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Arts

Dance | Entertainments


Dance - Shad Sukmynsiem | Shad Nongkrem | Doregata | Do Dru-su'a | Laho Dance

Dance

Dances are held at an open ground or premises of felling sad and public places. There are two traditional dances of the Khasis.

1) Shad Sukmynsiem or Weiking dance

2) Shad Nongkrem or Pomblang Nongkrem

The Shad Sukmynsiem (Dance of the Blissful Heart)  is popularly known as Shad Weiking. It is so called after the name of the ground where the dance used to be held every year. A thanksgiving festival , Shad Suk Mynesiem is a symbolic offering of salutations to God, homage to their ancestors and proclamation of unity of the Khasi people.  There is no fixed date for this dance. It used to be held during the month of April of each year. This is the most popular dance among the Khasis. It is organised by the Seng Khasi (Khasi Religion). The dances last for three days. Only  unmarried men and women are allowed to take part in the dance. Youngsters and damsels from different part of Khasi hills participate in the dance. The Shad Sukmynsiem welcomes the whole of the Khasi community to take part in the dance. There was no bar for any one to take part in the dance since it is the traditional dance of the Khasis. Christians or Hindus as long as they belong to Khasi community could take part in this dance. Young lads brilliantly clad in colourful silk dhotis, coat and a plumed turban and adorning glittering ornaments look like Rajput Princes. They dance around with a sword or spear in one hand and a plume in the other. Pretty maidens in magnificent many-splendoured silk-robes and elaborately decked in priceless intricately designed ornaments of gold and silver and wearing a silver crown emerge before use as apsaras from the world beyond. These 'angels' move in an inner circle in two's and three's in tiny steps while the lads form a protective ring around them and flashing their weapons. The embroidery on the girl's apparel and the workmanship of their ornaments , many of them handed down for generations  as heirlooms, can made even an aristocratic millionaire envious. It is difficult to see how the European missionaries could so heartlessly condemn these fine expressions of blissful hearts as 'barbaric'. The dancers dance rhythmatically making regular movements and keeping time with the beat of the drum and pipe (Tanguari). Damsels (unmarried) dressed colourfully in their very originality and making tiny steps in the centre while men folks with swords and sometimes with shields in their hands encircling them.

Another folk dance of the Khasis, Shad Nongkrem is associated with Ka Pomblang Nongkrem. Like all other ceremonies of the Meghalayans, it is performed to propitiate the all powerful Goddess Ka Blei Synshar for a rich bounteous harvest and prosperity of the people (subject). There is no fixed date for this festival. It is generally celebrated in November of every year. 

The Syiem of Khyrim accompanied by the high priest performs the Pomblang ceremony. He offers oblation to a Lei Shyllong; the god of Shyllong peak by sacrificing a cock. Goats are killed during the ceremony.

The Nongkrem dance is associated with the Pomblang Nongkrem. When the ceremony has been performed by the Syiem and the high priest, the Nongkrem dance starts. At drawn-break on that day a maiden dance is held in which virgins from the Syiem house take part and the Syiem Sad shaded by an umbrella, dance with great solemnity.

This is called an opening dance or royal dance which is generally done by the Syiem before the dance starts. When the royal dance is finished, youngsters and damsels of the Khyrim Syiemship enters the field and the dance of U Khun U Raiot (subjects) of the Hima Khyrim (Khyrim Syiemship) starts. The dance lasts for three days, the last day or the third day is the biggest of all. Unmarried males and females from four corners of the Khyaim Syiemship take part in the dance.

Another dance among the Khasis is Doregata in which the women try to knock off the turbans of their male partners, using their heads. Another dance that the performer dangles a pomelo or any other fruit on a cord tied to his waist and then whirls it round and round after the initial impetus with a barely perceptible movement of his hips. Some experts can control two separate pomelos in this way. 

The Garos have traditional dance called Do Dru-su'a in which two women dance like doves pecking each other.

For entertainment, the Pnars have their Laho dance, in which members of both sex participate in their festival finery. Usually two young men on either side of a girl , linking arms together dance in steps. While in place of pipe and drum there is a 'Cheer leader', usually a man with the gift of impromptu recitation who recite disrespectfully humorous lines for the enjoyment of the audience.

 

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