Meghalaya Society and Culture



Meghalaya society is the only matrilineal society in the northeastern region of India. The other tribal states near by have patrilineal type of society. In the former type, women lead the society and has more status than the men whereas in the later one, it is completely the opposite scenario.

The people in Meghalaya have their forefathers as Mongoloids. It is this Mongloid community that has divided its society into two parts - patrilineal and matrilineal. The matrilineal society of Meghalaya consists of Garos, Khasis and Pnars. In these tribal communities, women have the freedom to work freely for themselves. Though they do not have a say in the community matters but they enjoy great respect in their respective families.

The society within Meghalaya also do not allow customs where bride has to pay the price for getting marriage which in other words is also referred to as dowry. Women are held high for they give birth to the new generation. But since they have to fulfill all their household duties, the men are responsible for regulating the family. Hence the men makes most of the decisions for the family though they might consult with the women in the household.

The society around Meghalaya has some special rules regarding inheritance of property. Among the Khasis, the maternal property always goes to the youngest daughter, while the rest of her sisters would be provided with some portions from it during their parents lifetime. While among the Garos, the children from birth belong to the mothers family.

Even the law of inheritance in the Meghalaya society describes the status of men and women. When a tribal chief is to retire or he dies, he is to be followed by the eldest son of his eldest sister. But if she does not have any son, then the chief is followed by the eldest son of his next sister. Hence it shows that women are held very high in family but in social activities it is the men who takes over everything.

People

Meghalaya people can be classified into three main groups i.e., Garos, Khasis, and Jaintias. The Garos inhabit in the western side of the Meghalaya, Khasis reside in the central region while Jaintias can be traced down in the eastern part of Meghalaya. The Khasi and Jaintia tribes have the traits of Proto Austroloid Monkhmer race whereas the Garos have come from Bodo family of the Tibeto-Burmar race.

The Khasis along with the Pnars form a group named Khasi-Pnar. The Khasis can be traced down in the Khasi hills whereas Pnars are mainly located in Jaintia hills. Collectively, Jaintia, War, Khasi and Bhoi people are known as Hynniewtrep.

Other than those mentioned above, there are many other tribes in Meghalaya. Two of them being the Bhoi and the War who reside generally in the southern and northern part of the central highland. Another tribe is Lyngams in the west of the Khasi and Jaintia hills.

Demographics

Meghalaya demographics or population, as it commonly known, contains most of the tribal people housed within the territory of Meghalaya. Some of the important tribes that constitutes the demographics of Meghalaya are Garo, Khasi and Jaintia.

Talking about the demographics in Meghalaya, it can be said that the population of Meghalaya< is unevenly distributed throughout the length and breadth of the state. The variation in population in Meghalaya depends on the topographical factors and the accessibility of the place from the major destinations both in Meghalaya, as well as in India.

Some of the areas that hold the maximum population at Meghalaya are:
  • Area around Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. Places like Nongtoin, Tura, Baghmara, Williamnagar, Jowai, etc. rank high in terms of the density of population.
  • Areas around the Garo hills, especially the places around the northern, southern and the western fringes.
  • Cheerapunjee and Dawki.

The area encompassing the northern and southern part of the Khasi hills, some portions of the Jaintia hills and Garo hills are known for their sparse population in the demographics at Meghalaya.

Meghalaya demographics shows two distinct divisions: tribal and non-tribal. Talking about the tribal population of Meghalaya, it can be said that the Khasis are the largest tribal group of Meghalaya. Khasis are followed by the Garos. Other tribes that form an important part of Meghalaya demographics are: Jaintias Koch Hajong Mikir Dimasa Lakhar Hmar Kuki, etc. Moreover, the demographics of Meghalaya show the presence of a lot Christians within the territory. In, fact, Meghalaya is said to be among the first three states of India, holding the maximum number of Christians.

Thus, the Meghalaya demographics, as it is evident, is a crisp study on the living pattern of the people of Meghalaya.

Religion

The Meghalaya religion is based on the fear and dread of the supernatural powers. Although, traditionally the religion of Meghalaya is not animistic; yet the religion in Meghalaya celebrates a presiding God, known as 'Dakgipa Rugipa Stugipa Pantugipa' or 'Tatora Rabuga Stura Pantura'.

The religion at Meghalaya is basically monotheistic, yet has many polytheistic stages. In fact, the genesis of the religion shows that it was purely monotheistic; gradually it became polytheistic.

Moreover, the Garos believe in the creation of the universe, earth, living beings, seas, heavenly bodies, rain, storm, thunder, wind- this constitute the essence of the religion in Meghalaya. Besides, the nature worship, the religion of Meghalaya also constitutes many lesser gods and many ceremonies and festivities are attached to it.

