The 34th Seng Khihlang Festival Concludes in Wahiajer, Meghalaya

The 34th Seng Khihlang festival, a revered event for adherents of the Khasi Indigenous Faith, recently concluded in Wahiajer, Meghalaya. Spanning from April 19, 2024, the festival celebrated the unity and traditions of the indigenous community.

At the heart of this annual gathering lies the symbolic exchange of the Monolith, a cherished ritual that represents the enduring spirit of unity among believers. This year, the esteemed Monolith was received in Wahiajer from Seng Khasi Shaid Shaid, located in the West Khasi Hills.

Significance and Stewardship

The Seng Khihlang festival holds immense significance for the followers of the Khasi Indigenous Faith. It serves as a unifying platform, bringing together adherents from across the region under the stewardship of the Seng Khasi Sein Raij. As the year draws to a close, the Monolith stands as a symbol of the faith, culture, and community that define this ancient tradition.

Understanding the Khasi People

The Khasi Ethnic Group

The Khasi people are an indigenous ethnic group residing predominantly in the eastern part of Meghalaya, specifically in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills of north-eastern India. They also have a significant presence in the neighboring state of Assam and certain parts of Bangladesh.

Khasi Sub-groups and Society

Within the Khasi community, there are distinct sub-groups. The Khasis occupying the northern lowlands and foothills are generally known as Bhois, while those residing in the southern tracts are termed Wars. The Khasis inhabiting the Jaintia Hills are often referred to as Jaintias or Pnars.

The Khasi society is organized into several clans and follows a matrilineal system, where descent is traced through the mother. However, the father plays a crucial role in the material and mental well-being of the family. Interestingly, only the youngest daughter, known as “Ka Khadduh,” is eligible to inherit the ancestral property.

Language and Beliefs

The Khasi people speak the Khasi language, which belongs to the Khasic group of Austroasiatic languages. While the majority of Khasis are now Christian, their traditional beliefs revolved around a supreme being, the Creator – U Blei Nongthaw, and deities associated with water, mountains, and other natural elements.

As the 34th Seng Khihlang festival draws to a close, it serves as a reminder of the rich cultural heritage and resilience of the Khasi people. The symbolic exchange of the Monolith not only celebrates their unity but also ensures the preservation of their indigenous faith and traditions for generations to come.

Sumit Arora

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