At a Glance
"Your land is land for Gods to live in. Its air, its natural scenery, its pure atmosphere, its sweet water would attract even Gods"
Sardar Vallabhai Patel
Tucked away in the hills of eastern sub-Himalayas is Meghalaya, one of the most beautiful state in the country. Nature has blessed her with abundant rainfall, sun-shine, virgin forests, high plateaus, tumbling waterfalls, crystal clear rivers, meandering streamlets and above all with sturdy, intelligent and hospitable people. Emergence of Meghalaya as an Autonomous State on 2nd April 1970 and as a full-fledged State on 21st January 1972 marked the beginning of a new era of the geo-political history of North Eastern India. It also marked the triumph of peaceful democratic negotiations, mutual understanding and victory over violence and intrigue.The State of Meghalaya is situated on the north east of India. It extends for about 300 kilometres in length and about 100 kilometres in breadth. It is bounded on the north by Goalpara, Kamrup and Nowgong districts, on the east by Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills districts, all of Assam, and on the south and west by Bangladesh.Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya is located at an altitude of 1496 metres above sea level. Shillong, which was made Assam's capital in 1874, remained so till January 1972, following the formation of Meghalaya. The capital city derives its name from the manifestation of the creator called ShyllongMeghalaya is subject to vagaries of the monsoon. The climate varies with altitude. The climate of Khasi and Jaintia Hills is uniquely pleasant and bracing. It is neither too warm in summer nor too cold in winter, but over the plains of Garo Hills, the climate is warm and humid, except in winter. The Meghalayan sky seldom remains free of clouds. The average annual rainfall is about 2600 mm over western Meghalaya, between 2500 to 3000 mm over northern Meghalaya and about 4000 mm over south-eastern Meghalaya. There is a great variation of rainfall over central and southern Meghalaya. At Sohra (Cherrapunji), the average annual rainfall is as high as 12000 millimetres, but Shillong located at a distance of about fifty kilometres from Sohra receives an average of 2200 mm of rainfall annually.
Meghalaya is the homeland mainly of the Khasis, the Jaintias and the Garos. The Garos inhabit western Meghalaya, the Khasis in central Meghalaya, and the Jaintias in eastern Meghalaya. The Khasi, Jaintia, Bhoi, War, collectively known as the Hynniewtrep people predominantly inhabit the districts East of Meghalaya, also known to be one of the earliest ethnic group of settlers in the Indian sub-continent, belonging to the Proto Austroloid Monkhmer race. The Garo Hills is predominantly inhabited by the Garos, belonging to the Bodo family of the Tibeto-Burman race, said to have migrated from Tibet. The Garos prefer to call themselves as Achiks and the land they inhabit, as the Achik-land
Birth of the State
Advent of the British
The British came to Sylhet in 1765. At that time the Khasis used to come at Pandua on the border of Sylhet to trade in silk, cotton goods, iron, wax, honey and ivory in exchange for rice, salt and dried fish. Limestone from the Khasi hills used to fulfill the demand in Bengal then. Soon British officials of the East India Company began trading in limestone and thus came in contact with the Khasis. In 1824, the Burmese invaded Cachar and also appeared at the border of the Jaintia Hills. The British sent a small force to reinforce the Jaintia Rajah’s troops. On 10th March 1824, a friendship treaty was signed by the Rajah accepting the protection of the British. Other Khasi chiefs also allowed the passage of the British troops through their territories. After the Burmese invasion was over, the British demanded a corridor through the Khasi and the Jaintia Hills to connect Assam valley with Surma valley. Most of the Khasi chiefs agreed, and the road was completed in March 1929, but only after quelling an upheaval by U Tirot Sing. The story that followed after putting down the uprising by U Tirot Sing was the signing of several treaties with different Khasi chiefs. In 1862 the Jaintias revolted under U Kiang Nongbah. By virtue of these treaties, the British gradually took control of the mineral deposits and side by side subjugated the chiefs and also took control of judiciary.