In the recent years, most of the Garos have turned Christians. Yet, talking about the religion of the Garo clan in Meghalaya, it can be said that the religion is a combination of Hinduism and Pantheism. The Garos, like the Hindus and the Buddhists, believe in the 'Spirit of Man': this incarnation is based on sin. Some of the important deities of Meghalaya are Tartar-Robunga, Choradubi, Saljong, Goers, Susine, etc.

Furthermore, sacrifices are a part of the religion in Meghalaya. The titular deities are invoked on many occasions in Meghalaya, such as birth, illness marriage, death, harvesting of crops, welfare of the community, protection from danger, etc. Like most of the Hindu religion, Meghalaya religion also shows reverence towards their ancestors.

But, according to the generalization of many scholars and researchers, the religion of Meghalaya does not have a concrete base, as it is devoid of any logic. The nature worship or sacrificial rituals rank among the illogical human practices. Therefore, as it is evident, the religion of Meghalaya, basically the religion of the Garos, show a cultural patten, which is unlike any other religious practices of any other part pf India.

Music

The land of Meghalaya is dowered with a rich heritage of Meghalaya music, as its occupants just love to get drenched in its holy spirit that drives away all sorts of worries and vexations. In fact, all the major festivals in the state of Meghalaya pivot around the mesmerizing songs and dances that truly rejuvenates the soul and the mind.

The heavenly delectable valleys that spans across the terrain of Meghalaya reverberate with the soul-stirring tunes of the music emerging out from the hearts of the residents. Traditional songs, legendary instruments and a soothing tempo are all the necessary ingredients that has metamorphosed Meghalaya music into an absolute treat.

The music of Meghalaya mainly draws its inspiration from natural beauties like the water falls, hills, lakes etc. It is the individuals belonging to the Jaintias and the Khasis who consider music to be the sole passion of their life.

'Phawar' is the form of music that was introduced by the Khasis and constitutes an integral wing of the music from Meghalaya. It is presented in the form of a psalm and contains the description of the occasion in its lyrics. Songs dedicated to the various martyrs who embraced death for the sake of the country, ballads, verses that depict the past and many more. Other key ingredients that make the music even more splendid are instruments like the Ksiang Shynrang and Ksing Kynthei. Flutes and drums also from an integral part of the music of Meghalaya. Various instruments like 'Tangmuri', 'Shaw Shaw', 'Nakra', 'Kising Padiah', 'Besli', 'Duitara' make the music of Meghalaya even more thrilling and desirable.

Crafts

Meghalaya crafts constitute one of the major sources of cultural heritage of the tribal people of the state. The major crafts of Meghalaya are weaving, bamboo and cane crafts, carving, jewelery, engraving, wood works, Khasi locks, carpets and wall hangings.

Among the crafts in Meghalaya, weaving is a woman's domain. The various weaving products at Meghalaya include waist cloths, scarfs, bodice, shawls, lungis, wrappers, girdles, skirts and aprons. Weaving is a major traditional way of living for the Garos. Endi silk and cotton handloom are the important textiles of Meghalaya.

Bamboo and cane crafts are an important part of the crafts at Meghalaya. They are mainly of two types: medium quality items and good quality items. Many varied daily use items are made up of bamboo including baskets and mats.

The Garos who are not Christian make statues in memory of the dead. These statues are actually wooden engravings. Such statues resemble the dead. In the Khasi lock, one has to screw the key to lock or unlock.

Some figures resembling animals and men are engraved on the walls of the houses of the local people in a few Jaintia and Garo villages.

Certain fascinating carvings are available in the state of Meghalaya. The carvings representing a lover with his beloved are found near the place of Jowai. Today, these carvings are critically acclaimed for their artistry.

The Khasi and Jaintia jewelery do not differ much. A popular tribal jewelry piece is the pendant also termed Kynjri Ksiar. This pendant is made up of 24 carat gold. Another important jewelry for these people is a string of coral beads, which are red in color. This is supposed to be worn round the neck. This is called Paila. The Rigitok is a Garo jewelry, which is made up of glass.

Carving

Meghalaya carving includes wood carving. Arts and crafts lies at the heart of the cultural life of Meghalaya. Wood carving forms the basis of cottage industry in Meghalaya.

Wood carving of Meghalaya is an ancient art that flourished in the rural parts of Meghalaya, especially around the Garo hills. Some of the exquisite examples of wood carving in Meghalaya can be seen in the temples and shrines spread across the length and breadth of the state.

Meghalaya wood carving has attained a great height due to the technical skills involved in it. Wood carving or , broadly speaking, carving at Meghalaya has been a craft which was done by the ancestors of Meghalaya.

