“Behdienkhlam” Festival at Jowai, Meghalaya (Download PDF)

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Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) attended famous 4-day Meghalaya Annual Cultural Festival, “Behdienkhlam”, held every year at small peripheral town of Jowai, Meghalaya.

Image of Behdienkhlam Festival in Jowai Town

Image of Behdienkhlam Festival in Jowai Town

Image of Behdienkhlam Festival in Jowai Town

Facts on Behdienkhlam Festival

  • Most popular festival of Jaintia tribe, Behdienkhlam is celebrated in July for good health, property & bumper harvest.

  • Behdienkhlam is celebrated all over Jaintia hills, main spectacle happens in town of Jowai, about 64 km away from Shillong.

  • Non-Christian ‘Pnar’ people who believe in traditional faith of ‘Niamtre’ & Hinduism observe this festival.

Image of behdeinkhlam festival and meghalaya - India

Image of Behdeinkhlam Festival and Meghalaya - India

Image of behdeinkhlam festival and meghalaya - India

  • Jowai town was once covered by thick forest, w/o any human habitation. It was home of 5 deities, 4 stones & river nymph.
  • 4 huge stones can still be seen at 4 corners of Jowai town. 5 deities wished that god would send humans to settle in this region, & wandering Mongolian tribe arrived in this forest.
  • To celebrate presence of humans, ‘U-Mokhai’ eldest of deities began ceremonial dance. Upon seeing thunder & noise from dance, tribes got scared & began to flee. U-Mokhai addressed them that they are safe & are meant to inhabit this forest.
  • Festival begins w/sacrificing pig to ‘Knia Pyrthat’ (Thunder) followed by ‘Wasan’ (Priest) ringing brass bell along main road of town to point where forest begins.
  • Rounded, polished & tall trunks of tree are felled in sacred forest & are left in woods for couple of days. Trunks are then brought to town w/great fanfare, dancing & singing.
  • On 4th day, youth of town led by priest visit each & every home, climb to roof & beat it w/bamboo stick to chase away any evil spirits.
  • People display their artistic skills by erecting ‘rots’ (tall bamboo structures decorated w/colour paper & tinsel). Rots are carried to ‘Aitnar site’, where women & men gather. Rots arrive & polished, rounded logs are thrown into river. Dancing men rush & try to balance themselves on rolling & slippery logs.
  • At the end, ‘Dad-Lawakor’, type of football is played w/wooden ball.

Significance of Behdienkhlam Festival

  • 4-day festival is very strong, emotional, sentimental, cultural & spiritual importance for people living in this area.

- Published/Last Modified on: September 9, 2018

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