Inauspicious Dreams among the Mishings of Assam, Northeast India

Dreams are typically described as involuntary mental events that occur during a specific stage of sleep, involving a series of thoughts, images, and sensations that manifest as a dream. Dream study in a community can promote greater understanding and empathy among individuals by creating a space where people can share their dreams and learn from one another’s experiences. By fostering a sense of connection and shared experience, it can enrich the knowledge of the community’s perception and psychoanalytic interpretation of the dreams and significance in that community. The present study describes the interpretation and significance of inauspicious dreams among the Mishing community of Assam. Conventional anthropological methods, such as observation, structured and unstructured interviews, and informal conversations, were used for data collection. Secondary sources have been considered for a thorough review of the available literature. The interviews were conducted at various levels, including individual, group, and detailed discussions with the villagers. In the Mishings society, dreams act as a means that foretells or predicts the future; it may be good or bad, where good dreams bring wealth and prosperity to the dreamer and their household, whereas bad dreams bring misfortunes. They also believe dreams as a mode of communication for the dead with the living, where the ancestor of a living visits them in their dreams to let them know about their well-being or displeasure. Dreams that are considered as bad are taken seriously by the members of the community as bad dreams create uneasiness within the dreamer as they have strong beliefs that the predictions of the bad dreams which they have been following as an age-old tradition bear results that can never be ignored. Accordingly, they wait for good results when they dream of something good. Certain dreams are believed to carry important messages relevant to the individual or their family.