Besides wood carving, we also come across a number of other crafts in Meghalaya, such as artistic weaving, winnowing fans, jewelry making. But, among these crafts, wood carving has carved a distinct position for itself. Many temples and shrines in Meghalaya bear statues made of wood that are worth seeing. These wood carving are unique in their representation and design. Therefore, tourists from across the world come to Meghalaya to witness the exotic wood carving.

The Meghalaya wood carving include toys, human figurines, replica of Gods and Goddesses, famous personalities, saints and sages, animals, birds, etc. Tourists coming to Meghalaya carry the Meghalaya carving as souvenirs to their native land. Thus, it is evident that carving in Meghalaya, especially wood carving, occupies an integral part among the crafts in Meghalaya. One will be allured by the beautiful pieces of wooden articles of the place.

Bamboo and Cane Crafts

Meghalaya bamboo and cane crafts is a significant part of the state's economy. The bamboo and cane crafts in Meghalaya is considered the second most important aspect of the economy of Meghalaya, the first being agriculture.

The bamboo and cane crafts of Meghalaya can be classified into two broad categories - daily required medium quality items and good quality daily required as well as decorative items. The medium quality bamboo and cane crafts at Meghalaya are meant to cater to the demands of the local customers, while the good quality objects are meant for sell at big markets. A variety of crafts are formed from bamboo like different kinds of baskets and mats.

The baskets are also known as khok or thugis in the local markets. The baskets like the meghum khoks are much in demand. They are prepared primarily in the Garo Hills.

It is a perfect example of a functional showpiece; its outer surface exhibits a great deal of expertise in bamboo work, while its inner space is used to store items of daily use like clothes. It is primarily used by the local tribal people. One of the most acclaimed cane products of the state are the fascinating cane sieves and baskets prepared by the Khasis.

This craft originates from Shillong and is formed in the basket-forming technique. These mats are made up of plaites of cane and bamboo and are mostly used in the rural regions. These fishing instrument is a perfect blend of decoration and function. These are locally named knup. It is in the form of a shallow and hollow cone. Different kinds of furniture is made from cane and bamboo, which are sold in the markets and also locally used.

Weaving

Meghalaya weaving is predominantly a domain of the women folk of the state. Different parts of the state of Meghalaya exhibit their own individual style of weaving. The variety of weaving of Meghalaya lies not only in the patterns but also in the processing of the cloth. Weaving at Meghalaya delivers a variety of products like shawls, wrappers, waist cloths, girdles, bodice, skirts, scarfs, lungis and aprons. Each of these costumes have a distinct character in terms of color combinations and overall get up.

Weaving in Meghalaya is a full time job for the women, particularly, the Garo women. Weaving is one of the traditional Garo livelihoods. Their finely woven handloom drapes the men as well as women of the entire state of Meghalaya.

The major silk product of Meghalaya is the endi silk, which is known for its durability and texture. The village named Sonidan has become famous for this variety of silk. The other silk variety commonly used is the locally produced mulberry silk. It is widely used to create Jainsen, a traditional female dress of Meghalaya.The loom consists of a back strap, which has a warp that runs horizontally. There are six sticks in the warp, which work as the lease rod, warp beam, heald stick, extra warp beam and beating sword. Different patterns are impressed on a piece of cloth by mixing and matching threads of different colors in the warp. The handloom products of the Garos include tablecloths, shirting, bed sheets and bed covers. The chief cotton handloom produced in the Garo is Dakmandes. This attire is traditionally worn to cover the body from the waist to the knees. A large number of women have made themselves a part of the Meghalaya weaving industry.

Jewellry

Meghalaya jewelry form an integral part of dressing up in Meghalaya. Jewelry in Meghalaya is so important that it is worn both by men and women of Meghalaya.

The tribal population in Meghalaya wear unique type of ornaments. The thick red coral bead necklaces known as 'Paila' and the thin fluted stems of glass known as 'Rigitok' form the typical Meghalaya jewelry worn by the Khasis, Jaintias and Garos tribes.

Among the important jewelry of Meghalaya, which are specially worn by the women in Meghalaya are:

  • Wahdong
  • Coronet-Ka pangsngiat
  • Lakyrdeng
  • Siar Kynthei
  • Lakyrdeng
  • Ki tad ki mahu
  • Shah ryndand
  • Kanupad
  • Kynjri tabah
  • Khadu syngkha, etc.

    It is interesting in this context that men in Meghalaya also are fond of jewelry. In fact, it is customary for men to wear jewelry at Meghalaya. Some of the jewelry worn by men in Meghalaya are:

  • Kynjari
  • Siar shynrang
  • Coral beads
  • A sword belt and scabbard
  • Quiver
  • Wrislets, etc.

