- Lovita J R Morang
The Earth has just one moon. In ancient times people used the moon to measure the passing of the months.
In 1953, Clair Cameron Patterson, a renowned geochemist at the California Institute of Technology, measured ratios of lead isotopes in samples of the meteorite that put tight constraints on Earth's age. Samples of the meteorite showed that it was 4.53 billion to 4.58 billion years old.
Scientifically it has been proven that Earth is estimated to be 4.54 billion years old. Scientists have scoured the Earth searching for the oldest rocks to radio metrically date both earthly and extraterrestrial to determine the age of the Earth, meteorite, the moon and of the solar system.
Today as we enter the digital age where AI is taking over the basic chores, crippling at the same time our physique and intelligence. People will not henceforth look forward to the posterity or look backward to their ancestors. It is this detachment that shall free us, and pull us back from trying to know more.
Legends and ancestors: No matter where one’s ancestry originated each tribe has a historicity of legend of its origin and historical truth about their migration. All these are matter of research. Societal values add richness to the cultures of the world that are unique to individual regions.
The Missings are known as worshippers of nature. They revere Donyi-Polo. Ane Donyi (Ane means Mother) and Abo Polo (Abo means Father), Polo means Moon). These are their supreme deities. The belief system of the Abotanis is all about tall tales of creation of universe. Their imagination, their curiosity, their myth has provided the elements of existence of universe that are very much embedded in the old age traditions and tales of racial migrations. Their racial history can be traced from their rituals, customs and festivals.
The treasures of Abangs, repository of myths and essential features of oral traditions are elaborately embedded in Abangs, the oldest tradition in the course of migration. Crossing 18,518 sq. km of eastern Himalayas, the rugged terrain, labyrinth of precipitous, rocky mountain, graphite deposits, micaceous materials, ferrous minerals, sulphide mineralization etc. are still a treasure to marvel.
The tectonic settings of the great Himalayan mountain ranges made the structural geology and different forces have led to the formation of faults, thrusts and complicated weak zones that have sliced the plateaus. These features allows us to reconstruct the pictures of early Mongloid movements on the soil of India as they enter Assam, Since their advent before 1000 B.C., the Aryans obtained the mountain produce, medicinal herbs and other soma plants and from the dedication of Kirata to the caves in Vajasaneyi Samhita and from the reference in the Atharva Veda to a Kirata girl named Kairatika, who finds and dig a herbal remedy on the ridges of the mountain, which finds its mention in the four books of vedas in all likelihood in the 10th century B.C.
Mahabharata and Ramayana were taking shape between 500 BC to 400 AD. As per Dr. S.K.Chatterji the Tanis finds mention and reasonably identifies with the Kirata. The Misings are believed to have come down from heaven, holding golden creepers from Tsangpo to Siang to Brahmaputra valley within the domain of the Mahabharata in the abode of Kiratas. Kirata are Indian tribes of Mongloid origin. They are described in Mahabharata as pleasant looking, gold-like, yellow in colour. Kiratas are dwellers of the Himalayan region. These early settlers were identified as Kirata by the Vedic Aryans. According to some Indologists, the term Kirata occured first in the Yajurveda and subsequently in the Atharvaveda, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and other ancient scriptures. Kiratas are believed to belong to Indo-Mongloid tribes of the Himalayas and the North Eastern India.
The Sabha Parva Book II of the Mahabharata testifies that during the Battle of Kurukshetra in 900 BC King Bhagadatta of Pragjyotisha (Kamarupa Assam), Shailalaya raja the mighty king whose home was in the hills took part in the battle with his army of Kiratas. It is stated that the Kirata troops appeared like the forest of Karnikaras with yellow flowers.
Hiuen Tsang, the great Chinese traveller who came to Assam during the rule of Bhaskaravarman in 642 AD observed the manners of the people as simple and honest. Verrier Elyin begins with a prelude that history of Tanis ascends for hundreds of years into the mists of Tradition and mythology. Buranjis, the written records of Ahoms, also contain a wealth of information about the Kiratas.
History will not allow us to forget the great earthquake of August 15, 1950 that caused severe damages to human habitation, created chasm, gapping fissures in the Brahmaputra valley. Lush green valleys, rivulets of the richest biodiversity of the world was destroyed beyond recognition.
The great Misings of North-east India, one of the second largest indigenous tribes of Assam has carried on the legacy of being the most tolerant of Tani origin. They were proud of their identity as the inhabitants of valleys of mighty river Brahmaputra. There strong presence was felt on the banks of rivers and islands from the great Himalayas to the valley of mighty Brahmaputra.
Extent and exact sources of information may fail to provide a comprehensive account of prehistoric and ethnological stages of the Abotanis but knowledge is traceable about the tribal tradition, trade and treasures. Tales from time immemorial are etched in mythological accounts and oral tradition of the Abotanis, the father of mankind,
Today we are a digital generation of 21st century yet evidences from Vedic scriptures mention the stories of early migration of the Mongloids before 1000 B.C. Today tribal settlements are scattered all over Brahmaputra valley and are celebrating the bond of ethnic unity as a mark on toponymy of the valley. Toponymic evidences prove the frequent occurrence of deeper penetrations of tribes such as Bodos, Kacharis by rivers like Dihing, Dihong (Presumably known by its Austric name Hong meaning water) the Bodos renamed the river by prefixing di with hong, Disang, Diphang. The children of Abotanis continued to remain in scriptures and administrative records because they succeeded in forming a distinctive social structure.
