Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Carnival of Monoliths


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Aafaque Hussain documents the highlights of the Monolith Festival at Mawphlang held after a hiatus of eight years.

After a gap of eight long years, the  much awaited cultural  extravaganza  “Monolith Festival” , a journey into the heart of Khasi traditions, fostering cultural appreciation and unity and showcasing the rich and diverse culture of the Khasis amazed many  with  unique USP as the three day festival left many especially tourists spellbound with exhilarating (local) cuisine, dance, locally produced wine and indigenous games.

The “Monolith Festival” got off to a colourful start at the scenic Khasi Heritage village, Mawphlang  which is also famous for its sacred groves forests located opposite the Khasi Heritage Village.

The event stood as a testament of the unique cultural tapestry of the Khasi tribe as thousands thronged the  festival  to enrich themselves with the customs and traditions of the local community as various cultural  programmes highlighting the unique traditions and customs of the Khasis were exhibited  before the world in this festival.

The third edition of the festival  was organised after 8 long  years with an idea of  making the youths  feel connected  to their roots and to ensure that they  carry forward the  rich legacy and history of the Khasis as the vibrant extravaganza spanning three commemorated 54 Chieftainships, exhibiting an enchanting immersion into the rich tapestry of Khasi culture, featuring an array of art, craft, cuisine, music, and dance.

Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong who inaugurated the festival on the first day of the event said that the Government wants to   replicate the famous HornBill festival of Nagaland as the Monolith Festival has more potential than Hornbill Festival and therefore, they want KHADC to  make sure that this festival become a  regular  event in the state.

The Monolith Festival is a vibrant celebration dedicated to honouring the rich cultural heritage of the Khasi tribe, while simultaneously providing a dynamic platform for local artisans, craftsmen, and performers to highlight their talents.

Over the course of three days, attendees experienced  captivating dance performances like Shad Kruh Ram, Shad Suk Mynsiem, Shad Shutwait, Shad Thma, Shad Shoh Kba, Shad Nguh Meikha, Shad Krud Kba, Shad Mastieh, Shad Seng Khasi, Shad Kiewiing, Shad Pdah, among others, and theatrical skits like Tem Sur Kdor & Phawar Shoh Kba, that vividly portray the stories and traditions of the Khasi people.

KHADC Chief Executive Member, Pyniaid Sing Syiem said that the KHADC through the festival also wants to  showcase the local customary practices of governance and administration.

“ There are 54  Himas in the jurisdiction of KHADC and they have 54  different ways of preparing the goods. We also have rich culture in Khasi attire like  Jainsem, dhara etc and we want to showcase these,” he said

Through the  festival,  the KHADC also wanted to  showcase the rich  music and dances besides   musical instruments as  majority of the performers  performed local songs,  using   local instruments

“ From now onwards, we want  such festivals to be on monthly or  weekly basis as   it will help the tourists to get information and knowledge about the Khasi tribe,”  Syiem said

As the festival  is expected to attract large number of tourists, the economy and livelihood of the local people  in the area will also get a major boost

He also informed that the KHADC in its bid to preserve local  customs is also coming up with  Khasi Traditional medicine institute at Lum Sohpetbneng as there are around 1200  local practitioners who used local herbs and medicines to treat different kinds of sickness and ailments.

The festival also displayed the soulful music of the Khasi community, featuring traditional instruments and melodies by artists such as Lamphang Syiemlieh, Desmond Sun & Band, Pynter Orchestra, Kyntiewlin Mawphniang, Ri Maram Folk Akademi, Ki Sur Ksing na Lyngam, Dalariti, Summersalt, and more.

Alan West Khakongor, the Chief Curator of the Festival said that this festival is not only about   merry making but its about different communities  of Khasi and Jaintia Hills region coming together, sharing and celebrating  happiness.

Expressing happiness with the turnout  in festival, he said that the  even indigenous games such as archery  have been organised in festival with huge money  prize

During the event, Attendees also got the opportunity to admire the vibrant display of traditional Khasi attire, highlighting the beauty and diversity of their cultural dress through a fashion show. Additionally, the festival offered a culinary adventure with the opportunity to savour the unique flavours of traditional Khasi cuisine and local beverages at the food courts located at the event.

The Monolith Festival  is interlinked with  monoliths which are scattered across Meghalaya’s green hills and stand the mysterious and beautiful monoliths.

These giant stones, carved from single pieces, are silent reminders of a time long ago. Some stand alone, reaching for the sky, while others huddle together. Their sizes vary, with some towering like giants and others lying flat on the ground. The flat horizontal stones, or dolmens, were meant for women, while the upright ones, or menhirs, were for men  and each of them had a story of their own.

At the venue, quite a number of domestic and foreign tourists were also seen enjoying the festival as  they  visited the festival to  learn about the Khasi community.

A couple from Punjab said, “ We came to know about this festival just recently and we  came to see the festival  as we also want to  see the   local  customs of the indigenous  people here besides the usual  place of interest that is there in this beautiful state.”

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