    Moreover, the Garos are known for wearing ethnic jewelry in Meghalaya: the design and make of the jewelry worn by the Garos are both authentic and interesting. An estimate of the jewelry worn by the Garo tribes is as follows:

  • Natapsi
  • Pilne
  • Ripok
  • Jaksil
  • Penta
  • Jaksan
  • Seng'ki
  • Nadongbi nr sisha
  • Nadirong, etc.

    The jewelry worn by the Khasi and Jaintia community also follow a distinctive pattern in terms of design and ways of manufacture. 'Kynjri Ksiar' is a typical Khasi jewelry, which is made of 24 carat gold. Thus, as we can see, jewelry lies at the pivot of lifestyle in Meghalaya: jewelry and costume almost seem to be inseparable in Meghalaya.

    Festivals and Events

    Meghalaya festivals and events reflect the vibrant culture and traditions of the Meghalayan society. Wangala, Shad Nongkem, Shad Suk Mynsiem and Beh-Dien-Khalm forms the major part of the Meghalayan festivals and events. Festivals and events are marked throughout the year in Meghalaya, that is to say, throughout the year, we come across many festivals and events in Meghalaya. It is typical of Meghalayan festivals that they are marked by folk dances and folk songs and music. Wangala

    Among the major festivals and events at Meghalaya, Wangala is the most important. Wangala is a harvest festival that celebrates the Sun-god of fertility, Saljong. This festival of Meghalaya is marked by beating the drums and dance performances. During this time, people of Meghalaya forget all about their grief and the drudgery of life and indulge in the different festivities. Young and old join in the festivities all alike. Shad Nongkrem

    Another important festivals and events of Meghalaya is the Shad Nongkrem. This festival is held every year at Smit, the capital of the Khyrem Syiemship situated near Shillong. Initially, Shad Nongkrem used to be held during May, but lately, the festival has been shifted to November. During this festival, goats are sacrificed by the people of Syiem of Khyrem, in the name of their ancestors. The festivities of Shad Nongkrem precedes tribal dance by the unmarried girls decked in rich Meghalayan jewelry and adornments. Men accompany the women in the dance performances. Shad Suk Mynsiem

    Shad Suk Mynsiem is the counterpart of Wangala festival. Among the Meghalaya festivals and events, Shad Suk Mynsiem is known as the 'Dance of Contentment' and is celebrated in April. The festivals is, generally, celebrated at the Wecking grounds, stationed near Shillong. Beh-dien Khlam is celebrated by the Pnars of Meghalaya. The festival starts with the beating of drums early in the morning. Young men belonging to the Pnar community go around the village beating drums, which is supposed to be the summon for a tussle in a muddy ditch called Wah-eit-nar. The festival is held at Jowai.

    Thus, we can see that festivals and events in Meghalaya are unique in itself.

    Wangala

    Among the many marvels that have metamorphosed the state of Meghalaya into a rich cultural hub, Wangala is undoubtedly one of the most prominent and sought-after festivals that is celebrated in November. It is the Garos descending from Meghalaya who consider Wangala to be their one of the most sacred and coveted festivities.

    Wangala of Meghalaya is categorized as a festival that marks the auspicious onset of the harvest season. The chief deity who is revered with great devotion during this magnanimous festival is the Sun God of fertility, 'Saljong'. Another major event that signifies Wangala is the commencement of the bone-chilling winter season. Wangala also epitomizes the termination of a grueling tenure of devoted hard work.

    In the Wangala festival of Meghalaya, it is the local folks belonging to various tribes who pay homage to their primary divinity, Saljong. Wangala in Meghalaya is also bestowed with another name-100 drums festivals. Traditionally, Wangala continues for a span of two days but occasionally it can also extend to even a whole week.

    Shad Suk Mynsiem

    The state of Meghalaya is dowered with many spectacular festivals which are characterized by scintillating dance performances, multi-colored robes that are enriched with the charms of a rainbow and soul-stirring music. Among these, Shad Suk Mynsiem is one of the most desired and sought-after events.

    Shad Suk Mynsiem literally means 'The Dance of Joyful Heart' if roughly translated. The Khasis situated in Meghalaya constitute the main community of people who take part in this delectable festival. Shad Suk Mynsiem of Meghalaya is principally celebrated in the months of April every year. The magniloquent knoll infested locale of Shillong hosts this so-called 'Dance of Contentment'. Shad Suk Mynsiem in Meghalaya is characterized by the locals who perform a dance of gratitude to mark the onset of the sowing season and bid farewell to the harvest season.

