Enlightenment and the Mising Culture

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Dr. Rajeev Doley
Deputy Director (Training & Placement)
Tezpur University

Interactions among various ethnic groups have, in fact, always been a significant feature of social life. Contact among various societies over time result in change of culture and language. Contacts may have distinct results, such as the borrowing of certain traits or language by one culture from another, or the relative fusion of separate cultures. Early studies of acculturation reacted against the predominant trend of trying to reconstruct cultures of presumably isolated societies. Such works were found faulty for implying that various cultural groups enjoyed an unchanging, pre-contact period. Such studies of contact called attention to resulting social and individual psychological disturbances. Studies today often call attention to the development of one complex world system, in which some societies dominate others economically, politically, socially and linguistically. Many cultural theorists also observe the ways in which cultural groups resist domination and often working against acculturation.

The Misings did not accept cultural cross-over for a long period even after they migrated to and settled down in the Brahmaputra valley. It was only in the 18th century that they gradually began to accept the cultural elements of the plains people and as this contact continued with an increasing trend for at least three centuries today, a sort of syncretism prevails in the Mising culture where the subordinate group (Mising) has moulded elements of the dominant culture and language (Assamese) to fit its own traditions. At the same time, this fitting of cultural and linguistic elements cannot be called an assimilation, because, the involved elements do not combine to form a new culture. Here it may be called misingisation of such elements. For example, ‘Pitang’ which comes from the Assamese word ‘Pitha’ is a food item normally used...
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