FESTIVALS OF MEGHALAYA

The Khasi traditions say that dances and festivals have started long time back with the beginning of life of the Khasis people in these hills. The social relevance of the festivals and dances are very great, as each festival and dance has certain meaning to them. Some of the important Festivals are mentioned below:

Tribe                                                  

Festivals

Khasi                                     

Nongkrem Pomblang Nongkrem, Ka Lukhmi

Jaintias                                  

Beh Deinkhlam, Ka Rongkhli

Garos                                    

Wangla

Lyngams                               

Liniang

Pnar or Jaintia                      

Ka Behdeinkhlam

Khasi-Jaintia

Ka Sajer Ka Raid Nonglyngdoh

Nongkrem Pomblang Nongkrem Festival of Khasis

Pomblang Nongkrem popularly known as the Nongkrem Dance is one of the most important festivals of the Khasis. It is a five-day religious festival held annually at Smit about 11 Km from Shillong, the Headquarters of the Chief (Syiem) of Khyrim. This festival is celebrated as a thanksgiving to God Almighty for the good harvest and to pray for peace and prosperity. The Syiem who is the administrative head of the Hima (Khasis State), Ka Syiem Sad (literally the Syiem Priestess), who is the caretaker of all religious ceremonies of the Hima, the Myntri (Council of Ministers), the priest and high priest and the people in general all join in this festival, which is a rhythmic form of prayers for all the well-being of all.

Behdeinkhlam Festival of Jaintias and Khasis

This is the most important festival of the Jaintias and celebrated in July after the sowing is over. “Khlam” means ‘Plague or Pestilence’ and “behdein” means to drive away with sticks. It is very popular and colorful festival of the Jaintias were men only, young and old, take part in the dancing to the tune of drums and flute. Women do not take part in the dancing, but have an important role to play at home in offering sacrificial food to the spirits of the ancestors. They invoke their aid and intercession, so that life blow will be good and worthy for the next one above. Men go round the town and beat the roof of every house with bamboo poles calling upon the plague demon to leave the house. This is done early on the first day of the festival. The climax of the celebration is the tussle, as seen in a tug-of-war, for a large undressed beam by two groups of people opposed to each other. This festival is also an invocation to God, seeking His blessing for good harvest

Wangla Festival of Garos

This is the biggest of all the festivals of the Garos performed in connection with the Jhum cultivation. It is usually held in October and sometimes synchronizes with the Durga Puja. But each village sets its own time and so there are two or three weeks during which Wangla is celebrated in one or two villages. After harvest, the annual dance of joy and thanksgiving commences. The occasion is initiated right in the field by simple but impressive ceremony known as “Rugala” which is followed by the ceremony of incense known as “Sasat Soa”. This is performed inside the house of the Chief of the village. The Chief amidst burning of incense, beating of drums and the chanting of the people, utter a few words of incantation and pour rice beer and sprinkles rice powder over a collection of field produce-offered to the Gods. Drinking, dancing and merry-making immediately follow this. People, young and old, boys and girls, in their colorful costumes with feathered headgears, dance to the tunes of music played on long oval-shaped drums.

Liniang Festival of Lyngams      

This festival is celebrated to commensurate and honours the dead person. Early in the morning on the feast day, cows and bulls are slaughtered and cooked; meals and rice beer are served to all for the whole day. Flute player and drummers accompany the dancers who dance to the beat of the drums, which is interrupted only for sipping the liquor that is made available to them abundantly.

Ka Rongkhli Festival of Jaintia

The most important festival of the War Jaintia and is performed at Nongtalang village of Meghalaya. Rong means festival and Khli means tiger which means Tiger festival. This festival is held whenever a tiger is killed accidentally or by the villagers on an organized hunting. In whatever manner the tiger is killed, God is to be worshipped and the festival is to be held. It is believed that if God is not worshipped, certain calamities or misfortunes like epidemic diseases, starvation, and blindness will befall on the people. The festival is usually held in the month of January, February or March after the harvesting work is over.

Ka Sajer Ka Raid Nonglyngdoh Festival of Khasi-Jaintia

A popular festival among the Bhoi of Khasi-Jaintia hills held in the month of December, January or February after the harvesting is done and before the sowing of seeds for the coming year. It is a religious celebration of the whole raid Nonglyngdoh connected with agriculture and cultivation rites of the people for the prosperity of crops. The people also thank God the Creator for all the blessings that he has showered upon them during the festival.