The Misings officially recorded as MIRI in the list of scheduled tribes of India under constitution order 1950, are originally a hill tribe of the Himalayan region of North eastern India. Either for their better wisdom or in their necessity of cultivable land, they migrated down along the Siyang river in several small groups in different period of history. It is believed that the first group of Misings landed in the upper region of the valley sometime between 13th and 14th century A.D., when the area around Sadiya was ruled by the Chutia kings.
The Mising belongs in general to the Tibeto-Burman family of the great Mongoloid race.
Here in the Brahmaputra valley amidst the alien communities and faith. The Misings had to adapt themselves to the new environment and changed social circumstance, and thus there grew up a new social order along the courses of the Brahmaputra, subonsiri , Ronganadi, Buroi, and Bhoroli river in the northern side and the confluence of Dibru, Dihing, Disang, Dikhow and Dhansiri river in the south. The name ‘MIRI’ was given to them, evidently by the plains people, but the always preferred to be known by their own name “MISING”.
By faith. The Misings are worshippers of ‘DO:NYI’ (Sun) and ‘PO:LO’ (Moon), but they cannot be possibly called “animist” either, in the general meaning of the term. It is noteworthy that they refer ‘DO:NYI’ as ‘Ane-Donyi’ (Mother Sun) and ‘PO:LO’ as ‘Abu-Po:lo’ (Father Moon) meaning thereby the Sun is the female cosmic principle and the moon the male cosmic principle comparable to ‘Prakriti’ and ‘Purush’ of Vedantic Philosophy. After creation of this earth, air, water etc. ‘Sedi-melo’-the supreme power, created ‘Do:nyi’ and ‘Po:lo’ and man. And then they stood apart leaving ‘Do:nyi’ and ‘Po:lo’ to take care of mankind. Hence, the Misings worship ‘Do:nyi-Po:lo’ as their supreme deities and consider them above all other lesser gods-“Uii”. Illness and misfortunes are attributed to these lesser gods ‘Uii’ which have to be kept appeased by offering pork, chicken and ‘Apong’ time to time.
However, after long sojourn in the plains, their beliefs and thoughts have been influence largely by the teaching of Hinduism. Besides, the epic stories of Mahabharata and Ramayana are so ingrained in their minds that no other religion other than Hinduism could find a better ground to flourish. Nevertheless, the caste system, the very root of Hinduism is alien to there social system that had come down from hoary past. As a result, in spite of their constant exposure to various religious institutions of the valley, they have their firm anchorage in the age old beliefs and traditions.
No doubt there are many ardent devotees of various religious institutions of the valley also. But old beliefs die hard and pork, chicken and Apong are freely used in all functions like “Midang”,”Ali-aye-ligang” and ‘Po:rag’ etc. it is a must in some religious rites like ‘Urom’, ‘Dodgang’,’Dobur’,’Kusag’ etc. of the many cultural functions.
The Misings have distinctive Mongoloid features like yellow skin, somewhat flat nose, prominent cheekbone, scanty beared, etc. they are thickly built sturdy people with jovial disposition. Though they have somewhat resilient nature capable of adapting themselves to any circumstances; but they stick to their decision with much tenacity. After long exposure to the subtropical sun in the valley, their skins have now sunburn-brown color, but faces with very fair complexion is not a rarity, particularly among the younger age group.
They are lovers of music and dance and the Mising girls dance somewhat sexual bihu dance with great spirit, and they have a dance of theirs own which is quite free from this sensuality.
The banks of the Subansiri and Brahamaputra reverberate with melodious ‘ Oi-nitom’ and ‘Kaban’. The ‘Kaban’ has a melancholic expression, mostly related to love-lost, an air of dejection blended into its melody and as such they are rightly called ‘Kaban’(Lamentation) example:
Pckv toma:nc, Pctta toma:nc,
Alab toma:nc, lapla toma:nc
Oi-nom Ka:lvngko ka:la toma:nc-
Meaning- I could not be a dove, nor, I posses the wings of birds, neither I could fly nor I could see my beloved. This invariably reminds the listeners the same feeling of dissolutaness.
On the other hand, Oi-nitom‘ is popular for its rhythmic beauty and colorful similes, compossed on anything that inspires their imaginations, ranging from expression of deep sorrows of separation to lighthearted satires.
Sagvvlai kapiyen, miksidvlai kapiyen
Mc:nam oimc pa:ma:mvl turradu:lai kapiyen?
Meaning: what for these sighs, what for these tears, what worth this life even, if I cannot have the sweet company my beloved.
The ‘a:bangs’ are a class by itself, comparable only to the slokas of Sanskrit literature. It exists in the memory of a special class of people called ‘Mibu’ in Misings. The ‘A:bangs’
Narrate the stories of distanr past.
According to an ‘A:bang’, the discovery of fire is attributed to “SIDANG” and “DASHING” the forefathers of Misings”
siding kolokkc, dashing kolokkc,
Sori mctkiyem tvkkang kvtoncm
Mctpu pudorc dorgc kane…..
Meaning: it was in the days of ‘sidang’ and ‘Dashing’, the fire sparked off from dry piece of wood when spurned with a rope.
Some ‘a:bangs’ narrate even the beginning of this Universe. According to them, in the beginning there was nothing but a state of being or not being. It says:
Mi kamangai, miming kamangai
Do:nyi kamangai, po:lo kamangai,
Vmmc kamangai, assc kamangai
Sedibabu bottcbv cdcm ru:lentonc
Meaning: no man was there, nor any matter was there; no sun nor moon was there, there was no fire, nor water. But ‘sedibabu’ the great lord created them all.