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.
- Folk Song.
- Folk Tale.
The folk songs can be again sub-grouped into-
- Devotional song.
- Love Song.
- Song of lamentation.
- 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.
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.
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.