Festivals of Meghalaya

Nongkrem Dance is held in October/November. This Khasi festival is a thanksgiving to the almighty for a good harvest, peace and prosperity. Young women and men in the open perform the dance– the women are specifically unmarried and wear expensive silk costumes with heavy gold, silver and coral ornaments. They dance to the music of flutes and drums. The women dance in the inner circle of the arena. The men form an outer circle. An important feature of the festival is the ”Pomblang” or goat sacrifice offered by the subjects to the Syiem of Khyrim, the administrative head of the Hima (Khasi State). Ka Syiem Sad, the eldest sister of the king is the chief priestess and caretaker of all ceremonies. The festival is conducted along with the Myntries (Ministers), priests and the high priest where offerings are made to ancestors of the ruling clan and the deity of Shillong.

Wangala is an important festival of the Garo tribe. The festival, also called Dance of Hundred Drums, marks the end of a period of toil and heralds a good yield. This week long festival, held in November, is performed to `Satyong’ the god of fertility. Young and old dance to the sound of the beat of long cylindrical drums dressed in their traditional costumes and feathered headdress.

Behdienkhlam is celebrated in July every year by the Jaintias right after sowing the crop. Young men beat the rooftops of every house with bamboo poles. This is a symbolic gesture of driving away the evil spirit, plague and pestilence. The festival is also a prayer for a good harvest. Long bamboo poles are held across the stream and people jump on them and break them while dancing in a muddy pool of water. Women do not participate in the dancing. They offer sacrificial food to the spirits of ancestors.

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