One of Meghalaya culture’s essential components is the Meghalaya dance. Celebrations in Meghalaya seem impossible without music and dance. Dancing may be a major part of the Meghalaya community: births, weddings, anniversary celebrations, and more. Here are the folk dances of Meghalaya (shad sukmysiem, shad nоngkrem, derоgata, do Dru Sua, lahо, etc.). because the majority tribe of Meghalaya, the Khasi people celebrate their indigenous festivals with traditional music and joy.
Some of their music mostly has natural sounds like a waterfall, bird calls, insect sounds, buzzing bees, and lots more. Niamh Khasi, the pre-Christian Khasi religion is monotheistic in nature. No fixed places of worship like a church, temple, or mosque. As per Niamh Khasi,, and each element of nature has God in it.
There’s no part that can be more sacred than another. The Khasi’s closeness to nature is clear in their belief that people should not pollute Mother Nature with their actions. there’s no fixed day of worship like Friday for Muslims or Sunday for Christians, instead, a Khasi can worship at home or оutdооrs because God lives in every part of nature.
After Christianity arrived through Welsh missionaries, nearly 85% of Khasi embraced Christianity, but a large minority still worships Niamh Khasi. The religions of the Garо and Jaintia tribes are similarly monotheistic, believing that God is omnipresent altogether elements of nature.
However, the Garо religion is specifically “animistic” and believes in an ultimate God commonly known as “Tatara Rabuga.” The Garоs believe that after death, man lives on in spiritual form and inhabits a selected place until reincarnation occurs.
Traditional Dances of Meghalaya:
1. Behdiengkhlam – Dance of Meghalaya
Behdiengkhlam is that the main dance of the “Jaintias” festival held every July in Jоwai, Jaintia Hills. This festival mainly invokes the blessings of the Creator for a healthy harvest and to ward off disease and pestilence.
2. Nongkrem – Dance of Meghalaya
Commonly known as “Ka Pamblang Nоngkrem”, this is often the most important dance of the “Khasis”. It’s celebrated in the autumn season and is essentially a thanksgiving to God.
3. Shad Suk Mynsiem – Dance of Meghalaya
Shad Suk Mynsiem is an annual spring dance that celebrates the harvest and planting season. It’s performed to celebrate the agricultural cycles. The dancers are girls and boys wearing colorful dresses and jewelry, accompanied by drums and flutes called “Tangmuri”, the queen of musical instruments.
However, only unmarried virgin girls were allowed to perform this dance. It’s a colorful celebration of Thanksgiving that takes place during the spring season in the Khasi hills.
4. Wangala – Dance of Meghalaya
Wangala dance is a part of the Wangala festival. It’s a major festival of the Garоs held in the fall, after the harvest season. This festival includes ceremonies to appease the deity “Patigipa Rarоngipa”, which is held in altogether villages. The four days and nights of the festival are completed by dancing and merriment. The highlight is the dance of the warriors – the “Dance of a Hundred Drums” – on the last day, which may be a magnificent spectacle.
5. Dorsegata – Dance of Meghalaya
The Dоrsegata dance festival is also a dance during which the women try to take the turbans off their male partners during the dance. If the women achieve doing so, laughter follows.
6. Lahoo – Dance of Meghalaya
The Lahоо dance is really a part of the Behdienkhlam festival. The Lahоо dance is performed by both men and women for fun. While wearing colorful clothes, both men and women actively participate in this dance form. A woman performs this dance form by linking arms with two boys on each side. It’s noteworthy that instead of a musical instrument, a person with a natural talent for acting recites the couplets while performing the dance.
Folk Musical Instruments of Meghalaya:
Musical Instruments of Meghalaya are utilized in dance, singing, devotional gatherings and other public performances. The music of Meghalaya is characterized by folk songs and music accentuated by traditional instruments. The state of Meghalaya also features a flair for western music with many Rock Music Bands. Music is an integral part of the Northeast, and the instruments play a very important role. There are several ingenious musical instruments to found within the region. Several of them are as follows:
The tangmuri, ka tangmuri within the Khasi language, maybe a double-reed conical-bore wind instrument used by the Hynniew Trepp people of Meghalaya State in North-East India. The tangmuri is employed by musicians playing for traditional dances, and for other traditional rituals, like cremations performed according to the indigenous religion, Niamh Khasi. The tangmuri delivers a high-pitched sound when played by the musician.
Duitara may be a two-stringed, sacred instrument resembling a guitar. It’s the typical musical instrument of Khasis and Jaintias in Meghalaya. Made from strong hardwood, Duitara often played with a wooden pick. It has 4 holes at its end, fixed with wooden pegs to carry the string in tune. The body of the Duitara is roofed with the skin of animals.
The sitar may be a plucked stringed instrument, originating from the Indian subcontinent, utilized in Hindustani classical music. The instrument was invented in medieval India, flourished within the 18th century and received its presence in 19th-century India.
The Khasis are musically inclined, very much like the other tribes of the region. One of the musical instruments used by them is called Dama, a percussion made from wood. It is a long and narrow drum, thick within the center and tapering towards the ends. The Dama may be a long, narrow drum made from wood and used for all occasions.
Nagra may be a large drum beaten only to call people to assemble in the house of the Nokma (leader) for feats or entertainment.
Kram may be a large drum and used only on solemn occasions like funeral and yearly Shraadh ceremonies.
It is also known as ‘Jew’s harp’, formed of a thin slit of bamboo. The skinny bamboo is cut in such a manner that a thin tongue runs down the center of the slip. There’s a short string fastened to the Jew’s harp and on the other hand, there is a small bamboo handle. It is played during dance festivals and is considered the ‘queen’ of musical instruments in Meghalaya.
Rangs or Gongs made from brass or metal and said to use as a gold reserve, as a man’s wealth and social standing are measured by the Rangs he possesses. They’re said to acquire value with age.