Shillong: The three-day Behdeinkhlam festival of the Pnar community in Jowai, Meghalaya, concluded on Thursday amid much fanfare and traditional gaiety.

Behdeinkhlam is one of the important cultural and religious festivals. During the 3-day festival, the rites and rituals are performed by the religious and administrative head Doloi (chief) of Jowai Elaka.

It is the most celebrated cultural festival among the Pnars and is celebrated annually in July after the sowing season is over. This festival is also an invocation to God, seeking his blessings for good health, prosperity, and a bumper harvest.

‘Behdeinkhlam’ means driving away plagues and all kinds of evil spirits with a prayer to the Almighty, and it is an important festival among the people of Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya.

As part of the celebrations, young men make a symbolic gesture of driving away the evil spirit, plague and disease by beating the roof of every house with bamboo poles. 

Thousands of men, both young and old, danced together to the tunes of the pipes and drums in the muddy waters of Pung Aitnar on the concluding day of the festival.

As part of the festival, tall-decorated structures called rots and a wooden post called ‘khnongs’ are brought into the pool. 

Around 12 rots were brought to Syiem Aitnar with different social messages on it on the last day of the festival. Youth would build tall structures made of bamboo, coloured paper and tinsel. The rots also carry strong messages for the preservation and protection of the environment and Mother earth, including messages on the importance of combating social evils.

Dignitaries from the state like Chief Secretary Rebecca Suchiang, Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, MP Rajya Sabha W Kharlukhi, DGP LR Bishnoi, BJP MLA Sanbor Shullai, Minister of Social Welfare MLA Kyrmen Shylla, Superintendent of Police (SP) of West Jaintia Hills District, BD Marak and other officials attended the festival.

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