There are four National Highways NH 40, NH 44, NH 51, NH 62 in the State having a total length of 706.56 km. The public transport services have a sufficiently wide coverage linking the important places within the State and with places in neighbouring states.The road length at the time of creation of Meghalay in 1970 was only 2786.68 km only which has gone upto 7633.00 Km by 31st March 2003 and the road density increased from 12.35 km per 100 square kilometer to 7633 kms; out of which 3691 km is black topped and remaining 3942 km is graveled. The road density has increased to 34.03 km per 100 square.Guwahati (103 km from Shillong) is the nearest railway station connecting the North-East region with the rest of the country through a broad gauge track network. There is a plan for extending the rail link from Guwahati to Byrnihat (20 km From Guwahati) within Meghalaya.Umroi (35 km from Shillong) is the only airport in Meghalaya having landing facility for smaller aircrafts and is having flight connected with Kolkata, Aizawl and Silchar. Another small airport is planned near Tura. Borjhar, the most important airport in the North-Eastern Sector have facility for bigger jet aircrafts (like Boeing and Airbus) is 124 km from Shillong. There is also a helicopter service connecting Shillong to Guwahati and Tura.
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited offers the latest services that telecommunication technology can offer. Following services are being offered by BSNL viz. Telephone, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) ,Intelligent Network (IN), High Speed VSAT Network (HVNET), Remote Area Business Message Network (RABMN), Internet, Inet, Wireless in Local Loop (WLL), Leased Circuits, Telegraph, CENTREX SERVICES AT SHILLONG.Meghalaya has an extensive postal network, which includes one General Post Office, one Head Post Office and 495 other Post Offices evenly distributed across the seven districts of the State. They offer additional services like hybrid mail services, satellite money orders, point to point speed post (courier) etc. There is one Post Office for every 3570 persons.State of the art computer and communication network was also established in all the District Headquarters, linking through VSAT the District Headquarters with the State Capital and also with various states in the country and Central Ministries at Delhi through NIC.A SCPC DAMA VSAT was installed in the NIC State Centre for accessing INTERNET services and Video Conferencing.Another SCPC VSAT was setup in NEC, Shillong for Video Conferencing facilities. This enable Shillong to be connected with the rest of the country through Video Conferencing. A wireless link (RF link) have been installed in the three Secretariat buildings ,NIC State Centre and also North Eastern Council. Another fifteen(15) sites RF connectivity was recently installed. This enable to extend a Local Area Network (LAN) from the Main Secretariat building to the other two Secretariat buildings and NEC building for accessing email and internet facilities. All the District Headquarters are providing INTERNET facilities using a direct PC VSAT.
In order to cater to the growing tourist population, especially foreign, a number of hotels have come up in Shillong and other areas of the State. These hotels provide ideal transit facilities for tourists and the discerning businessmen traveler alike. Click here for details on Hotels
Over the years there has been a substantial growth in the banking sector with most of the major scheduled commercial banks having their branches at Shillong and other places in the State. NEDFI, IDBI,NABARD are some of the financial Institutions having their branches in Shillong and other lead banks are SBI,IOB,UBI,Canara,Vijaya Bank,Punjab Bank,UCO,BOI,Co-operative Bank,Rural Bank etc. and Insurance companies like LIC,NIC
As of March 1997, there were nine hospitals in the State of which State Government owns five and four are private.
