*RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND PRACTISES AMONG THE MISINGS OF NORTHEAST INDIA

The traditional religion practices of the Misings are based on three major belief system:-
First, about the creator of the universe,
Second, existence of spirits around human habitats and
Thirds, about of human soul.

The Misings believe that the universe was created by supreme heavenly power defined as ‘SEDI BA:BU’( SEDI the Father)and ‘MELO NANC’(MELO the Mother) and considered themselves as the progenies of the Sun(DO:NYI ANC i.e. Sun Mother) and the Moon(PO:LO ABU i.e. Moon Father). These deities are held to be omnipotent, omnipresent and always benevolent to mankind. Therefore, on every occasion of social and religious function, the Misings offer prayer first to these deities. In fact, no auspicious functions starts without the names of ‘SEDI MELO’ and ‘DO:NYI PO:LO’.

It is believe that the forest, river, streams, water, ponds and other physical surrounding of human habitats are infested by some spirits which they call ‘UIE’. The ‘UIE’S’ are held responsible for all kinds of maladies of man. Death, disease, destruction, misfortunes etc. are attributed to the evil eyes and desire of these spirits. Therefore, proprietary rituals are perform whenever necessary to keep these spirits satisfied or warded off from casting evils on man.

Some of the spirits are known by their usual abode such as ‘YUMRANG UIE’, spirits that live in forest, ’TALENG UIE’, spirits that live above the earth i.e. eternal atmosphere. ‘ASI UIE’, spirits that live in water and so on. Each type of spirits is believed to cause particular types of problem and this is detected by the ‘MIBU’, who is the traditional priest and seer of the Misings. Whenever a person falls ill or meets misfortune or catastrophy a ‘MIBU’ is called in to determine the spirits responsible for the problem. On detection of the spirits, appropriate ritual is performed to propitiate it according to the advice and suggestion of the ‘’MIBU’. There are of course, other method of diagnosing the spirits causing illness for, which ‘MIBU’ is not always necessary but in case of prolonged illness or occurrence of unnatural death or destruction of cattle or crops ‘MIBU’ is called in. there is also a concept of clan deity prevalent among the Misings. This is known as ‘GUMVN SO:YIN’ which is believed to be residing in each house of the families belonging to the same clan and protecting the family from all kinds of dangers and difficulties that may be caused by the evil spirits which roam around the homes and huts all the times. Thus, each family performs a ritual for the satisfaction of the “GUMVN SO”YIN” generally every year.

The next foundation of traditional Mising religion is the belief about human soul and its immortality. They belief that soul is the life, and death is the departure of the soul from the body. The moments the soul leaves the body death occurs to it.

The Misings call the soul “YALO” which also means shade. In sunshine, a man is followed by his shade everywhere and anywhere. The Misings conceive it as an accompaniment of soul in form of shade. As soon as man dies, his shade is lost from the earth. It means the soul has departed from him and assumes the form of spirit, for the soul does not find another human body where it can re-enter. Thus it remains outside mundane human world, but not necessarily forgetting the past so soon. The Misings believe that human soul does not go away too far from the dead mans home until and unless he is prayed to leave the family for good by performing the last ritual called “DODGANG” in which food and drink are offered to the departing soul as well as to the gathering relatives, neighbours and friends who come to pay homage and prayer to the departing soul. After the death of a person, the Misings perform a ritual called “UROM APIN” for departing soul within a month or so. This is performed in the belief that the departed soul does not lose all the mundane desires so soon. The desires therefore must be fulfilled before the soul departs from the earth to eternity.

Besides these major functions, a few more rituals are performed by individual Mising families according to their need and tradition.
TO BE CONTINUE…

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