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What’s Held Sacred by Prabhakar Duwarah

Updated: Aug 25, 2018


"The Khasi Tribes of Meghalaya are indigenous to the eastern side of the Indian State and are scattered across some parts of bordering Assam and North of Bangladesh. Before the Welsh missionaries arrived, bringing with them Christianity and advocating a script for the indigenous group comprised of Latin alphabets, the Khasis had their own belief system rooted in animism and nature worship, having a very strong association between nature and U Blei (the almighty).Traditions, beliefs and customs were inculcated orally, through folktales, stories and myths.


Environmental consciousness was rife in the culture of the people; and to protect their lands from deforestation and environmental degradation, the subtribes of the Khasis residing in the highlands denoted a few forests, which host very rich ecological systems, as Sacred Groves or ‘Law Kyntang’. Often, monoliths or Mawbynnas, would be found near these sacred groves, representing the sacredness of the area on which they are found.


Swer is a village 30kms. from the state capital of Shillong where one of these sacred groves can be found. The people from this village are literate, in the sense that most of them have completed a certain level of education but employment opportunities are scarce in these parts. Due to such problems, the leaders of the village have decided to let the area be open to eco-tourism and to construct systematic foundations to let people from the outside to indulge themselves in their culture and the beauty of their land but under certain conditions. The project will be overlooked by the locals, themselves, so that they can make a self-sustainable environment in which they can thrive from their own economy and land. The only catch is that whoever visits this area will have to maintain the sanctity of the land, which is the least that the people expect."

-Dabormaïan Jude Kharmawphlang

"These are the people of Swer- on the brink of complete assimilation into what is the modern world, still holding on to whatever they can of their culture, albeit gracefully. This is some sort of virtual gratitude to them for the hospitality I received as an outsider."

-Prabhakar Duwarah


 
 
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