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 Meghalaya  >> Culture and society   >> Demographics   >>  Geography    >> Climate    >> Flora and Fauna    
                              Wildlife in Meghalaya  >> Palaces of  Interest      >> Tour Packages    >>  Map of Meghalaya


CULTURE AND SOCIETY

The main tribes in Meghalaya are the Jaintias, the Khasis and the Garos. One of the unique features of the State is that a majority of the tribal population in Meghalaya follows a matrilineal system where lineage and inheritance are traced through women.

The Khasi and Jaintia tribesmen follow the traditional matrilineal norm, wherein the "Ka Khadduh" (or the youngest daughter) inherits all the property and acts as the caretaker of aged parents and any unmarried siblings. However, the male line, particularly the motherís brother, may indirectly control the ancestral property since he may be involved in important decisions relating to property including its sale and disposal. The tribal people of Meghalaya are therefore a part of what may be the world's largest surviving matrilineal culture. According to India's National Family Health Survey, Meghalaya is the state where parents have shown the least interest to have a male child -- 73% less than the national average.

Fair & Festivals

Among the Garos, the most important festival is the Wangala or the Hundred-drum Festival held from Nov. to Dec. This is a harvest festival celebrated in honour of Saljong, the Sun-God of fertility. The festival marks the end of the period of toil in the fields, bringing a good yeild of crops. Everybody - young & old joins in the festivities. The men beat the drums and move forward in rhythmic union. Doregata Dance Festival is another interesting dance. In this dance, women try to knock off the turbans of their male partners, using their heads. Another dance that requires exquisite skill is the Chambil Mesara or Pomelo Dance. This is a solo dance form, in which the performer dangles a pomelo or any other fruit on a cord tied to his waist and then hurls it round & round.
 

Festivals in Khasi Hills

The Khasis have two important festivals - Nongkrem Dance held in Oct. / Nov. and Shad-Suk Mynsiem, held in April. Nongkrem Dance is held annually for five days together. It is a religious festival for thanksgiving to God Almighty for good harvest and to pray for peace and prosperity in the community. It is celebrated in the month of November. An important part of this festival is 'pomblang' or decapitation of the goats, offered by the subjects to the Syiem of Khyrim. The Syiem is the administrative head of the state. Offerings are made to the ancestors of the ruling clan.

Festivals in Jaintia Hills

Behdienkhlam is the most important dance festival of the Jaintias. It is celebrated after the sowing period is over. At Jowai town, this festival can be seen being celebrated in July. Youngmen make a symbolic driving away of the evil spirits by beating the roofs of every house with bamboo poles. The climax of the celebrations is the tussle, as seen in a tug-of-war, for a large undressed beam of two groups of people opposed to each other. The Jaintias have also another Dance festival for entertainment called the Laho Dance, where young men and women dance to the merriment of the audience

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