List of Hospitals in Meghalaya
1. Government Hospitals:
Civil Hospital, Shillong
Civil Hospital, Tura
Civil Hospital, Nongstoin
Civil Hospital, Williamnagar
Civil Hospital, Jowai
Ganesh Das Hospital, Shillong
R P Chest Hospital, Shillong
2. Private Hospitals:
K J P Synod Hospital, Shillong
K J P Synod Hospital, Jowai
Nazareth Hospital, Shillong
Christian Hospital, Tura
Bethany Hospital, Shillong
Wood Land Hospital, Shillong
Bethesda Hospital, Shillong
By 31-12-2003, 13 State Government Dispensaries, 22 Community Health Centres, 93 Primary Health Centres, 408 Sub-Centres and have been made functional in the State. According to 1995 data, there were 378 doctors, 81 pharmacists, 337 staff nurses and 77 lab technicians. A special program has been launched by the State Government for the treatment of Tuberculosis, Leprosy, Cancer and Mental Diseases.
Newspaper and Media
Local as well as major national and international editions of English dailies and magazines are freely available in Shillong and other towns of the State. Some vernacular editions of dailies and magazines have also come out.
Electronic Media: Doordarshan Kendra, Shillong,All India Radio, Shillong, U Peitngor Cable News, Media Plus,Ri Khasi Channel.
Daily News: The Shillong Times, The Meghalaya Guardian,U Mawphor,U Peitngor,U Nongsain Hima,U Rupang.
Weeklies :U Dongmusa,Ka Syrwet Umjer,U Khlur Ka Ri,Sawlyer,Ka Pyrthei Mynta,U Naphang,Yakyntu,Shlem Jingtip,Kynjat Shai,Jakgitel.
Magazines:Eastern Panorama,Grassroots Options.
For information on Newspapers and Media browse at http://megipr.gov.in/local_media.htm
Industrial Estates and Areas
To obviate the problems of prospective entrepreneurs in acquiring and developing sites for industrial purposes, some industrial Estates and Areas have been created and more are likely to come up in the near future These Estates and Areas provide well laid out land plots of different sizes with basic infrastructure like factory sheds, all season roads, sewerage and drainage, electricity, water, telecommunication, weigh bridge etc. Additionally, the Industrial Areas provide residential buildings on lease/ rent for employees of interested industrial units.Interested entrepreneurs are requested to submit applications providing his/her Biodata and brief project profile. Land allotment is done through a Committee comprising of the Commissioner and Secretary Industries, the Director of Industries, the Managing Director, MIDC and Secretary Industries.Export Promotion Industrial Park
An EPIP is being set up at Byrnihat over an area of 259 acres. This scheme, under the Government of India,is aimed at encouraging export efforts bybuilding up of infrastructure facilities of high standards to be used by Export Oriented Units (EOUs)
sustaining the interest of the State Government and local population in building and maintaining such facilities.
The following vital facilities will be made available at the proposed
EPIP: RCC Buildings and Factory Sheds
All Weather Roads
Common facilities such as, administrative offices, utility stores, parking facilities, canteen, health centre, post office, banks, training centres, conference rooms etc.
Growth Centres A Growth Centre aims to promote industrialisation of backward areas with the concomitant infrastructure facilities like power, water, communication, banking and other related services, thereby bringing about a balanced growth of the State.An area measuring about 182 hectares has been earmarked at Mendipathar for the development of a Growth Centre – on a cost sharing basis between the Central Government and State Government.Plan is afoot to offer the development of Growth Centres by interested private sector promoters at other strategic backward areas within the State.
Places of Interest - Khasi Hills
Shillong Peak : An ideal picnic spot, 1965 metres above sea level and 10 kms from the city, offers a panoramic view of these country side, and is also the highest point in the State. Obeisance is paid to U Shulong at the sanctum at the peak's summit every springtime, by the religious priest of Mylliem State. In the evening the city lights below appear like a star-studded abyss.
Sohpetbneng Peak: 1,343 meter, 20 Kms from Shillong, regarded as sacred by the Hynniewtrep people, is set amidst a beautiful scenic view against the backdrop of a sacred forest. This 'Navel of Heaven' as per Khasi mythology is a heavenly peak, which offers to fill the spiritual void and emptiness, to those who seek and desire solace and peace of mind.
