “Oi-Ni:tom” in this way- Oi-love and affection, Ni:-to console or lull, TOM- who is consoled or lulled. Hence,the words signifies a song or a ballad to be sung with object of expressing one’s love and affection. These songs are comparable with Bongeets, Bihugeets, compossed in Assameses language.

Mising Dance

Mising Dance

It is difficult to trace the origin of “Oi-Ni:toms”. These folk songs were created as parts of oral literature. These songs directly or indirectly reflects some of their socio-cultural life thinking. Like other folk songs, ‘Oi-Ni:toms’ have been also changing from time to time in accordance with the changing sociocultural life of the people. Yet ‘Oi-Ni:toms’ are ever fresh and ever move like a river.

The Mising people express throght  Oi-Ni:toms their love and affection. The tribal people sing their songs not for its tune, but to record their own moods and emotions. They give expressions to their thoughts in their songs. Yeraning youthful heart, desire to talk with the lover etc. are some of the expressions by Oi-Ni:toms. These songs are their life connected with joys and happiness. Different natural plural phenomenon also find place in these songs. A large number of songs are sung yearly on various themes. The Mising youths display extraordinary fertility of mind in composition of Oi-Ni:toms.

These songs are sung in season and out of season. They indicate many of the feelings which pulsate the heart of the youth. Oi-Ni:toms are sung both singly such as when someone is doing work alone in the fields and sometimes, are sung collectively during feast and festivals such as Bihu, ‘Po:rag’, ‘Ali A:ye Lvgang’ etc. while they work in the field, they sing to relieve the monotony of their activities. They have also no inhibitions about singing Oi-Ni:toms loudly in the hearing of others. Sometimes some funny songs are sung by them when group of men or women working on paddy harvesting as in ‘Rvgbo Gvnam’ or fishing in rivers. They suddenly burst into song and there is a loud chorus singing many songs one after another till the work is finished.

The Oi-Ni:toms are interesting for several reasons. They are exquisite love songs and give a glimpse of the youth psychology. They prove that even the unlettered people can create superb imagery. They also throw light on social and domestic relations including their occupations. They also reveal how lovers talk in them rather than in ordinary speech.

In festive occasions, the youths, the ladies in particular, put on artistically woven clothes and dance following the tunes of Oi-Ni:toms. Dances follow the Oi-Ni:toms in accompaniment of tunes played in their indigenous musical instruments. Usually in festive occasion, many songs are composed and sing them. Sometimes singers are invited by the people of the village and these songs receive great appreciation and enthusiasm by the host.

OI-NITOM-Folk song of Misings

The “Oi-Nitom”  is the accurate outburst of Mising Peoples inner longing, a vent to appreciate the beauties of the nature in abundance, and thus it covers every activity throughout their life. Bring out every conceivable reference where absorbing smile blossom forth, unfold the throbbing story of their joys and sorrows. Romanticism is also a distinguished feature of these ‘Oi-Nitoms’ and such it is dear to the hearts of the younger population.

The Oi-nitom has exhilarating rhythm, youthful vigor and delicious composition mostly related to there love making, sung alone or in accompaniment of drum and dances. The oi-nitom have the unique characteristic of having seven ‘Tal’ or rhythm in each lines and four lines in each verse or ‘nitom’, complete in itself conveying the desired message. For example, they sing after a good harvest:

Amro arik elangka,

Mema Sakmape dolangka;

Dolu mimbir yatlangka,

Yume  rowyem kalangka.

(Do cultivate Ahu paddy and eat and drink for the rest of the years. Do love a village belle, and have her glimpse morning and evening as you feel like.)

Here, each line has seven ‘tal’(rhythm or Syllable)  as thus:

Am/ro a/rik e/lang/ka,
me.ma sak/map do/lang/ka;

Do/lu mim/bir yat/lang/ka,

Yu/me row/yem ka/lang/ka.

And the village belle are no way to be left behind and tauntingly come the reply in these lines:

Sagi gilai kapiyen

Miksi dilai kapiyen,

Menam oime pamamil,

Turra dulai kapiyen.

(What for your sighing, what for the torrent of tears in your eyes. This life is not worth living if you cannot have the love of the girl you are yearning for!.)

In this verse too, the principle of seven, ‘tal’ os syllable holds good as thus:

Sa/gi gi/lai ka/pi/yen,

Mik/si di/lai ka/pi/yen,

Me/nam oi/me pa/ma/mil,

Tur/ra du/lai ka/pi/yen.

Examples may be multiplied. However, any number of suffix or prefix may be added to this principal rhythm. Sometimes the similar  used is farfetching, and at times it reveals their power of penetrating deep into the worldly truth. Here are some examples of absorbing simile picked up by the Mising to their best advantage.

Adi jili jiliko,

Miksi jili jiliko,

Adi jili pinyepe,

Miksi jili pinpemang.

(The torrent of my tears compares with the torrent of the hilly streams; the hilly streams have chances to dry up, but mine has no parallel; it is perpetual.)

Mepak name rigado,

Oko agom lumane.

Mepak name konedo,

Oko agom lumane.

(What plant on the earth would not grow in a deserted land! To extent a deserted woman would not ill-use her tongue!)

But their entire philosophy of life and death, soul and salvation may be expressed as simple as in the following stanza:

Chapori oi chapori,

Chopan sula romdaggam,

Oi ngonyik mikkide

Tolo yipum suyepe.

(We may be buried or cremated apart in islands located in distant land. But the smoke or the soul would surely unite above, beyond the reach of the worldly being.)

Evidently, these Oi-nitoms appear to be a later development and a variation from above ‘kaban’. “Kaban” literary means lamentation and invariably expresses an air of dejection; but the Oi-Nitom has an expression of joy in better part of it, though certain expression of inner longing or sadness is not completely excluded. The Misings after coming down to the fertile land of the Brahmaputra valley, found themselves amidst beauties of nature and abundance of food and other necessities of life in lieu of nominal labour. Consequently, they looked for vent of expression of new found joy after a good harvest. They modulated their ages-old ‘Aabang’ and ‘Kaban’ into certain rhythmic lines and tunes which resulted ultimately in those “Oi-Nitoms”. It is noteworthy, in this context, that the groups of Misings who had not been much influence and affected by changed circumstances of the valley, have seen little or no change at all as regards to their mode of expression of joy or sorrow. The moyings living in the banks of Jiabharali river are not quite familiar with oi-nitoms so popular amongst all other groups of Misings living elsewhere. Instead, they have stuck to age-old ‘Aabe’-a recitation in prose which cannot be considered musical by any standard. How ever vogue in the Adi hills also. But the ‘aabe’ of the Adis are related to the institution of ‘Kebang’.

Innumerable Oi-nitoms that now available are the contributions of many an unknown illiterate Mising poets composed over centuries, memorized and passed over from lips to lips across the Brahmaputra valley. Of fate attempts have been made to serialize these fragmentary ehapsodies to certain volumes.