The vastness of a land can sometimes be so surprising that you are all set to find diversity from one stretch to another and from one corner to another. This hugeness can throw you in confusion, or in a profound thought, at least I am the victim of this vastness. And how I float in such thoughts is because the vastness of India has so much to offer, as lately I had this super opportunity to travel the eastern and the northern avenues of India. The eastern bunch of states is called ‘Seven Sisters of India’ and are a medley of culture and traditions because it is a home to multiple tribes.
There is a huge parity when compared with rest of India. Should I say that it may be a culture that can not be identified with. The Indian ways of living, the festivals and food may have gained all the popularity and adulation in the West but this part of India is still to find its niche and recognition. Even people like us who are staying here in India are not able to gel easily with the people hailing from this part of the land. Even when talking about the festivals each tribe enjoy their own sets of festivals and mostly they celebrate the harvest and cultivation with different dance forms but there is also some religious emotions woven in the secular form of festivities.
These seven states were basically different tribes which came into origin when India had its freedom from the British; otherwise most of the tribes were independent before that.
Meghalaya, Tripura, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram form the family of the Seven Sisters but still are so peculiar in their own. As my traveling continued my fondness to this place kept on growing. The civilization has its own way of living and most of the countryside is untouched is devoid of the concrete jungle like scene.
Meghalaya one of the states – means land of clouds. ‘Megha’ in hindi means clouds and ‘alaya’ means place to dwell, and the place is the same as the name suggested. Meghalaya hold such a romantic beauty that it’s really not easy to erase it off from your cerebral cage. Somehow the senses and the spirit seems to be bound to this place as if there is some kind of spell done on you, but then its all worth to be in the pristine beauty. The state of Meghalaya is believed to be the home of dances and music, each tribe eulogize and celebrate their own set of festivals where they actively partake to enhance the festive spirit. Mostly the festivals of Meghalaya spin around agriculture, which being the prime occupation of the state people. The major themes of the festivals are to offer prayers to the Supreme Being who is known by different names in different dialects.
Behdienkhlam – the festival name sounded like some alien name to me initially and still it seems tongue twister to me. But this is one of the most sought after festival here in Meghalaya and the celebration commence during the month of July which is also a monsoon season here in India.
There are hills named as Jowai and Tuber of Jaintia. The people staying here have this festival where the religious ceremony basically worshipping the elements of nature as Gods and Goddesses and to constrain and impede the evil forces, which are the demons that attack the local people with deadly disease, called Plague. Now the truth is that because of the humidity and moisture in the air these kinds of diseases infested them and were dreaded by the local. Till date this diseases is considered as the craftsmanship of demon and they are believed to be driven off by beating and thrashing the rooftops of the households with the bamboo poles. Phew!! This seemed to be quiet a bit of a workout.
“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” This is one of the philosophies of the resident of Meghalaya.
The typical tribal dancing can be enjoyed at a pool called `eit nar`. At the end of this grand celebration a fight takes place for a large stripped beam by two groups of men. They bunch up in a place known as Aitnar and sing and dance simultaneously to the tune of pipes revealing tremendous emotions when the Rots and wooden posts are brought in the pool. They are lucky if it rains, because then the day is regarded as extremely auspicious.
After this the people unite to a place also known as Mynthong in their best attires to witness a ceremony synonymous to Football. This game is also known as the Dad-Lawakor. The contest is generally held between the Northern and the Southern Groups of people and it is believed that the group that wins would get a Bumper Harvest on the following Year.
This colorful festival of Meghalaya is in fact a thanksgiving festival celebrated during the season of spring all over Khasi hills. The beautiful maidens adorn themselves in traditional finery and men-folk in vibrant colored costumes participate with much enthusiasm in the traditional dance to the accompaniment of drum beats and other musical instruments. The diversity has many faces and this festival is one of its kind. Proud to feel and witness this side of India.