What is social, cultural, religious and economic relevance of Mithun? Discuss the economics of animal rearing in context with Mithun in several parts of India.

Published: March 17, 2016

Mithun is an important bovine animal which is also known as “cattle of the mountains”. It is endemic to the hilly regions of North East India and also found in few areas of China, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan.
Mithun has social, cultural, religious and economic relevance in the life of the tribal communities of the North East states. While most of the tribal communities of north east India rear mithun, it is a sacred animal for Nyishi community. Possession of mithun determines the social status of a person. Traditionally it is used as a medium of exchange and as the bride price. It is also considered as a source of social security during the times of emergency.
However, now mithun is under threat for various reasons including its present use for commercial purpose rather than cultural purposes. Due to limitless killing in the marriage ceremonies and during elections, their numbers have considerably reduced. Gradual denudation of the free-range areas along with climate change the mithun is under serious threat.
Mithun is not classified as a milch animal in Livestock census but it gives milk.
The milk of Mithun is less in quantity but is dense and nutritious as compared to cow or buffalo milk. Due to its high protein and fat, the milk is used for preparing curd, ghee, cheese and sweets.
The tribal communities of North East India rear mithun primarily for its meat value. Thus, Mithun is a sacrificial animal and its meat is preferred in comparison to other livestock in North East

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