Meghalaya: Three day Shad Nongkrem festival starts today

Meghalaya’s famous Shad Nongkrem festival is starting today with the main festival dance tomorrow. The ‘Nongkrem Dance,’ will be celebrated at Smit, the cultural centre of the Khasi Hills.

Shad Nongkrem is celebrated all across the state of Meghalaya to appease the all-powerful Goddess ‘Ka Blei Synshar’, in the hopes of gaining a bountiful harvest and prosperity. The Nongkrem celebration is primarily held to please the highly strong Goddess Ka Blei Synchar, who is believed to be responsible for a bountiful harvest.

The ceremony at Shad Nongkrem is performed by the Syiem (King) of Hima Khyrim and the high priest. He sacrifices a cock or a goat as an oblation to Lei Shyllong, the God of Shillong Peak. The ‘Pomblang’ (goat sacrifice) and offerings presented to the ruling clan’s ancestor and ancestress are an integral part of the event.

The dance, which is the festival’s main attraction, is performed by unmarried young Khasi girls and the tribe’s men. Ka Shad Mastieh is the name of the male-only dance. The male holds a sword in their right hand and a white Yak hair whisk in their left hand, maintaining the time to the changing beats of drums and playing of the tangmuri or pipes.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma wished the people of the state on Shad Nongkrem.

Taking to Twitter, CM Sangma wrote,” Shad Nongkrem celebrates the uniqueness of the Khasi culture. On the auspicious occasion, I wish the people of #Meghalaya a happy Shad Nongkrem! May bonds deeply rooted in peace & harmony strengthen our communities.”

People visit the dancing arena and the surrounding hills, where a colorful fair featuring local handicrafts and foods is hosted every year on occasion. The Nongkrem Dance attracts many tourists, both domestic and foreign, over the years.