Marriage related words in Miju Mishmi language

Last week I learned few words in Mishmi language from a friend who is looking forward to get married soon. I noted down for me to learn and know a bit better about their culture.

1. kmaitlat to take a wife
2. homaitakhat to take a daughter-in-law
3. humai boy/bridegroom
4. hu girl/bride
5. kitsa my son-in-law
6. kintsa our son-in-law
7. kao father-in-law
8. nayi mather-in-law
9. waibayihi theila went to the boy’s house, meaning eloped
10. pharaikhathei the persons as go between boy’s and girl’s families after the elopement. This delegation is always sent from the man’s side. They are responsible to negotiate the demands of the girl’s parents and settle the date for the boy and girl to visit the girl’s parents.
11. boyitanam literally “first entry” meaning the boy and girl visit the girl’s parents for the first time after the elopement. Usually, they bring pigs that are to be eaten while they are together. Girl’s parents pay for whatever they bring. If the party brought several pigs and mithuns, then it is called ngit, the final marriage party.
12. li krang tanam boyitanam is li krang tanam when the party bring live pigs.
13. ngit literally “price” meaning the bride price. This is main party and culmination of the marriage negotiation. After that the process of incorporating the newly wedded couple into the society and families is over.  Payment of price is by mithuns and cattles.


Miju Mishmi


Photo courtesy: The Hindu

The Miju Mishmi is also called Kaman or Kammaan. They number 35,000 (Britannica) and are one of the three Mishmi tribes.  The tribe primarily lives in Lohit and Anjaw Districts. The Ethnologue said they live in 25 villages.

More specifically the people live in several villages along the Deban to Zero road. An unpublished research report of Samuel Nelson[i] says, “The Miju Mishmis are distributed in the relatively higher altitudes of the eastern part of Lohit district. Their territory includes the upper Lohit and Dau Valleys; the area to the east of the Hayuliang, Billong, and Tilai valleys; and the southern part of Lohit district. Some of them are settled in and around Tezu city.” Wikipedia located the area of Miju between the Lohit and Kambang Rivers right upto the Rima Frontiers.

Their area has several attractive locations. The first is the sacred Hindu site, Parasuramkunda, near Wakro town has attracted thousands of devotees each year. The highway from Chowkham is planned to be extended that worship place. The second is Glow Lake located at the origin of the Kamlang River. Then there is Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary, now almost reduced to cultivation. And then the Namdapha National Park at the Southern part of their territory.

A good description about the area and notes from bird lovers.

Some Highlights

One of the distinctions about the tribe is rearing of Mithuns. Other than Nyishi and Adis in the western and middle of the State, perhaps Mishmis are the only tribe that keeps this State animal. These huge animals are reared mostly in jungle, few in villages. They are expensive and serve primarily for two purposes: bride price and for sacrifice. Over three mithuns are paid for a bride. Depending on the importance of the occasion, mithuns are sacrificed.  A short article on Mithuns.

Another limelight is being the largest cardamom producing area in the State. The Economic Times has this statistic “Anjaw produced 150 metric tonnes of the spice with a financial turnover of Rs nearly 12 crore during the financial year 2010-11.”  Now this spice plantation extended to almost every Mishmi inhabited village.

Their area is also known for producing large quantities of oranges. Traveling along the Deban to Zero you will lots of huge gardens of oranges. Farmers obtain much of their revenues from this cultivation. A news item reported about the income from oranges and the changes in lifestyle it brought. One person earned as much Rs 45 lakhs per year! The fruit is transported to Karimganj, Bangladesh.

A Major Issue

The major problem seems to be the addiction to opium. One person, Razzeko Dele, wrote at AP Times about its impact in the Mishmi Hills. Few extracts from this article: Opium has become a treat… has been using for 150 years… no wonder users and producers increased… has accepted as part of their culture. Really a big predicament that affected the whole of society in their health and income.

[i] Samuel, Nelson. 2001. The Mishmi of Arunachal Pradesh: a brief survey (Unpublished research report).