    The Shad Suk Mynsiem festival of Meghalaya is celebrated over a period of three days. The female performers draped in orthodox grabs accompanied by the men equally well-dressed execute the Shad Suk Mynsiem dance with utmost sincerity and dedication. To add a distinctive flavor of jubilation and elation, drums, flutes and pipes known as 'Tangmuri' are also played.

    The Shad Suk Mynsiem in Meghalaya has another significance in terms of tradition. The eternal fertility cult is represented through this celebration. The women play the part of dual carriers of seed and fruits whereas the men act as the harvesters. All in all, this festival is marked by the contending feeling of thankfulness and appreciation and holds a special position in the hearts of the Khasis of Meghalaya.

    Beh Dien Khlam

    The state of Meghalaya is blessed with numerous intriguing and fabulous festivals, among which Beh Dien Khlam is truly an exquisite one. Being celebrated in the month of June through to the month of July, Beh Dien Khlam of Meghalaya is chiefly feted by the people of the Pnars community. Being one of the most sacred and spiritual festivities of Meghalaya, Beh Dien Khlam signals the end of the sowing period. The individuals of the Jaintia tribes play the role of the hosts on this dance festival.

    Alike majority of the festivals of Meghalaya, Beh Dien Khlam also shares an integral bond with farming as it is celebrated to recite conjurations addressing the almighty in order to achieve a mega harvest. The one most significant characteristics that demarcates Beh Dien Khlam festival of Meghalaya from others is the fact that the women are barred from taking part in this holy dance. The sole reason behind this is that they remain engaged in the preparation of delicious food that would be put before their ancestors as a tribute.

    Although, Beh Dien Khlam in Meghalaya is celebrated in many locations, but the celebrations at Jowai is indeed something to watch. The chief or Daloi is the supreme coordinator as he conducts the entire ceremony. The men bang the roofs of the various houses in the area in order to chase away evil spirits and cursed ailments and purify the whole area.

    The culmination point of this humongous event is marked by two gangs of men engaged in brutal conflict to obtain an undressed beam. Eventually, this tug-of-war descends into a dirty ditch designated as Wah-eit-nar. On the third and ultimate day of this three day long event, the whole community assemble at a venue called Aitnar and shake their legs to the enchanting tunes of musical instruments like drums. Other highlights of this event are stupendous ornamented structures called 'rots' and posts made from wood known as 'khnongs' that descend into a pool of emerald blue water. A replica of soccer called 'Dad-Lawakor' is played at Mynthong

    Doregata Dance Festival

    The state of Meghalaya serves to be a destination that is aptly loaded with a huge variety of festivals including Doregata Dance Festival that attracts fun-seeking holiday-makes from all over the globe. The place gets jam-packed with a a vast array of stupendous hammocks that spans across the entire length of this delectable locale. The term Meghalaya was been coined while keeping the pristine clouds in mind as it virtually means the 'home of the clouds' if roughly translated from the regional dialect of Hindi.

    There are numerous festivities that are celebrated with a lot of grandeur and elegance in the state of Meghalaya. Among them the Doregata Dance Festival of Meghalaya is surely ranked at a high spot. Almost a major bulk of the celebrations that take place in Meghalaya are targeted towards seeking the blessings for mammoth yields of crops. But the ones like Meghalaya Doregata Dance Festival are solely feted for fun and frolic.

    In the Doregata Dance Festival in Meghalaya, it is the women who get the priority over their counter-parts as they are bestowed with the coveted opportunity to strike down the multicolor turbans worn by the males. From the looks of it it seems to be quite an easy task, but there is a catch. The women are forbidden from using any appendage or part of their body in this endeavor except their heads.

    Pomelo Dance Festival

    The Pomelo Dance Festival attracts a hefty crowd of art-connoisseurs as well as fun seeking holiday makers who happen to have a good taste for quality dance. The Meghalaya Pomelo Dance Festival is also bestowed with another name that is 'Chambil Mesara'.

    The state of Meghalaya caters an entire caboodle of dances to express their gratitude and respect to the almighty. Although, some of the dances are choreographed in such a way that they serve as a means to unwind and relax. Most of the dances are dedicated to the deities to achieve maximum yields in the agricultural fields. However, some of the dances also involves offerings of wild creatures like goats, cocks and fishes.

    Most of the dances involves males and their counterparts draped in scintillating clothes shaking their legs to the mesmerizing tunes of the drums and the flutes and in some occasions pipes. All in all, these dances truly rejuvenate your soul and mind in an extremely naive and charming way.