Ward's Lake: Ward's Lake is century old picturesque lake also known as Polok Lake. Located in the heart of the city, popular for short garden walks and boating. The local people however prefer to call it Nan Polok (Polok's Lake) after an executive engineer named Mr. Pollock. It has a most pleasant, winding walk-a-way all around its parameter set in cobbled sand stones, in the midst of picturesque, rolling flower beds and fairyland lighting. The lake has a striking arched bridge over it.
Umiam Water Sports Complex: The Water Sports Complex has been developed upon the mighty reservoir of the Umiam Hydro Electric Project, at Umiam, 16 kilometres before reaching Shillong. The campus consists of a beautiful Orchid Lake Resort, the Nehru Park. Besides it offers a wide choice of exciting water sports activities with row-boats, paddle-boats, cruise-boats, sailing-boats, water-scooters, speed-boats and a floating restaurant with ferry services.
Botanical Garden: A secluded but captivating spot with a plethora of indigenous and exotic plants and is located just below the Ward's Lake. It also houses a mini-aviary with rare and colourful species of birds. The secluded setting of the Botanical Garden with its well-laid paved walks makes it a favourite resort for city dwellers as well as tourists who desire to exercise their limbs.
Lady Hydari Park: Lady Hydari Park, stretching over a km is replete with roses and blossoms of exquisite hues and colours, is a feast to eyes. Owes its existence to Lady Hydari, the wife of an erstwhile Governor of Assam. It has an excellent mini zoo cum deer park.
Golf Course: Shillong Golf Course is considered to be the "Glen-eagle of the East" at the United States Golf Association Museum. The site where the Golf Course is located provides a scenic view. It was set in an undulating valley covered with thick groves of pine and rhododendron trees at an altitude of 5200 ft in 1898 as a 9 (nine) hole course and later converted into a 18 (eighteen) hole course in 1924 by Captain Jackson and C. K. Rhodes.
State Museum: The State Museum is located in the state central library premises with a good collection of artifacts of North Eastern India in general and Meghalaya in particular.
Shillong Cathedral: As if to justify the desire of the British founding fathers of the city of Shillong to make it a little England, churches and cathedrals, large and small, have come up everywhere in the city. Some of these churches and cathedrals are so spacious and large that they can be easily accommodate a few thousand worshippers, at a time. Among such large churches of Shillong, mention can be made of the Shillong Cathedral, the Mawkhar Presbyterian Church, the jaiaw Presbyterian Church, the Laitumkhrah Presbyterian Church and the All Saints' Cathedral, as prominant landmarks of the City.
Churches of Shillong - a measure of the religiosity of the ShillongitesBishop and Beadon Falls: Both cascade down the same escarpment into a deep valley, the mass of water dissolving into misty sparks.
Elephant Falls: 12 kms on the outskirts of the city the mountain stream descends through two successive falls set in dells of fern-covered rocks. At a short distance beyond the falls, there are two smaller falls which are none the less beautiful and captivating. These are the Wei Iaplam Falls and the Wir Phang Falls. A well paved footpath and a small wooden bridge facilitate access to these falls.
Spread Eagle Falls: Located within the Shillong Cantonment, on the outskirts of the city, lies a sparkling waterfall which looks like an eagle with wings spread. Hence the name Spread Eagle Falls. The falls is locally known as Urkaliar or the falls into which Ka Liar slipped. A soothing setting amidst the calmness of nature - a treat to the eyes.
Sweet Falls: Situated near Happy Valley at a distance of about eight kilometers from Shillong. It resembles a straight pencil of water emerging from a large size water pipe, as it drops vertically over a distance exceeding two hundred feet. Most suitable for a day's outing and picnic, Explore it!
Crinoline Falls: Located in the heart of the city adjacent to the Lady Hydari Park with its mini zoo, lies the Crinoline Falls which cascades through its jungle path. At the foot of the falls there is a well maintained Swimming Pool which caters to swimming enthusiast of all ages. Beside swimming there is an attached restaurant and regular evening programmes are arranged for the benefit of tourist and visitors.
