Meghalaya was formed by carving out two districts from the state of Assam, the United Khasi Hills and the Jaintia Hills. The north eastern regions have always been the most favourable areas for the origin of rice and it is thus mentioned that the importance of Meghalaya is through the domestication of rice.
Ancient History of Meghalaya
The ancient history of Meghalaya has revealed that there have been settlements of people in the area since the Neolithic era. These newly discovered Neolithic sites were located in areas of high elevation such as in the Garo, Khasi and Jaintia Hills and also in other neighbouring states. They were and still are the chief inhabitants of the state of Meghalaya. The history of Meghalaya is associated with these three predominant tribes inhabiting the state since centuries.
Modern History of Meghalaya
Apart from accounts of the more important Khasi kingdoms in the chronicles of the neighbouring Ahoms and Kacharis, little is known of Meghalaya prior to the British period. But as per contemporary records, the Khasis were known to be the earliest immigrants of the state and they had made their way across northern Myanmar to Assam. The Khasis symbolize the Mon- Khmer language of south- East Asia. The Khasis, Jaintias and the Garos had their own kingdom then, which came under the British administration in 19th century.
In the year 1765, the British came to Sylhet, currently in Bangladesh. The Khasis used to visit Pandua, the border of Sylhet, for trade purposes and the state of Bengal used to import limestone from the Khasi Hills. Eventually the British started trading in limestone and developed contact with the Khasis.
Previously, Meghalaya was part of Assam but emerged as an autonomous state on 21st January, 1972. The autonomous state had a 37 member legislature in accordance with the Sixth Schedule to the Indian constitution. This marked the beginning of a new era of geo political history of north east India. During the British rule, the imperialist authorities nicknamed Meghalaya as the 'Scotland of the East' and the official language spoken then was English. Currently, the other languages spoken here include Khasi, Garo, Jaintia, Assamese and Bengali.
Unlike the other Indian states, where patriarchy is at forefront, Meghalaya has historically followed a matrilineal system where the lineage and inheritance are traced through women. The youngest daughter inherits all wealth and is also supposed to take care of her parents.