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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What is the culture and lifestyle of Shillong?

Manavi Kapur DEC 10 2012
1 person found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Ever wondered why a place comes to be called what it is? Interestingly, Shillong was named after the Lei Shyllong, deity of the Khmer people who first inhabited Shillong. They believed that the highest peak here was the abode of their deity and so they named the land Shillong.

Shillong is a unique blend of different cultures as its population comprises of three major tribes as well as other communities. The Garos, Khasis and Jaintias are the more important tribes in that they are present in majority. The Garos are divided into various sub-tribes like the Awe and Chisakand, which are again further sub-grouped into sects and clans. The clans may further affiliate a few machongs (clans), to themselves. They are regarded as a ‘constellation of clans'. Some clans are now on verge of sub-division into sub-clans.

Cultural fabric of Shillong: Christianity and Christian missionaries have had a significant influence on this region with nearly half the state's population, if not more, following the Christian faith. The large number of churches in Shillong is a testimony of the fact. Heavy influx of people from outside the region coupled with waves of development and modernisation have all played a part in changing the region's cultural framework. Folklore in Shillong, like other regions and states of North-East, has a special significance in that unlike other countries of the West where folklore becomes a relic or an artifact, here it is a living and growing part of the culture.

The Khashi-Jaintias, being matrilineal, trace their origin back to their mother. Interestingly, the term Khasi is believed to come from Ka Shi meaning the first woman of the society. Ka signifies feminine gender, Shi means one. Likewise many clans belonging to the Khasi ethnic group have their origin in narratives claiming descent from the mother. The children take the mother's family name and clan. The Khasi society is also known as a matrilineal and patriarchal society. This is because the lineage of the family is traced through the mother while the eldest brother has a say in most of the family decisions.
If you are offered a Kwai or a betel nut and rice beer by a native/local accept it with gratitude and appreciation as it is a gesture of friendship and eaten by the young and old, rich and poor.

Festivals of Shillong: Festivals are an important part of the cultural identity of this region's tribes; they bring to life the traditions and myths through symbolic performances. Now take Thanksgiving festivities; they are celebrated by all tribes in different ways and throughout the year. Among the Khasi tribe is the "Shad Suk Mynsiem" or the harvest dance celebrated for three consecutive days where young girls and men attired in silver and gold ornaments dance in thanksgiving to God for the spring harvest. Among the Jaintia tribe, the "Behdiengkhlam" festival is celebrated to drive away the plague or bad luck from the land. The Garos celebrate "Wangala dance" or the festival of hundred drums as their thanksgiving dance during the autumn harvest. The dance is performed by ten contingents of ten drummers each drumming on oval elongated drums.

Source of bread and butter (or rather rice): Although Shillong is primarily an agrarian society, manufacturing, mining and tourism are some of the industries that are developing here, though currently they are at their early stages of establishment.

The cultural fabric of this region may be undergoing a transition but the warmth, hospitality and genuine pleasure at playing host is indigenous to this region's people and an integral part of their psyche.

You can check live train running status on ixigo to reach this enchanting location on time.

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