DANCES OF MEGHALAYA

In the ancient days the parents used to encourage and teach their children how to dance in the religious and other dancing festivals. These age old preserved forms of festivals, folk songs, dances and tales is a great pleasure and pride for the parents to see their children in their dancing dresses, performing the dance in the dancing field. All the tribes have their own identity and separate dance forms associated with different occasions. They also have their own musical instruments consisting of various kinds of drums, harps, pipes and flutes. Khasi dances can be broadly divided into two kinds:

1. Ka Shadniam or Religious Dance

2. Ka Shad Sngewbha or Festive Dance without any religious ceremonies.

Some of the dance forms of the States are given below:

NAME OF COMMUNITY

NAME OF THE DANCES

Pnars or Jaintias

Behdeinkhlam

Hajongs

Chorkhela                                         

Khasi

Shad Suk Mynsiem

Lyngngams

Chad aideit, Chad rein maw, Chad kut snim,
Chad Seinkhynrum, Chad Lynniang, Chad ku iing

Janitias

Nongkrem Dance, Ka Shad Lehniam, KanShad nguh’ Lei Shyllong, Laho

Garos

Rongchugala, Wangla, Messa, Ka Shad Nguh Meikha Bad Phur Peobah

Wangala

The Wangala dance is the most popular and important dance of the Garos. This dance is generally performed during harvest festival. Both married and unmarried men and women dance to the tunes of the beating of drums, blowing of trumpet (made of horn) and flutes. The dance begins from the house of the Nokma and the dancers go from house to house. This dance festival is the most colourful, spectacular and convivial for the entire Garo community.

Ka Shad Mastieh Dance

Ka Shad Mastieh is a dance by the male dancers which exhibits a type of old war dance. In this dance, a dancer holds a sword and symphiah. It consists of stepping backwards and forward, bows their heads and drops down their swords and symphiah and then recedes. This process is repeated several times. The dancers face each other charging forward and receding in the above style.

Behdeinkhlam Dance of Pnars or Jaintias

This dance performs during the Ka Behdeinkhlam, a religious festival of the Pnars or Jaintias inhabiting the Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya. During this festival only male dancers perform Behdeinkhlam dance. ‘Beh’ means drive, ‘dein’ means stick and ‘khlam’ means plague, so it means a dance to drive away plague with the help of sticks, or in other words to drive away evil spirits which causes destruction of crops and properties of the people. While male dancers perform the dance to the tune of drums and flute women do not take part in the dance but play an important role at home in offering sacrificial food to the spirits of their ancestors. 

_Messa Dance of Garos

_This is another form of Garos sacrificial dance. The Messa dance is performed on the ceremonies of the Gana and Denbilesia. It is a dance, with quick and gentle swaying movements of the body with fine flourishes of Milam (sword) and rapid turning of Danil (round shield). The dancers intermittently strike the danil on his heel so as to produce thudding and clanging sound. A solo dancer performs the Messa dance before admiring audience amidst rhythmic sound of native instruments. And, as he dances, he shouts out in strong clear voice cryptic words of eulogies of himself, of his relatives and heroic forefathers. In Messa dance the dancer’s feet, except when in procession do not shift places.

_Chorkhela Dance of Hajongs

_The social life of Hajongs is associated with many indigenous festivals of their own. One of such festival is called Chor. Age (in Northern Mymensing) and Chorkhela (Garo Hills), the Chorkhela may be called as a dance and music festival of the Hajongs. The Chorkhela is performed during Shyama Puja. The boys and youths of a village form Chorkhela party with 10 to 25 members. 

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_Laho Dance of Jaintias

_The Laho dance is a traditional dance of the Jaintias and it has become one of the most important symbols of the Jaintia’s culture as it is connected with the creation/origin of the Jaintia people. The original name of this dance is Chad Chiphiah or Chiphiah dance. Presumably, the name Laho was originated out of the singer who rhythmically chants the dancing tune of “hoo-ka-la-hoo”. 

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_Shad Suk Myniem Dance of Khasi

_This is an important festival of the Khasi, held at Weiking. This thanks-giving dance is staged in April. This dance is popularly known as Shad Weiking. It’s a three-day long festival. On the first day, men folk dancers gather at Seng Khasi Hall together in a procession walks to Weiking accompanied by drums and flutes which is known as Shad Nohkjat. In the evening the dancers returned back to Seng Khasi Hall, located at Mawkhar, to resume dancing outside the hall. The third day is a biggest day, dancers flocked the ground, and bejeweled maidens attired in traditional finery and silver clad men folk in colorful costumes dances merrily to the beating of drums and accompaniment of flutes. People costume the ground in their traditional dresses. Men folk dancers go back from the ground in procession along with drummers and flutists and resume dancing display outside the hall during the festival.

_Rongchugala Dance of Garos

_This ceremony is performed at nighttime before the harvest. It consists of offering like fruits, rice and its beer sprinkled over them praying for the prosperity of the cultivation and thereby of the people themselves. Dances are also performed with musical accompaniment during this ceremony. The next day the offered articles are thrown away.

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Nongkrem Dance

The Nongkrem Dance is perform during the most important festival of the Khyrim State and is associated with goat sacrifice. It is held at Smit, which is 15 kilometers southwest of Shillong. The word Ka Pomblang Nongkrem literally means “Goat – killing ceremony of Nongkrem”. The word Nongkrem is used because the festival was held at Nongkrem only, the headquarters of Khyrim state in the past. Many religious rites are performed during the five-day festival. Drums and pipes are played continuously to mark the occasion while young virgin women come out to dance on the specially prepared field.

_Chad Aideit Dance of Lyngngams

_It is one of the most popular dances of the Lyngngams. It is a dance of offering a drink by the females to the males especially when they returned from war and honourable man. The number of dancers of this dance is not limited. This dance is performed with the articles of swords, shields and baskets/female baskets with bamboos.

_Chad rein maw dance of Lyngngams

_It is a dance of pulling the stone pillar (monument) to be erected in remembrance of a honourable man. The dancers are adorned with cock feathers or peacock feathers in their head.

_Chad kut snim dance of Lyngngams

_It is a dance of thanks giving to God Almighty at the end of the year for good harvest and to drive away the evil spirits from the village. The dancers walk around the village with shouting and singing during the performance and end the dance in the middle of the village. The male dancers perform this dance holding swords and shields in their hands

_Chad Seinkhynrum dance of Lyngngams

_This is a male dance performed during the religious ceremony of a dead person. Two or four dancers perform this dance with the accompaniments of two persons beating the round shaped drum and playing the flute.

_Chad Lynniang dance of Lyngngams

_This is dance is performed for the blessings of the ancestors to live in peace and harmony. Sixteen dancers, six females and ten males perform this dance with the accompaniments of drums, tanglihir (blowing bamboo/horn), wiangs (black plate) etc.

_Chad ku iing dance of Lyngngams

_This dance is performed before entering to a new house. A man called Nongknia sit in the middle while the male and female dancers dance around him. The Nongknia pray to the Almighty to bless and protect the house from evil spirit and danger. The dance ends by eating dry fish.