Meghalaya Dance




Meghalaya dance forms an integral part of the culture of Meghalaya. The festivities in Meghalaya seem to be incomplete without dancing and music.

Meghalaya Dance forms an important part of the Meghalayan society: birth, marriage, annual festivals, etc. They seem to be incomplete without the dance performances. Moreover, the dance at Meghalaya is performed at every level of the society, be it Shnong, Raid or Hima.

Some of the important dance forms of Meghalaya are:
  • Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem - Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem is an annual spring dance that celebrates the harvesting and sowing seasons. This dance is performed to celebrate the agricultural cycles. The performers of the dance are girls and boys who wear colorful clothes and jewelry. However, only unmarried-virgin girls are allowed to perform this dance.

  • Ka Pom-Blang Nongkrem - The Nongkrem dance is a part of the religious festival, Ka Pom-Blang Nongkrem. Unmarried girls decked with gorgeous attire, gold and silver ornaments, and yellow flowers, dance forward and backward forming a circle. Men also dance in a wide circle with a sword and a white hair whisk in their hands.

  • Ka-Shad Shyngwiang-Thangiap - This is a ceremonial dance that expresses sorrow. This dance form starts on the day of death, outside the kitchen door, and end on the day when the last rites are supposed to be conducted. The dancers of Shyngwiang-Thangiap are supported by men who play music on flute, bamboo pole and drum.

  • Laho Dance - Laho dance forms a part of the Behdienkhlam festival. Men and women dressed in colorful garments take active part in the dance form. This dance form is performed by a girl, linking arms with two boys on either side. It is remarkable that, instead of any musical instruments, a man with a natural talent in recitation, recites couplets during the dance performances.
This was a snap-shot of some of the Meghalaya dance forms.

Shad Nongkrem Dance form

Shad Nongkrem at Meghalaya is a thanks-giving festival that celebrates the Almighty Lord. Shad Nongkrem dance festival is generally organized after a good harvest, for maintaining peace and prosperity in their territory.

Shad Nongkrem of Meghalaya is among the cultural revivals of Meghalaya. Initially, the Shad Nongkrem in Meghalaya was celebrated during the mid-summer; but, now the festival is celebrated in the months of October and November.

Shad Nongkrem is an example of the influence of Christianity in this area. Shad Nongkrem in Meghalaya echoes the story of Princess Jezebel. The dance form evokes the dance of Jezebel around the wooden pillar, which was watched by her Ethball. The sacrificial rituals also declare the Christian influence.

In fact, Shad Nongkrem dance festival is held after the rituals of the Ka Pom-Blang Nongkrem are over. This is dance festival like Shad Sukmysiem which allows the participation of unmarried girls draped in fine clothes. The girls wear gold and silver ornaments, while they dance to the tune of drums and cymbals. The dance movements of Shad Nongkrem involves forward and backward movements within a circle. Male performers dance around the circle formed by the girls, with sword and white yak-hair whisked in their hands.

Shad Sukmysiem Dance form

Shad Sukmysiem is an annual dance festival that celebrates the agricultural cycles of harvesting and sowing. This is a musical dance which is followed by drums, cymbals and flutes.

It is customary in Meghalaya Shad Sukmysiem that both men and women take active part in the dance. But there lies a condition for the girls. The condition is that, the girl taking part in the dance has to be unmarried and virgin. The young virgins dance with their eyes downcast. But, the dance involves maximum body movements: the girls dance with their hands loose from shoulders, with their body straight. The dance is performed in circles, moving forward and backward, and their toes bent to grip the ground. The girls turn round and round around the circumference of the circle.

The male dance performers of the Shad Sukmysiem of Meghalaya perform an energetic dance. It is noteworthy that there are no limitations or restrictions in case of the male dance performers of the Shad Sukmysiem in Meghalaya. The male performers also dance along with the girls, galloping energetically outside the circle in which the girls dance. With the change of beat, the dancers change the movement from clockwise to anti-clockwise, posing to protect the women inside the circle.

Moreover, Shad Sukmysiem symbolizes the fertility cult: it represents women as the bearer of seeds and men as cultivators, who cultivates and nourishes the yield, as well as protects the nurse.

Shad Sukmysiem at Meghalaya is organized at Raid and Hima, as well as in Shillong; but, the dance performance in Shillong is recognized by the state.

Laho Dance form

Laho dance is a part of the festivities of Behdienkhlam. Behdienkhlam is a celebration for the prosperity and well being of the people of Meghalaya. Laho of Meghalaya allows the participation of both men and women, who dance in their colorful garments.

Laho at Meghalaya is performed during the Behdienkhlam festival for sheer entertainment. The Laho in Meghalaya celebrates the free spirit of the people. The festival, as it is evident, helps the people of Meghalaya to forget the problems and complexities of daily life and indulge into a blissful experience.

Laho dance is performed by the women folk of Meghalaya. The female dancers dance with young men on both sides; the dancers link their arms and sway their bodies back and forth.

It is remarkable of the Laho dance that the dance form is not supported by musical instruments; in stead of the instruments, a recitation supports the dance. A man, known as 'cheer leader', who has a natural talent of recitation, recites ribald couplets during the dance performances. The common audience largely enjoys the dance performances as well as the recitations.

Moreover, Laho dance seems to be incomplete without the reference of the Behdienkhlam. A remarkable feature of the festival is that people of Meghalaya make 'Dien Khlam', 'Khnong' and 'Symlend' from tree trunks, especially from the pine trees. These tree trunks are placed in each locality, sometimes also in front of respective houses. After the erection of the tree trunks a host of rituals follows and ultimately the trunks are pulled down. The festival ends with consuming rice-beer and the famous Laho dance.

Last Updated on : 14/06/2013