    It is the inhabitants of the Garo Hills who perform the Pomelo Dance Festival of Meghalaya. Although, the name might not be so complicated but it takes real skills and talent to perform the Pomelo Dance Festival in Meghalaya with absolute precision and pin-point accuracy. This dance requires adequate safety supervision as the Pomelo is balanced carefully over the slick surface of a cord that remains attached to the hips of the performers. The real skill comes into play as the performer moves the Pomelo significantly without bending the hips. An elite performer can even hurl more an one Pomelo at a time.

    Nongkrem Dance

    Being feted at a venue known as Smit which is approximately 11 kilometers away from the picturesque locale of Shillong, the Nongkrem Dance is considered to be one of the most important festivals of Meghalaya. In fact, the heavenly delectable destination of Smit is the most active and lively wing of the Khasi hills which houses an entire caboodle of traditional dances.

    The Nongkrem Dance of Meghalaya stretches across a period of five whole days during which the locals take part in the immortal dance of this region designated as 'Ka Pemlang Nongrem Dance'. The onset of the enchanting autumn season marks the advent of this magnanimous event.

    Majority of the festivities that take place in the domain of Meghalaya is aimed towards a huge agricultural yield and welfare of the common masses. Hence, Nongkrem Dance continuing this legacy is also a ritual that is performed to pay sincere homage to the divinity addressed as 'Ka Blei Synshar'. The sole purpose behind the Nongkrem Dance in Meghalaya is to seek the blessings of the Goddess 'Ka Blei Synshar' for a humongous yield of crops. The Nongkrem Dance at Meghalaya is marked by a bizarre set of events which commences with the high priest accompanied by the Syiem of Khyrim executing a coveted ceremony designated as the Pemblang Ceremony. A nave cock is sacrificed to honor the Lei Shyllong. The term 'Pemblang' means the sacrifice of goats. People also pay their tribute to the forefathers of the tribe that is currently reigning.

    The Nongkrem Dance is distinguished by the boastful and thrilling display of masculinity put up by the males clad with swords and fluffy white hair derived from yak. The maidens on the other hand display mind-boggling beauty and grace through their elegant and well choreographed movements to the tune of the pipes.

    Lahoo Dance Festival

    The Lahoo Dance Festival that feted in the state of Meghalaya is indeed a spectacle to watch as participants representing both the genders engage themselves in an entertaining form of skillfully choreographed dance. Besides Lahoo Dance Festival, the state of Meghalaya is dowered with many more intriguing dances that would surely enchant you.

    The state of Meghalaya is principally inhabited by the members of three tribes namely the Khasis, the Jaintas and the Garos. All these tribes celebrate their respective festivals at different times of the year. But one similarity that exists between all of them is the fact that a huge bulk of their festivals involve dances and aims for a bumper harvest.

    Among these festivities, the Lahoo Dance Festival in Meghalaya draws a hefty crowd owing to its hilarious nature. Participants belonging to both the genders assemble at the venue and line up in a particular orientation. Unlike most of the other festivals, Lahoo Dance Festival of Meghalaya is chiefly performed for the purpose of merriment and jubilation.

    The females lock arms with their counterparts on both the left as well as the right facet. Thus, one female is tagged with two men on either side. Now, in this locked posture they attempt to shake their legs to the rib-tickling rhythmic incantations recited by a so-called male 'cheer-leader'. It is absolutely needless to mention that participants from both the genders are clad in their finest attires to add the touch of splendor to this uproarious event called Lahoo Dance Festival from Meghalaya.

    Shad Beh Sier

    The enchanting land of Meghalaya is bequeathed with many enthralling dance forms some of which are so exquisite that you will consider yourself to be blessed after witnessing them. Shad Beh Sier appears to be one of them. Shad Beh Sier is an exotic dance and is a specialty that the state of Meghalaya proudly bears.

    The wood infested locales of Meghalaya presents ample scope for all sorts of hunting activities to flourish without any kind of hindrance. An unbelievable variety of spectacular creatures roam about in the dense woodlands in search of prey and greener pastures to thrive in. Among them the following are the most prominent- elephants, bears, civets, mongoose, weasels, rodents, wild buffaloes, primates and deer. The varied species of deer found in this region are so spectacular that their slender running gestures and their proud antlers captivate you in a state of trance.

    The Shad Beh Sier in Meghalaya involves the deer as it is a deer-hunting dance that is performed by professional deer-hunters. Shad Beh Sier of Meghalaya serves the sole purpose of enjoyment and fun. The deer after being slain with the aid of a bow and arrow are attached at the top of a bamboo made stick. The triumphant hunters parade through the whole village proudly displaying their kill. As a souvenir, the fortunate hunter who had struck the deer with an arrow is awarded with the antlers. In case, a doe or female deer is shot down, her skin is scraped off and presented to the hunter.

