People throng Smit village in East Khasi Hills to witness the 5-day festival celebrated annually by the Khasi tribe of Meghalaya during the month of November
Shillong: Decked up in their traditional attire and with people from all parts of Meghalaya and other tourist destinations, both domestic and foreign countries, Nongkrem Dance Festival 2019 was celebrated with the governor and the deputy chief minister making an appearance at Smit on Thursday.
Nongkrem Dance Festival is celebrated by the indigenous Khasi tribe of Meghalaya. Prayers are offered for a good harvest, peace and prosperity. ‘Goat sacrifice’ also forms an important part of the customs.
With a large crowd coming to watch the dance being performed by members of the Hima Khyrim, and also shop at the local market setup beside the dancing arena. Girls of the Hima Khyrim get decked up in their silk-woven attire with their necks filled with gold ornaments and a crown to complete the look; they then head off to the ground to take part in the famous Nongkrem dance. Likewise, the men also get decked up, ready to dance to the tunes of ancient drums and pipes.
Speaking on the occasion, governor Tathagata Roy said, “This is an incredible scene; I have spent so many years in Shillong but this is the first time watching this Nongkrem dance. I wish I could go watch the Wangala dance but being able to attend this festival I am very grateful to all the organisers for inviting me, it is a beautiful sight.”
Nongkrem Dance Festival is one of the oldest practices in the state of Meghalaya and the King of Hima Khyrim take immense pride in organising the annual festival.
The ‘King’ of Hima Khyrim, Balajied Singh Syiem, said, “It is my duty to take all those prestigious cultural and traditions from the past. It is a democracy where we enjoy equal rights , no rich, no poor can divide the society, no clans, no background, simply it is beneath traditional heads to maintain peace and harmony. The people of this kingdom still practise this old tradition, we are one unique community, and people come out on this day decked up in their precious ornaments. Nongkrem dance is still alive and is one of the oldest practices in Meghalaya.”
“We are fortunate that apart from our own self-supporting resources, to help with the expenses, which keeps increasing year to year but the ministry of tourism has extended financial support and we are very fortunate,” Syiem added.
The Nonkrem Dance Festival has been able to attract many people from outside the state. Even tourists throng Smit to get a glimpse of this unique tradition and culture.
A tourist from Austria said, “I have been travelling for two months now, and coming here, it was good experience witnessing the Nongkrem dance with beautiful dresses worn by the girls and even good food in the local market.”
“We happened to know about the festival from another tourist. We wanted to get a glimpse of the goat sacrifice but we’re unfortunate since it will begin late in the evening and we need to head back to our homestay,” another tourist said.