Study on magico-religious plants in Mising tribe of Assam, India
Plants are traditionally utilized in various magico-religious beliefs of the Mising tribe in Assam, India. The present study attempted to document the utilization of plants in magico-religious practices, their valuation and prioritization based on importance and conservation priority and to assess the plant knowledge based on age and gender. It was studied from December 2014 to December 2017 through questionnaire survey and informal interviews. The data were collected from 80 informants belonging to 15 villages of three selected districts of Assam, India i.e. Dhemaji, Lakhimpur and Sonitpur. Overall, 63 plant species belonging 56 genera and 31 families were used in magico-religious practices. Poaceae was the dominant family and leaves were the dominant among plant parts. Sacred and religious rites (SAR), taboo (TAB) and magical belief system (MAG) were three major use categories. Of these, SAR was the dominant use category with 47 spp. SAR use category had the highest Fic value with 0.977 followed by MAG and TAB. No significant difference in plant knowledge was observed among three age groups i.e., young (<40 years), adults ( 40 to < 60 years) and old ( 60 years). The women had significantly higher plant knowledge than men in two use categories (MAG and TAB) and also in over all categories. The valuation of magico-religious plants was done based on cultural importance index wherein Brassica juncea had the highest CI index i.e., 1.401 followed by Mangifera indica, Areca catechu etc. Areca catechu and Gossypium arboreum were ranked 1st in MIS and SCP respectively. The present study is not intended to endorse the utilization of the magico-religious plants in a manner reported above; however, the study may lead to further detailed scientific investigation of the species.
Assam; Cultural Importance Index; Magico-religious practice; Most Important Species, Plants
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