Mikir - Religion and Expressive Culture



Religious Beliefs. The Mikir acknowledge the existence of a number of divinities, though temples, shrines, and other places and objects of worship are lacking in their villages. Worship is not directed toward trees or animals. Individuals may be in the possession of bor (amulets or fetishes) of stone or metal that are believed capable of bringing good or bad luck. The gods are called upon and animals sacrificed to ensure good fortune and to avoid negative circumstances. Some of the more important members of the Mikir pantheon are: Arnam Kethe, the "Great God," who, though a household god, actually lives in Heaven and receives sacrifice once in three years; Peng, a household god who actually resides within the home; Hemphu, the "householder," who "owns" all of the Mikir people; Rek-anglong, the local deity identified with the hill upon which a village is located; and Arnam Paro, the "hundred god," who is, perhaps, a composite figure made up of all of the gods who are a prominent part of the annual Rongker festival. In addition to the aforementioned gods, there are others (e.g., Chomang-ase, "Khasi fever"; Ajo-ase, "night fever"; and So-mene, "evil pain") who are identified with specific diseases. In addition, natural features of an impressive nature (e.g., sun, moon, mountains, waterfalls) have divinities identified with them, though those of a celestial nature are not the objects of propitiatory sacrifice. Christianity has had little impact on the world view of the Mikir. Evidence of Hindu influence, however, may be noted.

Religious Practitioners. The diviner is the major Mikir Religious practitioner. The generic designation for the office is uche, when held by a male, or uche-pi, when held by a female. Of these there are two classes. The first is the sang-kelang abang, or "man who looks at rice," who exercises this office after a period of instruction and practice. The second is the lodet or lodet-pi, a female practitioner who dispatches her Duties while under the influence of supernatural forces.

Ceremonies. Communal celebrations include the following: the Rongker (annual village festival held either at the Beginning of the cultivation season in June or in the cold season); a harvest-home celebration; and the occasional Rongker-pi ("great Rongker") held on special occasions (e.g., to expel man-eating tigers) and attended by an entire mauza. Several ritualized behavioral restrictions (called gennas in Assamese) are also observed.

Arts. In addition to articles that have a utilitarian or ornamental purpose (e.g., domestic utensils, clothing, and jewelry), musical instruments are also produced. Music and dancing are said to accompany the harvest-home celebration and burial rites. Tattooing is also practiced by Mikir women (a perpendicular line applied with indigo extending from the middle of the forehead to the chin). The oral literature of the Mikir includes myths and folktales.

Medicine. Prolonged illness is believed to be caused either by witchcraft or the malevolent action of supernaturals. The services of male and female diviners (the sang-kelang abang and the lodet or lodet-pi, respectively) are required to alleviate the malady, by discerning who has cast the spell or what the divine forces are that need to be propitiated.

Death and Afterlife. The burial cult of the Mikir is designed to insure that the deceased gain entrance into the underworld abode of the dead, which is ruled by Jom Recho, the "Lord of Spirits." Those whose burials are not accompanied by the proper ceremonies do not gain admittance. The deceased remain in Jom-arong, "Jom's town," until they are reborn on Earth as children. This belief in reincarnation is an apparent borrowing from the Hindu neighbors of the Mikir.

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Chikari Tisso
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Sep 16, 2012 @ 7:07 am
Being a Karbi(then Mikir)I could realize whole the things narrated in the notes above found almost correct. Some spelling errors are found. Any way I hope this notes will be a great help to the new generation researchers.

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