Diengiei Peak: Located to the west of the Shillong plateau, Diengiei Peak is just two hundred feet lower than Shillong peak. The peak presents a spectacular view of green mountainous hills. The captivating hills are dotted with tiny shining villages. Diengiei Peak is accessible by the Umiam-Union Christian College-Mawmaram motorable road which takes off from National Highway-40 at Umiam. Atop Diengiei, a visitor is greeted with a commanding view of the Umiam lake with the city of Shillong in the background. On the top of Diengiei, there is a huge hollow, shaped like a cup, which some geologists believe could be the crater of an extinct pre-historic volcano.
Dwarksuid: An enigmatically beautiful pool with wide, rocky sand banks located on a stream alongside the Umroi-Bhoilymbong Road is known as Dwarksuid or Devil's doorway. Its lotus-like rock formations are captivatingly scenic and unforgettable.
Kyllang Rock: Located about eleven kilometres off Mairang, is a steep dome of red granite rising to an elevation of about five thousand and four hundred feet above sea level. According to geologists, the hard red granite rock is several million years old. The rock is accessible from its northern and eastern flanks, but inaccessible from its southern flank where its slope exceeds 800 over an incline of about six hundred feet. The southern side of Kyllang Rock is encumbered with enormous detached blocks of rock, while its northern side is clothed with dense forests, containing age-old red Rhododendron trees and oaks besides bushy, white Rhododendron trees which are not found elsewhere.
Natures own Museum - Sacred Forest Mawphlang: Only 4 km from Shillong, close to almost all large Khasi and Jaintia villages of yore, one finds a Forest-Grove variedly known as Ki Law Kyntang (Sacred forest), Ki Law Adong (Prohibited forest), Ki Law Shnong (Village forest) and Ki Law Kynti (Private forest). The sacred-groves which have been preserved since time immemorial, are in sharp contrast to their surrounding grasslands. These groves are generally rimmed by a dense growth of Castanopsis kurzii trees, forming a protective hedge which halts intrusion of Pinus kasia (Khasi pine) which dominates all areas outside the sacred groves. Inside the outer rim, the sacred groves are virtually Nature's Own Museum. The heavily covered grounds have a thick cushion of humus accumulated over the centuries. The trees in every sacred groveare heavily loaded with epiphytic growth of aroids, pipers, ferns, fern-allies and orchids. The humus-covered grounds likewise harbour myriad varieties of plant life, many of which are found nowhere else.One of the most celebrated sacred-groves of the State is the grove at Mawphlang about 25 kilometres off Shillong. This particular grove has for long years been a reservoir of interest for eminent and internationally known botanists.The sacred-groves which make a unique contribution to the flora of the State are undoubtedly of immense interest to all naturalists.Cherrapunjee (Sohra): Better known as Sohra, Cherrapunjee is one of the most visited tourist spots of North Eastern India. Situated 56 Kms from Shillong and 1300 metres above sea level, known all over the world as the rainiest place on the planet. A pleasant drive to see roaring water falls leaping into deep gorges, including the famous Nohsngithiang falls is certainly an ever memorable visual treat. The lovely town is also famous for its limestone caves, orange, honey, a headquarter of the Syiem of Sohra and a Centre of the Khasi Culture and literature. The oldest Theological College in this region is located here, established by the Welsh Presbyterian Missionaries in 1888, known as Cherrapunjee Theological College. Extensive limestone caves abound, with a large number of stalagmites and stalactites inside, the full length and breadth of the caves has not been adequately explored. In addition, the natural beauty is complemented by springs and sacred forests.
12 Kms from Cherrapunjee is situated a beautiful Park 'Thangkharang'. Besides housing a bird sanctuary, the spot commands an imposing almost 180 degree view of the plains of Bangladesh. The ideal time to visit is during the monsoons when the gorges become resplendent with several seasonal waterfalls.