    Umsan Nongkharai

    Umsan Nongkharai is a dance gesture that is performed by the residents of the state of Meghalaya in the months of April and May with a lot of elation and rejoice. Since, Umsan Nongkharai marks the onset of the spring season, it is accompanied by some intoxicating weather conditions and scenic excellence.

    The Umsan Nongkharai of Meghalaya is celebrated over a period of whole five days. Like other festivals characterizing the state of Meghalaya, Umsan Nongkharai festival also involves a sacrifice of a few naive creatures like a goat along with two cocks. On the auspicious occasion of Sugi Lyngka, the beasts are slain to seek the blessings of the deity Khasis -Lei Shyllong. This ritual comes to an end with the advent of Sugi-Shyllong. On this occasion, the masses pray till midnight. Post this, flute and drums are played to provide music to the dancing males. This concludes the proceedings of the first day.

    Meghalaya Cave Exploration

    Meghalaya cave exploration is something new not only for this state but also for India. This expedition is performed by the cavers who are brave enough to handle any kind of misfortune that may fall on the way of their expedition. This game has given a boost to the Meghalaya tourism alluring many tourists and foreigners towards this state.

    Meghalaya has a number of caves and is therefore popularly known as the 'state of caves' of the north east. The Meghalaya caves are mostly found in the Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills and the Garo Hills. These caves provide an indomitable adventure to the cavers. The dark and deep surface of the caves provide a kind of thrill to the expeditioners.

    However cave exploration is an off beat sport for the foreigners especially of UK and Germany. The cave exploration of Meghalaya has become a famous event as it promotes the coming of a large number of foreigners to this land. They come every year mainly in the month of February and do their expedition in the Meghalaya caves. Some such caves which comes under their consideration are Krem Umthloo, Krem Lymput, Ka Krem Pubon Rupasor, Krem Kotsati, Mawsmai Cave, etc.

    The cave exploration in Meghalaya is done mainly to find out new caves, to see the existing condition of the present caves and do further study on the various caves of India.

    Annual Boating Competition

    Lately boating has been considered as a famous outdoor game and thus is played with more serious mood. Annual Boating Competitions are celebrated almost in every state of India and thus has acquired a special status in this country. Following the rule, the north eastern state of Meghalaya also celebrates Meghalaya Annual Boating Competition during the month of February every year.

    'Variety is the spice of life' is a proverb firmly believed by the people of Meghalaya. Boating is a pass time activity enjoyed by people during leisure hours. The craze for boating has increased so much in recent times that most of the amusement parks are giving boating facilities to let their visitors enjoy a joyful ride in the heart of deep water.

    The urge to get the super power to win over the nature has generalized the menfolk to engage themselves into such competitions which being mundane is tough to handle. Such programs include cave expeditions, trekking, boating competitions, etc.

    The Annual Boating Competition of Meghalaya is celebrated in Dwaki. Dwaki is situated 95 kms far from the Meghalaya capital Shillong. Spectators from different corners of the state come to enjoy this festival every year. They shout in order to cheer, encourage and appreciate the participants. The interest of the spectators seems far more than the people who are participating.

    Tura Winter Festival

    Tura Winter Festival is celebrated mainly by the members of the Garo tribe and is a major cultural event both for the local inhabitants as well as for the visitors to the state of Meghalaya. Located in the west Garo Hills of Meghalaya, Tura is an important center of Garo culture.

    The best thing about Tura is its breathtaking beauty. The Winter Festival in Tura takes place in the main Tura town, which is girdled by the grand Brahmaputra river. The magnificent Tura peak provides a great backdrop to the proceedings and the events in the Tura Winter Festival. The scenic attraction of Tura is one of the main attractions for the visitors to the festival.

    Tura Winter Festival takes place in the February. Farming on the mountainous terrains of the Garo hills can be extremely arduous. The onset of the winter signifies the end of a session of heavy hard work for the farmers and thus provides a great occasion for celebration. Moreover, the mountains take on unprecedented magnificence in the winter.

    Tura Winter Festival features lots of folk songs and dance forms. An integral part of the Garo culture, these dance forms include heavy repetitive rhythms beaten out of the traditional drums with accompanying songs. There are also rural sports and plenty of food. Rice-beer feature prominently on all Garo festivals and the Winter Festival of Tura is no exception. The Winter Festival at Tura is a great place to experience the authentic taste of Garo culture as well as to undertake some delightful nature tourism.

    Archery Competition

    Meghalaya, the forgotten north eastern state is one of the states which has achieved a remarkable place in the calender of festivals and events celebrated in different states of India.

    The inhabitants of Meghalaya are not habituated with usual games and sports. Rather they are involved in some different kinds of festivals which requires special effort and art to play. Among the events celebrated there, the Meghalaya Archery Competition is one of the most yearning festivals. Meghalaya is famous for its events and festivals. Archery Competition of Meghalaya is one of the unique festivals celebrated in this state.

