The Nishis, also called Nishangs in the upper areas are believed to belong to the Tibeto-Mongoloid stock. All Nishis trace their descent from legendary ancestor, ABOTANI, whose sons are believed to have been the fore father of three groups of clans known as DOPUM, DODUM and DAL respectively. The Nishis, inhabitants of the western half of the district, are migrated from northern area beyond Khru and Kime river.
They are well-built, fair in complexion and medium to tall in physical structure. Some of them have good knowledge of business. Their houses are made of thatch, bamboo and timber.Each of these main groups (Dopum, Dodum and Dal) is sub-divided into phratries and exogamous clans and there are area where clan of all these three main groups live side by side. Nishi family is patriarchal and polygamy is practised. Mithuns are essential part of the bribe price for marriage. Their house are dispersed over the hill-side and they live in small scattered villages. Most of their dwelling houses are long with many hearths accomodating as many as five to six households belonging to a common lineage. Families may join or leave a village at their will from one village to the other.
The Nishis observe a number of ceremonies in the villages. The important community festival is known as NYOKUM, performed once in a year in the month of February. During this festival the priests devote days together to pray the supreme being. Men and women rejoice by dancing, singing and feasting as part of the ceremony.The Nishis too have a number of songs and dances for different socio-religions festivals.
Rikam Pada Dance

The RIKAM-PADA is the most popular and important song and dance of Nishi community. The significance of Nyokum festival is to ensure better cultivation, protect the grains from natural calamities and also for the prosperity of the villagers well being in general.

The Nishis women are adapt in weaving skill. Basketry is popular handicraft among the men-folk.

The Nishis are agriculturists and they commonly practices shifting cultivation (Jhuming). Permanent cultivation is also being progressively adopted, where ever it is feasible. Principal method of Jhuming consists of clearing of patch of jungle by cutting and burning after number of years called the “Jhum Cycle”. Mithuns, cows, pigs, goats, and fowls. They hunt and chase by spears, traps, bows, and arrows.

The primary social unit is household comprising of several elementary families having in some cases as many as sixty or seventy members. Such a long house is virtually autonomous and self contained. The member of each such household submit to the authority of the head of the household. In every villages, there are one or two influential men to whom the people of the village may approach for helping in disputes among themselves. Such people are called Nyats and in their role of intermediaries are referred to as BOOT OR GINGDUNG. Inter village disputes are settle by Nyats and Gingdung.
Nyshi Dance

The Nishis are basically individualistic. The felling of openness is through blood and the clan spirit. Any disputes created among themselves are consider to be personal rather than social matters and the parties are often left themselves to settle their score, without interference of the society.

The theoretical anarchy in the absence of councils of elders is maligated by two factors first the co-existence of several clans in the same area compel them to conform to certain peaceful standard. Secondly, the services of go betweens universally recognised and accepted lead to peaceful settlement of disputes. These Gingdung or intermediaries are having no political or judicial power nor can they enforce their decisions. The success lies in arranging the meeting of the two contending parties and their influential supporters discuss the disputes and reach an unanimous agreement or decisions. What is reasonable and just is usually accepted. Such Assemblies sometime sit for many days and the case is debated. The penalties decided are eventually paid by offender but society at large does not bear responsibility to ensure that such payment is made accepted in the way of persuasion through public opinion and intimidation in the way of presenting the possibility of enlarging the area of conflict through partisan-ship. These are often enough to pressurize the offender to pay the fines imposed in the assembly usually through friends and relatives, who may even go to the extent of materially assisting the offender to make down payment of fines. The Daflas customary laws prescribed standardised compensations for various offences.

Nowadays, most of the Nyats have recognised as the Goan Burahs who take a leading role in settlement of disputes. In important cases, they are usually called from the different villages of the area to sit in a council.

 

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