Ka Pomblang Nongkrem, Shillong, India

‘Ka Pomblang Nongkrem’ is the most enjoyable harvest festival of the Khasis celebrated in the month of November in Meghalaya, also known as ‘Shad Nongkrem’. In this five day long festival, people from all over the world gather together at Smit, the capital of Khyrem Syiemship near Shillong and enjoy the occasion of thanksgiving to the ‘Goddess Ka Blei Synshar’ for rich harvest and prosperity of the people. As the name ‘Pomblang’ indicates it’s a day for decapitation of goats.

In this festival goats are offered by subjects to the ‘Syiem’ of Khyrem(, are sacrificed) and offerings are made to the ancestor and ancestress of the ruling clan and the deity of Shillong peak (U-Lei Shillong), followed by a ritual ceremony presided by ‘Ka Syiem Sad’, the chief priest and ‘Syiem’ being the administrative head of the Hima (Khasi State). The Khasis are a matrilineal society and the date of this festival is decided by the ‘Syiem’ (King) and announced by the ‘Ka Syiem Sad’ (King’s eldest sister). A sanctification ceremony of the Tangmuri (pipes) is also a part of this ritual. After this ritual ceremony, on the fourth day, Khasi men and women perform the famous Nongkrem dance, dressed in traditional splendor with full excitement.

At dawn-break on the fourth day, a maiden dance is held in which youngsters from the ‘Syiem’ house take part and the ‘Ka Syiem Sad’ shaded by an umbrella, dance with great solemnity. This is called an opening dance or royal dance which is generally performed by the ‘Syiem’ before the dance begins. For the Nongkrem dance, young lads brilliantly clad in colorful silk dhotis, coat and a plumed turban, adorning glittering ornaments dance around with a sword or spear in one hand and usually a white Yak hair whisk in their left hand with changing beats of drums and the musical sound of the Tangmuri.

Pretty maidens in magnificent silk-robes,( and )elaborately decked with intricately designed ornaments of gold and silver and wearing a silver crown, move in an inner circle in two’s and three’s in tiny steps while lads form a protective ring around them flashing their weapons. The men’s dancing is more vigorous and energetic. This festival is a time for prayer and divination, offering its tourists a glimpse into the customs of the Khasis. It also emphasizes the importance of women in the Khasi society. The festival ends on the Fifth day with the ‘Syiem’ offering a prayer of thanksgiving to the Creator.

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