    Archery is one of the oldest techniques of India. The Indian mythological characters are all well archers. The art of archery is found in Ramayana and even in Mahabharata and thus has a historical background. They Archery Competition in Meghalaya will strike your imagination which will lead you back to the period of Ramayana and Mahabharata which have given birth to the best ever archers of this world.

    The Meghalaya Archery Competition is celebrated every year in the Polo Ground of Shillong which is situated in the East Khasi Hills. April- May is the perfect time to hold this grand festival. This festival not only allures participants from different corners of India but also attracts the attention of many visitors who come down to Meghalaya to witness this mega occasion.

    Autumn Flower Show

    One of the important states of north eastern India, Meghalaya is the latest destination for tourists for the eternal natural beauty and serenity that it provides. Meghalaya is one of the greenest states of north east and thus the nature holds a wide range of diversity in its wallet. This diversity is mainly in its flora and fauna which has made this state a rich one.

    Flowers are the most attractive feature of nature and holds an aesthetic beauty. The Meghalaya Autumn Flower Show is organized mainly during the months of October-November. Meghalaya boasts of numerous collection of flowers which gives a vibrant look to the nature. The floral diversity goes for making the state of Meghalaya so beautiful a place.

    Meghalaya Autumn Flower Show is a vivacious exhibition of decorative flowers. This show is exhibited in the All Saints Hall of Shillong which is situated in the East Khasi Hills. The Autumn Flower Show in Meghalaya is a vibrant exhibition of different flowers which displays hundreds of varieties of different flowers. Exhibition of rare floral collections and other plants is a also a part of it. Sunflowers, fire bush trees, different types of hibiscus, zinnias, crepe myrtle, lotus and other beautiful flowers are displayed in the Autumn Flower Exhibition at Meghalaya.

    Those who have a passion for gardening gets immense pleasure in this exhibition that presents a bunch of exotic flowers. Though holding such festivals have become a regular activity for different states and organizations but the Autumn Flower Show of Meghalaya has a remarkable identity for the variation that it holds.

    Spring Flower Show

    Meghalaya holds its Meghalaya Spring Flower Show along with numerous other events. Spring Flower Show of Meghalaya is one of the mega festivals of Meghalaya which is largely enjoyed by the people of of that state. Meghalaya is a state where festivals are always on for different seasons. Being one of the seven sisters of the north eastern region, this state has got the privilege of holding a commanding nature. Thus it celebrates different occasions at different periods of the year.

    Spring is the season of colors which not only glorifies the nature but also touches the human heart. The change in nature is mostly seen in this season. All the trees decorate themselves with beautiful green colors and the floral trees bloom with beautiful flowers. Flowers bring color and fragrance in life and the riot of colors play a different tune in nature then.

    The Spring Flower Show in Meghalaya is celebrated in the month of April. The East Khasi Hills of Shillong is the place which holds this event every year. People from all corners of Meghalaya come to see the beautiful collection of flowers which are of different shapes and sizes and are exhibited in a synchronized way in the Shillong Spring Flower Show. People especially photographers from different corners come to capture this aesthetic beauty of the nature in their cameras.

    Along with the plentiful collection of flowers, agricultural products like different plants, nuts and other hi breed plants are also exhibited there. Marketing of these plants and flowers is also an integral part of this exhibition.

    Seng Kut Snem

    Events and festivals are an integral part of Meghalaya life style. Meghalaya is mainly a tribal state which contains a number of tribal communities within its land. Thus it has different cultures and different traditions. Thus all the Meghalaya festivals revolve around the spiritual and religious sentiments.

    The Khasi people constitutes a major tribal community who have their own culture, religion and identity. The Meghalaya Seng Kut Snem is basically an indigenous festival which is celebrated in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. The cultural concept of Meghalaya have different dimensions

    The Seng Kut Snem of Meghalaya is a famous festival which is celebrated by the Khasi community. The Khasi festivals are celebrated to uphold the tradition and culture of their community. Khasi Festival Seng Kut Snem is celebrated during the month of November every year. This occasion is mainly celebrated to greet the ancestors of this community and to preserve and protect the Khasi culture. It is to influence the people to preserve their religion and culture.

    The Khasi people actively participates in the Seng Kut Snem of Shillong to enhance the spirit of this festival. Folk songs, dances and other instrumental music are played during the festival. Though it is not mandatory to participate in this occasion but the people by and large come to Shillong to enjoy this festival together. The Seng Kut Snem is a famous event of Shillong and has become a prime tourist attraction.

    Last Updated on : 14/06/2013



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