Noh Kalikai Falls: A few kilometres to the west of Sohra (Cherrapunji), a clear bubbling stream emerges from its steep mountain bed to hurl down a rocky precipice, into a deep gorge, creating a captivating view of breathtaking beauty. The cascading waterfall compares favourably with the well known Job Falls of South India.Located near Cherrapunjee are the Kshaid Dain Thlen Falls or the falls where the mythical monster of Khasi legend was finally butchered. Thlen is the khasi name for a mega monster, which according to local legend and belief personifies the devil himself. Axes used by the people as they butchered the Thlen made deep scars on the surface of the flat rock where Thlen was butchered. These axe-marks are still intact and visible. Mawsynram: 56 Kms from Shillong and is known for the Giant Stalagmite formation shaped into a "Shivalinga" and found inside a cave known locally as 'Mawjymbuin' One and half Kilometres off the right hand side of the Shillong Mawsynram - Balat - Ranikor Highway, very near Weiloi Village, once comes across a unique geological formation called "Symper Rock". It is an almost flat topped loaf-shaped rocky dome, which rises sharply from the midst of the surrounding hillocks.
From its base, one has to take an exciting uphill trek to reach the summit of the rock. From the top of the hill one can see the gorgeous surrounding hills and valleys and the plain and fast moving rivers of Bangladesh.
Jakrem: 64 Kms from Shillong, a potential health resort having gushing hot-spring of sulphur water, believed to have curative medicinal properties. People from all parts of the region flock to the hot-spring at Jakrem for bathing themselves in its waters. A well kept secret indeed.
Ranikor: 140 Kms from Shillong, a place of scenic beauty. Ranikor is one of Meghalaya's most popular spots for angling, with an abundance of carp and other fresh water fish. Huge golden mahseers, the pride of the anglers are available here.
Dawki: 96 Kms from Shillong, is a border town, where one can have a glimpse of the neighbouring country of Bangladesh. The colourful annual boat race during spring at the Umngot river is an added attraction.
Nongkhnum island -
the hidden beauty of the westNongkhnum Island is the biggest River Island in Meghalaya and the second biggest island in Asia, after Majuli Island in Assam. Located about 14 Kms from Nongstoin, the district hqs. of West Khasi Hills, it is 20 to 25 sq. kms in area. Travelling on foot from Nongstoin through the villages of Lawse, Mawduh and Mawthar, it takes about two and a half-hours to reach the Island. There is a wooden bridge over the Weinia Fall to enter the Island.
The Island is formed by the bifurcation of Kynshi River into the Phanliang River and the Namliang River. At the point of divergence, there is a beautiful sandy shore about 100 sq. meters in area. The Phanliang River forms a beautiful lake adjacent to the sandy beach. This lake is about 400 to 500 sq. meters. The River then moves along and before reaching a deep gorge, forms a pretty fall about 60 meters high, called Shadthum Fall. At the bottom of the fall, there is a beautiful pool where a variety of fishes can be found. It then continues its journey and finally reunites with the Namliang River, near a place called Thongrin.The Namliang River first flows towards the north and then changes its course towards the west. It then reaches a gorge and forms two narrow falls. The first one is called Riatsohkhe fall and is near Mawthar village. The second one is the wonderful and beautiful Weinia fall, which is about 60 meters high. The River then flows further west till it reunites with the Phanliang River on the western rocky shore and then flow towards the west. After a distance of about 10 kms from the Island, it reaches the deepest gorge and forms the longest fall in the region of about 335 to 340 meters high, called Langshiang fall. The area surrounded by the two Rivers, i.e. Phanliang and Namliang forms the Nongkhnum Island. Within the Island, there are big trees and areas of grassland and natural playground suitable for playing football and golf and even for landing a helicopter. There are plenty of fishing pools, especially near the sandy shore, called Wei-Phanliang. Angling is the only way to enjoy as well as protect the fishes.
