FESTIVALS OF MEGHALAYA
Meghalaya, the abode of the clouds, is a land of torrential rains and mystic snenery covered in clouds. The three major tribes - Garos, Khasis and the Jaintias, all have their own festivals - each celebrated with vigor, dance and merry making.
Nongkrem Dance Festival
Nongkrem Dance Festival (held annually in November) is a five day festival which is celebrated for the harvest thanksgiving by the Khasi tribe. The Nongkrem Dance is the most important festival of the Khyrim state. The festival is associated mostly with goat sacrifice and is held at Smit, which is around 15 kilometres to the southwest of Shillong. The Nongkrem word means “Goat Killing Ceremony” Nongkrem'. The word nongkrem was used because in the past years, The tribes used to celebrate this festival at Nongkrem, which is the headquarter of Khyrim state. This five day long festival exhibits many religious. Drums and Pipes are played continuously during this festival to mark the occasion. A major feature of this festival is young virgin women, who come out to dance on the specially prepared festival field. The women come dressed in their traditional costumes and heavy gold ornaments.
The traditional dance is performed by dancers who are the young men and women of the tribe. The youngsters get dressed up in exquisite attire. The silver or gold crowns worn by the tribes on their heads signify the glory and dignity of the Khasi society. The dance performed by the man is known as "Ka Shad Mastieh". The men dance by holding the sword in their right hand and whisks in their left. The sword is used to symbolize a man's defense of himself and his family. Men wear dhotis, full sleeved shirts, embroidered sleeveless coats and turbans.
Prayers are offered to Ka Pah Syntiew and U Suid Nia Tong Syiem. The prayer is offered for good harvest, peace and prosperity for all the community people.
Wangala or the harvest Festival runs for two days. The festival is dedicated to the sun god of fertility. Wangala is the greatest traditional festival of Garo tribes, who live in Meghalaya, India, Assam and Greater Mymensingh in Bangladesh. The tribes celebrate this festival at every harvesting period in late autumn. The festival falls during the second week of November each year. Garo people are dependents of agro-economy and do not use any agricultural products before thanking God of fertility, Misi-Saaljong. People celebrate this festival with dancing, drinking chu, singing for three days & nights. The Wangala festival is a grand Carnival to celebrate the harvest season because after years the people find relief in seeing the golden harvest. Thus prayer is offered to the God for providing crops and sing and dance to offer worship to the great deity.
The major highlight of the festival is the sound of 100 drums (nagaras) being beaten. Rugala and Sasat Sowa are celebrated on the first day and all the rituals are performed in the house of the chief of the village. Dama Gogata is celebrated on the last day. Young men, women and old people dress in their colorful garments (Dokmanda or Gando) and feathered headgear and dance to music played on long, oval-shaped drums. Katta Dokka, Ajea, Dani Dokka, Chambil Mesa or the Pomelo Dance is performed during these days.
Behdienkhalm Festival is celebrated by the people from Jaintia Tribe of Meghalaya.The festival is the most celebrated religious festival among the Jaintia tribe. Behdienkhlam is celebrated to chase away the Demon of Cholera. This festival is celebrated annually in July after the sowing period. This festival is also celebrated for seeking blessings of god for a bumper harvest. Women do not participate in the dancing, as they perform offering sacrificial food to the spirits of their forefathers. The festival is held at Jowai and is one of the most well known festivals in Meghalaya.
The ceremony and ritual is carried out three days. On the last day of the festival, people gather in the afternoon at a place called Aitnar. Young and old people dance to the tunes of the pipes and drums. Tall-decorated structures called "Raths" and a wooden post-called "Khnongs" are brought into the pool. People feel that there should be rain on this particular day of the festival. The climax of the festival features all the people dressed up in their best attire. They converge to a place called Mynthong to witness a game called dad-lawakor. The game is played by using a wooden ball between the Northerners and the Southerners. The winner wins the match by putting the ball on the other side. This signifies that in the following year there would be a bumper harvest in that particular region. In the evening a lot of funfair and merry making is done as part of the celebrations.