As we mentioned in our previous article, we didn’t really cover everything about Meghalaya. This article too cannot provide an exhaustive list of Meghalaya facts because there is way too many facts to write about. So, instead of even trying to give a complete list, we will try to accommodate as many important facts as possible about this unique state of the Seven Sisters of India. These facts will be somewhat weird and will be a bit difficult to digest but hey, they are pretty interesting too as they give a glimpse of the treasures hidden in the Abode of Clouds!
Seven Sisters of India Facts – Meghalaya Facts: 1-5
1. We spoke of the Sacred Groves of Meghalaya in our last list of Meghalaya facts. But did you know that the tribal folks of this state actually think there is a mystical animal, perhaps a tiger or a serpent (snake) that is responsible for preserving the forests from miscreants (we humans)?
2. Every Sacred Grove in this state has an altar – a sacred one. Altars may vary from one forest to another. Some may be monoliths. Others may be altars with massive stone covering from all sides with a small entrance space in the front. You don’t really enter such altars using the small opening left in front. Those opening are meant only for the purpose of thanksgiving.
3. In 2015, Meghalaya hosted the Indigenous Terra Madre (a food gathering of indigenous tribes across the world). That event entered the Guinness Book of World Records. Well, that itself is a fact but did you know that while the preparations were being made, an alternative road was being constructed that paved its way from back side of Mawphlang’s Sacred Grove? It wasn’t easy building the road because of shortage of space and the construction company asked the workers to cut through a patch of land that belonged to the Sacred Grove. The work was halted for 1 full day when suddenly, out of nowhere, snakes started emerging out of that land patch. Mysterious, ain’t it? What really happened next is not really known. No records for that anywhere. It might be safe to assume that company was perhaps forced to leave the land patch untouched. Or, did they cut through it to bust the myth (it at all so)? If you know about it, let us know. We will be happy to update the same.
4. “U Ba-sa Ryngkew” is the God of the land of Meghalaya and when it comes to Sacred Groves, people don’t really break the rules laid down by their ancestors fearing that U Ba-sa Ryngkew will punish them in every possible manner.
5. And yes… don’t you even dare to take anything from the Sacred Groves because they are forest property. Don’t forget! Non-adherence to rules will mean very severe punishments if not death.
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Seven Sisters of India Facts – Meghalaya Facts: 6-10
6. Coming to the indigenous Khasi tribe, their favorite breakfast every morning is a cup of tea with a hint of sugar and guess what? A bowl of rice with a couple of pieces of either pork or chicken. So, it is tea, rice and meat!
7. It might be a common sight to find stones in bathrooms of Khasi people. They do use loofah but yes, they prefer the stones over loofah. It is a bathing stone found only on the banks of Umngot River. The reason why stones are preferred over loofah is that if they aren’t dried properly, bacteria accumulation will take place, making it unhealthy. The stones on the other hand are better in this aspect. Did you know that the Meghalayan word for loofah is ‘Sohprew’?
8. While you may come across websites that say that only the youngest daughter of the family inherits all the family wealth, the truth is that they believe in the concept Khun Khatduh. The concept simply means that the person in the family who will take care of the parents and elders (that is, takes the burden of looking after the elders) is the one who gets to inherit the property. Khun refers to that person who can be a son or even a daughter. Khatduh on the other hand means taking the burden.
9. Weddings among Khasi people are usually big ceremonial weddings. People outside the family also contribute to these weddings because they just feel being a part of those weddings. That doesn’t necessarily mean that “Ka teh synjat” (that is ceremony of tying knots) is never an internal family matter. Such marriages do occur and are small family weddings.
10. While weddings are pretty common, don’t be surprised to see that live in relationships are also abound. However, such relationships usually require family acceptance and instead of the father, it is the uncle who acts as family head in such cases and provide consent. Did you know that live in relationships between Khasi people is a very old practice whereas people in mainland India’s modern landscape are still not very open to such relationships?