How to Reach - Shillong
By Air Umroi Airport : Direct flights available only from Kolkata. The drive from Umroi to Shillong is about 30 minutes.
Guwahati Airport - Direct flights available from Kolkota, Delhi, Bagdogra and Bangkok). A taxi can be hired from Guwahati Airport in Assam, to Shillong for about Rs.11OO/-. The other option is to go to Guwhati City and take a shared taxi to Shillong .This rangement will make travel time longer.
Helicopter -There is a helicopter service from Guwhati Airport to Shillong. Information and tickets available at the Helicopter Counter in the airport.
By Railway - The nearest Railway station is the Guwhati Railway Station 103 kms from Shillong. On arrival at Guwhati Railway station walk over to the ASTC bus station. From here there is a choice of transport depending on ones needs.
Bus: Meghalaya Transport Corporation and Assam State Transport Corporation buses are available, frequently plying from Guwahati to Shillong.
Sumo Service - Sumos are available just outside the ASTC compound
Taxi Services - Taxis are also available outside the ASTC compound. The full taxi could be hired or shared with other travelers. (please note that if the dropping is not within Police Bazar in Shillong then you may have to bargain for the extra dropping charge).
Festivals in the Garo Hills
Wangala or Dance of Hundred Drum festival is an important event of the Garos. This festival marks the end of a period of toil, heralding a yield of good harvest. It is performed in honour of 'Satyong', the God of fertility. People, young and old dressed in their in their colourful costumes and feathered head dress, dance to the beat of long cylindrical drums. Held annually in November, the festival may last for a week.
Doregata Dance festival is another interesting dance where , while dancing the women try to knock off the turbans of their male partner using their head. If the women succeed, it is followed by peals of laughter.
Chambil mesara or Pomelo Dance
The Chambil mesara or Pomelo Dance is a solo dance-form which requires skill. The performer dangles a pomelo on a cord tied to his waist and then hurls it around without any perceptible movement of the hips. Expert dancers can hurl two separate fruits hung on a cord.
Festivals in the Khasi Hills
Nongkrem Dance is a religious festival in thanksgiving to God Almighty for good harvest, peace and prosperity of the community. It is held annually during October/ November, at Smit, the capital of the Khyrim Syiemship near Shillong.The dance is performed in the open by young virgins and men, both bachelors and married. The women dressed in expensive silk costumes with heavy gold, silver and coral ornaments dance in the inner circle of the arena. The men form an outer circle and dance to the accompaniment of music of flutes and drums. 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 priest and caretaker of all ceremonies. The festival is conducted alongwith the Myntries (Ministers), priests and high priest where offerings are made to ancestors of the ruling clan and the deity of Shillong.
Shad Suk Mynsiem
One of the most important festivals of the Khasis is Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem or Dance of the joyful heart. It is an annual thanksgiving dance held in Shillong in April. Men and women, dressed in traditional fineries dance to the accompaniment of drums and the flute. The festival lasts for three days.
Festivals in Jaintia Hills Behdienkhlam
Behdienkhlam celebrated annually in July after the sowing period is the most important dance festival of the Jaintias. Young men make a symbolic gesture of driving away of the evil spirit, plague and pestilence by beating of the roof of every house with bamboo poles. Also poles of great length are held across the stream Wah-Ait-Nar. People jump on the poles and break them while dancing in the muddy pool of water. A large pole is placed across the stream and two groups contend for the possession of the pole.This festival is also an invocation to God seeking his blessings for a good harvest. The women however do not participate in the dancing, as they have an important function of offering sacrificial food to the spirits of the ancestors.
The Lahoo Dance is performed by both male and female for entertainment. Attired in their best finery, usually two young men on either side of a woman, holding arms together dance in step. In place of the usual drum and pipe, a cheer leader, usually a man gifted with the talent of impromptu recitation, recites couplets to the merriment of the audience.