Meghalaya or megh- cloud; alay- home; is a picturesque but tiny state in the northeastern region of India. As the state remained cut off from mainstream India for a long time due to some ethnic problems, it has been able to survive the onslaught of crass commercialization that has taken over other famous tourist centers of India. As is the name, the state receives heavy rainfall and two of the world's wettest places are located in Meghalaya. Full of vibrant culture, tradition, great scenic beauty, and tranquility are some of the attractions of the state that can pull any tourist in.
There is not much information on the history of Meghalaya apart from accounts of the more important Khasi kingdoms in the chronicles of the neighboring Ahoms and Kacharis.
The first written history of the state came into existence only after the British tried to construct a rail line through this area to connect Bengal and Assam that ultimately led to a treaty with the Khasi principality of Nonkhlaw. However, with the treaty came opposition, which forced the ruler to repudiate the treaty in 1829. This led to direct confrontation between Khasis and the British and by 1830s, the local rulers had submitted to the latter. The tribes continued their practices in seclusion until rulers of the region acceded to the newly independent country of India.
The region was included in the united province of Assam for administrative reason, which led to the agitation by the local population. The region was accorded full statehood on January 21, 1972.
|Area||22,429 sq km|
|Official Languages||Khasi, Pnar, Garo, Hindi.|
The state is bounded on the north by Assam and by Bangladesh on the south.
This Is One Of The Most Important Festivals Of The Khasi Tribes. It Is Celebrated At 'smit', Which Is The Cultural Center Of The Khasis. It Is Five Day Harvest Celebration, Thanking The Lord Almighty For Abundant Harvest. The Participants Also Pray For The Peace And Prosperity Of The Community. When The Festival Commences, The Syiem (that Is The Administrative Head Of The Khasi Region) Dances Before A Certain Wooden Pillar Called "u Rishot Blei". Then A Ritualistic Sacrifice Of Goats Is Made Followed By A Series Of Rituals Like Offerings To The Gods (various Gods They Are Worshipped Praised) And To The Ancestors, 'kalawbei U Thawlang'. Once The Religious Rituals Are Over, Dancers Begin Their Rituals. Unmarried Girls In Fine Costumes And Jewelleries Dance Within A Circle With The Men Of Open Sword In One Hand And A White Yak-hair Whisk In The Other. They Dance To The Rhythmic Beats Of The Drums And The Clanging Of Cymbals And The Flute Striking Up A Melody In The Background. Apart From It, There Are Lists Of Festivals That Are Celebrated By The People In The Khasi Hills. Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem, Ka Pom-blang Nongkrem, Ka-shad-shyngwiang-thangiap, Ka-shad-kynjoh Khaskain, Ka Bam Khana Shnong, Umsang Nongkharai And Shad Beh Sier Are Other Festivals That Are Celebrated With Much Pomp And Gaiety.
This Is One Of The Popular Festivals Of The Region Of Jaintia Hills. Based On The Socio-economic Life Of The Jaintias And Prayers For The Property And Good Health Of The People, This Festival Is Celebrated At Jowai, The District Headquarters. Jowai Is Situated At An Altitude Of 1220 Meters Above Sea Level And Is 64 Kms Away From Shillong. The Festival Is Celebrated To Invoke The Blessings Of Gods For A Bountiful Harvest And Keep People Off Diseases And Plaque. The Main Highlight Of Behdienkhlam Are The Making Of The "dein Khlam", "symlend" And "khnong", Which Are Rounded, Polished And Tall Trunks Of Trees. Another Festival That Can Be Mentioned Which Is Also Celebrated At Jaintia Hills Is The Sowing Ritual Ceremony.
There Are Many Festivals Celebrated By The Garos. Mention Can Be Made Of Denbilsia, Wangala, Rongchugala, Mi Amua, Mangona, Grendikba, Dore Rata Dance And Chambil Mesara. Wangala, Celebrated As A Thanksgiving Ceremony To The Gods And The Goddesses, Is Considered To Be 'the Post-harvest Festival Of The Garos'. Wangala Is One Of The Most Important Festivals Of The Garos. During This Festival, Ritual Sacrifice Is Made To The Goddess 'Misi Saljong' To Bless Them With Plenty Of Food-grains. The Festival Also Highlights The End Of The Time Of Toil In The Fields And Harvesting Of Crops. When The Dance Ceremony Begins The Dancers Of Men And Women Lined Up In Queue And The Men Beat Their Drums. They Move Forward In Tune With Clang Of Gongs, Buffalo-horn And Flutes. The Dancers Perform With Energetic And Vigorous Movements.
Shad Suk Mynsiem Festival Also Known As The " Festival Dance Of The Joyful Heart." It Is Held In Shillong And Is One Main Festivals Of The Khasis. The Festival Is Celebrated For Three Days And During The Festivals, Men And Women Clothed In Their Traditional Costumes Dance To The Beats Of The Drum And The Tunes Of The Flute.
