Member of Mishing community had never become ruler of any sovereign state in the historical era. But they had strong administrator in the village level even in the ancient times. Each village was headed by a Gam. The Gam was virtually controlling all matters relating to social, judicial and general administration of the village. Members of the village council or Dohlung Kebang, a judicial body, were appointed by the Gam.
The post of Gam was dynastically inherited by the ruling class.But, not necessarily the eldest son of the rulers’ house should occupy the hot seat. The crown may go to his juniors if the elder fail to qualify for the post. The Gam should have an unwavering health with sound head and steady mind, enshrined with pleasing personality. He should know customary law and past chronicle of the society, its culture and tradition.
When the Mishing people migrated to the Miri Hills from Western China in the early first century B.C., reportedly some through Tibet and other from Upper Burma, the mountain country was nothing but a conglomeration of independent villages; i.e., each sect of the community occupied one village. Inter-village relationship was usually established through matrimonial alliances due to exogamous system. Miri Hills or the Miri country was a set of homogeneous administrative units having no common ruler for the land. Thus the concept of Ancient Mishing Nationality was merely concept narrowly confined within the village boundary.But it had far-reaching impact.
Mishing social system and self-sufficient economic organism had long sustaining outcome in the society. Agriculture has been the main source of economic sustenance through out the generation. At constrained situation, a family could call upon the village militia for helping in his farming activity, the arrangement is known as reegbo bonam. There was no specific name for their religion, but in all their devotional ceremonies the Mibu was accepted as the High Priest and under his guidance the holistic services were performed.
The systems were carried forward even when they moved down to the plains of Assam at the beginning of thirteenth century of the last millennium. Due to solid foundation of their social network, stable economic resources and unique religious practices, the Mishing people could uphold their characteristic entity, as a separate community within Indian nationality, even with the blizzard of political upheaval took place at different period of times. Their liberal approach of social stand had the kind of inclusiveness, protectiveness and progressiveness, which attracted more people of other races to the so called Ancient Mishing Nationality.
There are several evidences of coterminous races being fused their identity into the Mishing mainstream. The highland tribe viz., Aka, Dafla, Abor, Miri, Mishmi, Singphou and Khamtis who descended to the river basins of Assam from their respective hill countries at different point of times on different grounds settled down in the plains with Mishing identity. Akas of Akajan area, Aka Basti in Sonitpur district, Daflas of Daflakata borough, Khamtis of Gogamukh neighborhood and Abors of Pahdam village are a few of the living instances who adopted Ancient Mishing Nationality in the traceable past.
They joined into the Mishing mainstream with national pride and promptness; that gradually intonated their spoken dialect into Mishing accent and took the mainstream culture as their own. In the same alacrity Samugurias, Bonkuwals, Bihias merged to the Mishing fold in the unknown past with entire Mishing customs except however the language. Also, oral chronicles tells us that when the once powerful Nara kingdom precipitated crumbling on the close heel of Ahom adventure, the ethnic population of the kingdom identified themselves as the member of the Ancient Mishing Nationality.
Today urban citizen of the Mishing community, both young and old, remain indifferent to the great cultural wisdom of our past - albeit humble root but bright perspectives. Sadly, similar apathetic attitude is steadily surfacing in the rural areas too. The state of downsizing drift is highly deplorable. We should put our concerted efforts to reverse this decaying and disintegrating trend. Mishings are not the lost tribe of the ancient world, unworthy of regeneration. We are very much a community of vibrant culture with diverse roots, united in one name: Mishing.
Mishing Renaissance is greatful to Mr.Peter Pegu for the contribution of the above article.