If you think the northeastern state of Meghalaya is just thunder clouds and a vast green landscape, you are wrong! The mesmerizing culture, spectacular charm from its deep caves, lush green forests, and cascading waterfalls make the state of Meghalaya a dream place to visit. Meghalaya cultural festivals are celebrated with great pomp where the elders pass on the tradition to the younger generations making them more aware of their culture.
When translated, the name Meghalaya means abode of clouds. Although many festivals are celebrated in this Noth-Eastern state, read on to know more about the prominent Meghalaya festivals that represent their culture.
Meghalaya Festivals and Culture You Should Plan a Trip Around:
To experience the rich tradition and culture of Meghalaya, you need to plan a trip to this beautiful place during some of the famous festivals. We present you with some of the prominent Meghalaya festivals you need to have an idea about.
1. Behdeinkhlam Festival:
Behdeinkhlam is a festival of Meghalaya celebrated for four days by the Jaintia clan of the Niamtre religion. It is celebrated before sowing season and is believed to ward off evils successfully. During this festival, there are various rituals and sacrifices performed as a tradition. For example, men of the Janitia clan play a game similar to soccer but with a wooden ball called Datlawakor. It is believed to bring good fortune and produce to people who win this game. The colourful bright events attract the locals and tourists to Meghalaya.
Key Attraction: Number of tall bamboo structures decorated with tinsel and coloured paper.
Where: Villages of Jaintia hills and Jowai town.
Duration of Festival: Four days.
2. Wangala Festival:
The Wangala festival marks the end of the agricultural year and is celebrated by the Garo people in Meghalaya. This festival is a thanksgiving for the god of fertility, Misi-A-Gilpa-Saljong-Galapa. Also called the hundred drums festival, men and women gracefully dance while beating Nagara. Women are dressed in colourful dresses of silk, blouses, and feather head-wrap, while men usually wear dhotis, half-coats, and turbans.
Key Attraction: Men playing a hundred drums.
When: September to December.
Duration of Festival: Two days.
3. Seng Kut Snem:
Seng Kut Snem is a festival celebrating the faith and culture of the Khasi faith and marks the prominence of the Seng Khasi movement. On November 23, 1899, sixteen young men formed an organization called the Khasi Young Men’s association to preserve the indigenous way of life under assault by the British. Thus, Seng Kut Snem was first celebrated as the first anniversary of the Khasi young men’s association. The association was renamed Seng Khasi in 1901 and is celebrated every year to commemorate the movement. Instead, this occasion is a community prayer protecting the distinct identity of the Khasi race, unlike the new year celebrations in many other communities. Elders impart oral teachings, conduct programs about traditional faith, beliefs, behaviour, etiquette, customs of the Khasi culture during the celebration.
Key Attraction: Thousands of people show up in their finest traditional clothing to celebrate this festival.
Duration of Festival: One day.
4. Shad Suk Mynsiem Festival:
Shad Suk Mynsiem is an important festival for the Khasi clans but is also celebrated by Jaintia and Garo clans. This festival is celebrated by the people of Meghalaya in April every year. This festival is also known as ‘Move of cheerful hearts’ and is an extraordinary celebration of moves and invites all Khasis to celebrate the dance festival. Another name of this festival is Shad Phur and is observed in a span of three days. The Shad suk mynsiem festival symbolizes fetility cult, representing men as cultivators who cultivate, nourish the yield, and protect the nurse, while women represent the bearer of seeds.
Key Attraction: The colourful dance performed beside the Weiking grounds in Shillong.
Where: Weiking grounds.
Duration of Festival: Three days.
5. Nongkrem Dance Festival:
The Nongkrem Festival is one of the famous festivals celebrated among the Khasi group. It is celebrated with pomp and gaiety every year in Smit, and Syiem performs the rituals. Ka Syiem Sad is considered the caretaker of the ceremonies and people since they are the head of the Khasi state. This festival is celebrated for the prosperity of the people, good harvest, and peace. Men perform Shad Mystieh while circling young women who perform the Shad Kynthei. The circle males form around young women represents the protection and male power of men over women. Many people all around the world visit Meghalaya to be a part of the Nongkrem festival.
Key Attraction: Traditional dresses, Delicious Khasi food, Shad Mystieh dance.
Duration of Festival: Five days.
6. Shad Sukra:
Shad Sukra is a festival celebrated in Meghalaya every year before the sowing season by the Jaintia people. Only after the commencement of this festival that the sowing of seeds takes place. Men and women participate in this festival wearing traditional outfits covered in gold ornaments. They pray to protect their crops from calamities and for a fruitful and good harvest. In addition, men and women perform rituals, dance, and music accompanied by drums and flute.
Key Attraction: Dance and rituals accompanied by drums and flute.
Where: West Jaintia Hills, Jowai town.
Duration of Festival: Three days.
7. Cherry Blossom Festival:
November is the month cold air ruffles your hair in every part of India, but Meghalaya merrily basks in the glory of pretty pink cherry blossoms. These beautiful flowers mark the beginning of the Indian version of autumn by turning the state capital and East Khasi hills pink. The cherry blossom festival celebrated the unique autumn flowering of Himalayan cherry blossoms in November. You can experience the art and craft of the region along with a plethora of activities like a beauty pageant, live music gigs, storytelling sessions, bicycle rallies, etc.
Key Attraction: Along with cherry blossoms, rock concerts, bike rallies, dance performances.
8. Shillong Autumn Festival:
Shillong Autumn Festival is one of those festivals that marks the season’s onset and is a well-known festival in India. It is a cultural extravaganza that reflects the culture of the nation and is mainly celebrated in Shillong. You can find a beautiful transformation of the capital city into the center of fun and frolic, making it an attractive spot for tourists. In addition, you can find a display of several handicrafts, food, and wine festival, fashion show, etc., to keep tourists and locals interested.
Key Attraction: Music performances, wine, food festival, Flower shows, display of handicraft items.
When: October – November.
Duration of Festival: One day.
See More: Tourist Attraction Spots in Meghalaya
The beautiful state of Meghalaya offers a unique experience for tourists and tradition-enthusiasts alike. The Meghalaya festivals give you a taste of the unique and rich culture of the people and place, enriching your experience. Don’t forget to share the information with your friends; let us know if the article was helpful.
1. What is the Indian state Meghalaya famous for?
- The beautiful state of Meghalaya is home to a variety of medicinal plants, spices, vegetables, and fruits.
- It is also famous for the nearly 325 variety of orchids.
2. What are some of the must-buys when you visit Meghalaya?
Ans: If you are planning a getaway to this beautiful state, here are a few authentic things about the place and help you cherish the memory of the visit.
- Scottish cloth.
- Organic products.
- Handicrafts made out of bamboo.
- Stoles and shawls.
3. What is the staple food you can find in Meghalaya?
Ans: Consumed in different forms and varieties, Rice is a staple food of Meghalaya. There are several famous and yummy curry dishes where rice is a perfect accompaniment. One of the crowd’s favourite rice dishes of Meghalaya is Pumaloi.