(Last Updated on : 12/12/2008)
Racially, the Khasis are very similar to the Indo-Chinese tribes but are by no means pure Mongoloid. At some early period they must have intermarried with another race predominantly the Austric race. Intermarriage with people of Aryan descent is a recent phenomenon. Generally, they are descendants of Mon-Khmer speakers who migrated from Yunnan to Meghalaya, and thus they are of East Asian origin. The skin color of most Khasi varies from light brown to light yellow. They have high nasal bridges and aquiline noses. Their looks ranges from those of typical East Asians to Central Asians or even Persians are not uncommon. The Khasi have preserved features common to Nicobarese and Yunnanese. They are similar in appearance to their northern Mon-Khmer relatives, most notably the Palaung and Wa.
The Khasi, who call themselves 'Ki Khasi', live in two districts of Meghalaya State in India. The Khasi designation for the Khasi Hills section is Ka Ri Khásí and that of the Jaintia Hills section is Ka Ri Synten. They are also found in parts of Bangladesh where they call themselves 'Hynniew', which means 'the seven huts' in the Khasi language. According to a popular legend of Khasi-Pnars there was a time when all sixteen families, dwelt in heaven. People used to descend daily by the jingkieng ksiar (which literally means the' golden. ladaer ' but is actually meant to refer to a celestial pathway connecting heaven and earth) to come down to the earth and cultivate. This continued until one day it was irretrievably destroyed. The seven families or Seven Huts who were on earth thus remained here forever and from them the race multiplied. Most Khasi are Presbyterian or Roman Catholic, although there is a tiny Unitarian presence, as well. Some Khasi reside in the hilly areas of Sylhet, Bangladesh.
Ki Hynniew Trep were the original settlers of KG Ri Hynniew Trep, known since the advent of the British as the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. Prior to its occupation by the British, in the third decade of the nineteenth century, this country extended towards the Brahmaputra on the north, the Cachar Hills on the east, the Surma on the south and the Garo Hills on the west. The people called now the Khasis or Khyriams, Jaintias or Pnars or Syntengs, War, Bhois and Lyngngams according to the region they inhabit are ethnically one and the same, being the descendants of Ki Hynniew Trep.