(Last Updated on : 14/08/2012)
Meghalaya is a state located in the North-eastern India and is most notable for its rich cultural diversity and wonderful pictorial villages. The villages of Meghalaya exhibit a great scenic beauty with hilly areas and dense forests. The cultural richness and heritage of the villages of Meghalaya attract many tourists from all over the country every year. A major portion of Meghalaya's total population resides in the rural areas.
People from different religious beliefs live in the villages of Meghalaya. The three major religious communities are Christians, Hindus and Muslims. A major portion of the rural population in Meghalaya is comprised of Christians. Many deities are worshipped in the villages of Meghalaya including Tartar-Robunga, Choradubi, Saljong, Goers, Susine, etc. Apart from the three major religious communities, several tribes also dwell in the villages of Meghalaya. The tribes have their own tradition and culture and they follow different religious customs as well. The major tribes living in the villages of Meghalaya include the Garos, Khasis, Jaintia, Bhoi, War, Achiks, Labangs, Nangphylluts, Nangtungs, etc. The Khasi, Jaintia, Bhoi, War tribes are collectively known as Hynniewtrep people and they predominantly inhabit the villages lying in the districts of East Meghalaya.
The education scenario in the villages of Meghalaya is impressive. A majority of the rural population in the state are educated. The governmental authorities have established many primary schools in the villages to provide primary education to the children. The students can also pursue higher education in the colleges and universities mostly established in the urban areas. New initiatives have been taken to further spread the light of education in all the villages of Meghalaya as well.
Most people in the villages of Meghalaya are dependent on agriculture to earn their livelihoods. The villages receive heavy rainfall due to the south west monsoon and this heavy rainfall helps in the cultivation of crops to a great extent. The major crops cultivated in the villages of Meghalaya include rice, maize; fruits like orange, lemon, pineapple, guava, litchi, banana, jack fruit and the temperate fruits like plum, pear, peach, etc. There are a few crash crops cultivated in the villages of Meghalaya that include potato, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, areca nut, tezpatta, betel vine, short-staple cotton, jute, mesta, mustard and rapseed, etc. The other major crops include the non-traditional crops like tea, cashew nut, oilseeds, tomato, mushroom, wheat, etc.
The residents in the villages of Meghalaya celebrate several fairs and festivals throughout the year. They are cheerful in nature and the festivals serve as their platforms for social communication. The festivals in Meghalaya can be put into two categories like religious festivals and dance festivals. The major religious festivals celebrated in the villages of Meghalaya include Behdienkhlam, Shad Suk Mynsiem, Wangala, Ka Pomblang Nongkrem, Umsan Nongkharai, Saram Cha'A, etc. On the other hand, the most popular dance festivals in the villages of Meghalaya are Doregata Dance Festival, Lahoo Dance Festival, Chambil Mesara or Pomelo Dance Festival, Shad Beh Sier, Wangala, Nongkrem Dance festival, Shad Suk Mynsiem, Behdienkhlam, etc.
Different forms of traditional music and dance are performed by the villagers in Meghalaya during the fairs and festivals. The Garo tribes generally sing folk songs in accompaniments of drums and flutes during the festivals. On the other hand, the Khasis and Jaintias sing their traditional folk songs using the musical instruments like drums, duitara and instruments similar to guitar, flutes, pipes and cymbals. The Khasi males wear their traditional dress named 'Jymphong' and dhoti with an ornamental waist-band during the festivals. The Khasi females wear several pieces of cloth, which give their body a cylindrical shape. They also wear a crown of silver or gold on the head during the festivals.
The diverse cultural identity of the villages of Meghalaya is one of the most attractive features of the state. Many tourists from all over India and abroad visit the villages to experience this wonderful cultural diversity. In this way, the villages of Meghalaya play a major role in the tourism sector of the state.