Shillong (Meghalaya) , Feb 01 : The annual pilgrimage to U Lum Sohpetbneng, began with the initiation ceremony at Law Nongthroh, then at the Mawbuh sacrosanct and at the summit of Lum Sohpetbneng.
Lum Sohpetbneng is a Khasi legendary peak with an altitude of 1434 meters above sea level believed to be the umbilical link between the nine spiritual and the seven temporal families, which were once the celestial beings residing in heaven.
On Jan 26 last, at dawn there was the rituals at the precinct of Nongthroh forest near the excavation site. The main celebrant Rangbah Skor Jala performed the ceremony along with few religious elders to appease the deity of Raij Mawbuh.
Initially, the ceremony was performed under the aegis of the Mawbuh council of elders from the four clans of Rangslang, Shylla, Manar and Shadap. For the past few decades the council could not organise the ceremony due to certain constraints, significantly the conversion in to Christianity by few of the vital and responsible elders.
Thereafter, it was intervened by one of the prominent elders of Seng Khasi, H O Mawrie through a communication with the Seng Khasi Mawlai. The Seng Khasi Mawlai took up the matter with the apex organisation, the Seng Khasi Kmie and the Lum Sohpetbneng Committee was formulated under the leadership of Sumar Sing Sawian and Dipshon Nongbri, where it was entrusted for reviving the ancient ceremony.
Since the year 2000 the pilgrimage and ceremony are being held annually at the summit of Sohpetbneng peak.
After the ceremony at Nongthroh forest, the pilgrim trekked towards the stone sacrosanct of the divine mother of Mawbuh. A mound was prepared to perform the ceremony of sacrifice of fowls and egg divination. After that , the celebrants led the purification ceremony of bathing the boulder believed to be the abode of the divine mother of Mawbuh, where all the pilgrims participated in the ceremony, including the chieftain of Mylliem province, Ainam Sing Syiem.
Subsequently the pilgrims ascend to the summit of Sohpetbneng peak and the celebrants performed the sacred rituals at the altar to appease the deity. The ceremony was also performed for strengthening the human essence with the rice grain traditionally gifted and blessed by the queen mother of Mawbuh.
Later, the rice grain was distributed to all the pilgrims as they paid obeisance to the divine creator of humankind. The myth of Sohpetbneng peak narrated about the genesis of human race on earth, where the seven celestial families descended from heaven through the golden vine entwined across the ficus and oak trees simultaneously.
Interestingly, this year there was an archaeological excavation by an academic team led by Dr Marco Mitri, where remnants of ancient settlement were discovered along with a large number of litho and metal antique implements used by the Khasi ancestors.
The discovery substantiated the authenticity of the Khasi myth about the beginning of mankind on the planet earth. The devotees would participate in the pilgrimage on Sunday with the marking of lime on the boulder at the arched entrance in the foothill of Sohpetbneng peak.
Thousands of devotees from all over Eastern Meghalaya will walk around fifteen kilometres to reach the summit of Sohpetbneng peak, while a large number of visitors shall witness the solemn ceremony and the spectacular convergence of people from all over the country, including foreign tourists.
The versatile exponent of Khasi heritage, Sumar Sing Sawian said that the altar at the summit of Sohpetbneng peak has the coordinates of 25° 42″ North Latitude and 91° 55″ East Longitude, which is the centre point of the eastern part of the globe and synchronised with the Khasi mythical terminology as Ka Ri Shongpdeng Pyrthei, literally meaning The Nation at the Centre of the Earth or the Eastern World.