The Mishing tribe is the second largest tribe among the other tribes of North- East India. The Mishing belongs to Yilueto- Burmese group, sub- race of Mongoloid race. In Assam their habitat is mainly confined in the district of Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Sonitpur, Golaghat, Jorhat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh and in some areas of Arunachal Pradesh. The people of this tribe have been choosing agriculture as their main occupation. Traditionally Mishing people live near the bank of river and they build their "Chang Ghar" with the help of timber bamboo, thatch, etc for comfort living.
Language and subgroups of Mishing tribe:
The language used by the Mishing people is known as "Mishing language". It belongs to the Yileto- Burma family of language. However all Mishing people can speak Assamese language also.
Mishing tribe is divided into two groups,-"Degdoong" and "Dagdok". Mishing people live in the North bank of river Brahmaputra generally belongs to Degdoong group, while who leaving in South bank of river Brahmaputra belong to Dagtok group. It is easy to identify whether he or she is belonging to Degdoong or Daktok group from his / her surname. On the basis of the dialect used by the Mishing people the tribe is also sub- divided as "Pa:gro , "Sa:yang" , Mo:ying" and "Samuguri". These dialect of these sub- group differ from each other in pronounciation, sentence formation, word- usage etc. The people belong to Samuguri sub-group do not speak any Mishing dialect,, but speak Assamese.
Mishing surname reflect the clan they belong to and they are divided into three main clans -"Mili", "Pegu", and "Doley". The classification of brotherhood is special feature of Mishing tribe. The "Patir" and "Lagachu" are regarde as brother of "Pegu" and "Kutum". "Kulis" are regarded as brother of "Milis". The classification of brotherhood was made primarily for marital reasons. Clans belong to "Pegu" brotherhood are not to marry within the clans. Same rule is applicable to "Mili" and "Doley" brotherhood. However there is an another clan that can freely marry within either "Mili" and "Pegu" subgroups. Surnames like "Panging", "Morang", "Payeng" etc belong to this group. Marriage between people having same surname is taboo.
Colourful attire of Mishing tribe:
Mishing tribe, one of the branches of Assamese, secure highest position in making colourful attires. Mishing women are expert in weaving and making colourful dresses. The colourful traditional attires that Mishing ladies wear are -"Yakan Age-Gasar", (Black Mekela Sadar), "Ribi Gasor" (Sadar), "Gero" (Pothali kapur). The traditional dress of man of this tribe are "Gonro ugon" (Dhuti), "Mibu galuk" (shirt), "Dumer (Gamucha) etc.
Festivals of Mishing tribe:
Mishing people are easy going, very simple living and are fond of festivals. The main festival is "Ali-Aye-Ligang" which is the most colourful spring festival held every year on first Wednesday of the month "Gimur polo"(Feb-March). The festival is mainly related to agriculture. "Ali" means root and seeds, "Aye" means fruit and "Ligang" means sown. On the day of celebration of "Ali-Aye-Ligang" sowing of paddy is started. People wear traditional dresses on the day of celebrating the festival. All people gathered in the festival, dance by stepping, flinging, flapping of handsand swaging of hips reflecting youthful passion. Food items like "Poro Apong" (rice beer), "Nogin Apong"(black beer), pork and dry fish are essential for the feast in the festival. The festival continues for five days. During this festival certain taboos with respect to cutting bushes, fishing, ploughing, burning jungles are strictly prohibited.
Culture and religious faith of Mishing tribe:
The Mishing way of life is reflecting in their folk tales and songs. These have been going on for generation after generation as message among the people. The folk song and tales narrate their lifestyle of their ancestors. "Oinitom" are the famous folk song of the Mishing used as a media of sending personal message among themselves. The Mishing youths express their love and affection toward their beloved by singing "Oinitom".
They believe the Sun (Do:nyi) as their mother and, the Moon (Po:lo) as their father. Recently, this belief has been organised as Do:nyi Po:lo Yélam, literally meaning Do:nyi Po:lo religion. Many Mishings has converted to Do:nyi Po:lo Yélam recently. But now most Mishings follow Hinduism along with their age old religious rituals, and there are a few Christians who follow the Catholic or Baptist faith. It has also been verified that some have converted to Islam.
For the prevention of unknown diseases they worship their ancestors with "pujas" like "Dalevar", "Dotgang", "Uram", "Apin" etc. They also worship their ancestors for protecting their farm and families from damage and misfotunes. They believe that the evil spirits which cause sickness or misfortunes are looking around the "Adi-uyu"(mountains), "Yumrang"(forest) etc. To protect themselves from these evil spirits they worship by the village experts. At the time of performing the "Dabur puja" they construct a gate at they main entrance of the village. The gate is a sign of caution to the outsiders so that no outsiders can enter into the village at the time of the puja. The annual ancestor worship (Urum-posum) is a common feature of Mishing tribe for health and happiness of the family members.