What has bound this social structure is the golden threads of the legacy the children of Abotanis have carried on, thriving well with the blessings of their ancestors. They invoke their ancestors with firm faith and remembrance in their festivals when fagun air blows reminding
The term tribalism implies the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates one member of a group from the members of another group. Based on strong relations of proximity and kinship, members of a tribe tend to possess a strong feeling of identity.
Mising were migrants, and known to be progressive tribe settled in a scattered manner on fertile lands by the mighty Brahmaputra. Lores lend us the belief that Mising came down from heaven holding the golden creeper from heaven. And on earth their gold-washing capability from rivers of Dihang, Siang to Brahmaputra have earned them title as gold washer and great negotiators of Britishers and the tribes of the land.
Myth to reality the transition has helped Misings to reach this far.
What has kept the beauty of the Abotani tradition alive is the oral tradition. Without any script the richness of literature thrives in Abangs which is both religious and secular depiction of the essence of survival and struggles of Tanis and most importantly, about the creation of the universe. Today, initiatives are taken by many intellectuals of the community and are making an attempt to revive the written archaic language of Abangs written by Miris, the priest, which may not appear decipherable by the uninitiated layman. Abangs are like the Puranas of the Sanskrit literature and sagas of Teutons. Social issues were addressed in kebang. Kebang is a Traditional council of village elders. The village councils are self-governing institutions, enjoy good deal of autonomy in judicial, administrative and development matters, exercising authority at village level. They render important services in settling of disputes both civil and criminal matters. Administration of justice regulations,1945 (Regulation I of 1945) is how archaic is debatable.
Right of ownership implies use and management of land. Under the provisions of the Sadiya Frontier Tract, Regulation 4 of 1947, the customary right of any members of a village or a community to cultivate is respected. Individual ownership over land under permanent or semi- permanent cultivation and land attached to dwelling house is recognised. Ownership varies from clan to clan and individual land.
Flowing along the river Tsangpo to river Siang and through various tributaries that meet forming a great confluence the only male river in the world mighty river Brahmaputra. These rivers have been the testimony to the tales the transmigrational occured through trans Himalayan geographical importance The Misings have traversed. The trans- Brahmaputra tribes have cultural affinities, the village organizations, cultural and agricultural practices, religious beliefs, art, weaving, skill, livestock.
Mising women are weavers of dream. They weave dreams in the dress they weave. Inspired by nature and nature's elements they skillfully weave birds, butterfly, flowers and stories are depicted in the gamik means the motif and patterns they design. Today the clothes have made mark both internationally and commercially shell out to the market with high market value as substantial income for the woven traditional materials.
Social status of the Misings both men and women with liberal attitudes have played a great role in upholding both domestic duties, responsibilities, as a caregiver and most importantly, upholding the socio-economic and religious life. Being from agrarian background, both men and women had to work together in the field right from the beginning of cultivation to harvesting.
Education has enabled Mising women to be financially independent. They are mostly seen today as civil servants, engineers, doctors, politician, authors, filmmakers, which is a good indication of a progressive society. For example the tapum gasor Rs. 1000 Rs onwards, Ri-bi Ganseng, Kebbung ege-gasor cost Rs.3000 onwards. Gadu (inspired from jackfruit it's a fluffy heavy blanket) cost Rs. 5000 though rare now. These are the initiatives taken at an individual level. Economy is the approved trademark of a developed nation. As the world enters into a global era, even the well being of community depends much on commerce. Good economic conditions facilitates the progress of not only the community but the nation as well.
Celebration comes to instill spirit, to not only remind of the ancestral blessings to keep the community in harmony. Festivals are the reflections of such beauty of human wonders that harmonious habitation has proved its richness of culture, of heritage. It's a matter of pride that the present generation of Mising have the never failed to uphold the preciousness and piousness of Tradition.
Ali-Aye-Ligang is not only a festival to rejoice or a festival of dance, song. But, the underlying meaning has a humane message as a reminder to understand, love and follow the divine law and rules of nature. Ali means seeds, the root, Aye means fruits and Ligang means to sow.
There in the auspicious arrival of the spring season on the first Wednesday of February the Mising community declare the arrival of spring by the first seed sowing ritual as a mark of beginning of the festival with blessings, showing and expressing dutiful reverence of various deities like kine nane, dadi botey and most importantly the Donyi-Polo. The (Ane) Mother Sun is the sign of fertility and (Abu)Father Polo as a dispeller of darkness invoking ancestral blessings to carry on the well being of mankind. Therefore, the children of Abotani, the first man, the father have proved to be the progressive proginators, who could keep the faith, belief, richness of tradition and heritage alive on par with challenges of digital era that shall not surpass the beauty of natural intelligence the Mising community possess as a progressive community. As a worshipper of nature and believer in the theory of creation of the universe, the belief system instilled in the minds by ancestral blessings couldn't depart from the minds of the Misings that has morphed a magnificent living on Aamong (the earth) for the river-bank dwellers. The beauty of this living is the culmination of this cultural significance that has proved the objective reality of Mising Life.