It Is One Of The Festivals Celebrated In The Jaintia Hills. During The Festival, Two Men Dressed In Traditional Attire, Dance On Either Sides Of A Woman Holding Arms Together. Here A Man Promptly Recites Couplets For The Dance And Entertains The Audience.
The Dance Is Performed Only By Skillful Dancers. The Dance Consists Of A Solo Dance Where The Performer Manages To Dangle A Pomelo Or Some Other Fruit From A Cord Around His Waist. The Performance Gets Interesting When The Dancer Spins More Than One Pomelo Faster And Faster.
The People Of Meghalaya Have A Rich Tribal Cultural Heritage. One Of The Distinct Features Of The Culture Of The People Is Their Tradition Of Matrilineal System Where Lineage And Inheritance Are Traced Through Women. Dance Is An Indispensible Part Of The Culture Of The People Meghalaya Especially Among The Khasi Community. These Dance Forms Depict The History Or The Life Cycle Of An Individual Or A Village Or A Conglomeration Of Villages. These Dance Forms Vary According To Their Regional Taste But Still Portray A Universal Culture. The People Of This Community Celebrate Various Festivals Like Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem, Ka Pom- Blang Nongkrem, Ka-shad Shyngwiang-thangiap, Ka-shad-kynjoh Khaskain, Ka Bam Khana Shnong, Umsan Nongkharai, And Shad Beh Sier. According To The Jaintias Culture Festivals Are Celebrated Mainly To Bring A Balance Betwee
The Staple Food Of The People Of Meghalaya Is Rice, Dried Fish And Meat. They Are Mostly Non- Vegetarians. They Eat Wild Animals Like Deer, Bison, Wild Pigs, Fish, Prawns, Crabs, Eels And Dry Fish. They Rear Domestic Animals Like Goats, Pigs, Fowls, And Ducks Only To Feast On Them. Apart From Rice They Also Consume Millets, Maize, Tapioca, Etc. The Food Is Very Bland And To Taste They Add Fish Chutney Which Is Very Common Among The People. Vegetables Along With Roots Are Used In Their Cooking. Bamboo Shoots Are Used In Curry Preparations And It Is One Of Their Favourite. They Use A Kind Of Potash In Curries, Which They Obtain By Burning Dry Pieces Of Plantain Stems Or Young Bamboos Locally Known As Kalchi Or Katchi. Jadoh Prepared With Pork And Rice Is One Of The Local Favourites. Kyat Is A Local Drink Made Of Rice And Beer And Alcohol Features In Their Everyday Menu.
Meghalaya Is An Abode Of Wonderful Handicrafts. The State Is Endowed With A Rich Tradition Of Art And Handicrafts. The People Of Meghalaya Have Long Perfected The Art Of Weaving, Be It Cane Or Cloth. The Markets Of The State Can Be Browsed For Such Amazing Handicrafts. The Most Prominent Art Here Is Woodcarving And Cane And Bamboo Work As The State Produces Abundant Wood Material. The Craftsmen Weave Amazing Cane Mats, Winnowing Fans,caps, Umbrellas, Stools And Baskets. The Special Kind Of Cane Mat Weaved By The Khasis Is Known As 'tlieng' Which Is Highly Durable. They Are Also Known For Making Domestic Knives, Utensils And Even Guns. The Garo Weave The Material Used For Their Dresses Called 'dakmanda'. They Also Weave Shirts, Bed Covers, Bedsheets And Tablecloths. The Garo People Manufacture Beautiful Baskets Known As 'meghum Khoks' Which Are Used By Them To Store Different Items. Another Speciality Of The Garo People Is Expertise In Pokerwork In Which Designs Are Burnt Into The Bamboo With A Red-hot Pointed Rod. Jaintia Tribe Of Meghalaya Are Skilled In Making Bamboo Fishing Traps Which Function Very Well. Maghalaya Is Also Known For Other Arts Such As Silk Weaving, Carpet Weaving And Manufacturing Of Ornaments And Musical Instruments. The Best Bazaars To Buy The Meghalaya Handicrafts Are In Shillong. Police Bazar, Bara Bazar And Laitumkhrah Are A Few To Name. Meghalaya Handicrafts, Khadi Gramodyog And Purbashree Offers Fantastic Handicrafts. The Handicrafts Of Meghalaya Are Not Only Appealing But Are Also High On Durability Quotient. Take Back Home Some Of These Handicrafts And You Will Know It For Yourself. Some Of The Famous Handicrafts Of Meghalaya Are: Baskets Open Weave Carrying Basket Closed Weave Carrying Basket Small Storage Baskets Coiled Cane Containers Large Storage Basket Rain Shield And Headgears Winnowing Trays & Fans Mud Shovel Shield Made Of Bamboo Plints Khasi Bamboo Comb Khasi Bamboo Pipes