Shillong (Meghalaya), April 10 : Khasi hills of Meghalaya is known as the land of dance and songs with a wide variety of unique instruments and music. Khasi people believe that God exists in everyone, be it an animal, human, or an object.
They celebrate the Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem festival signifying the same every year in the month of April
The three-day traditional thanksgiving dance began at Jaiaw’s Lympung Weiking ground on Saturday.
The term Shad Suk Mynsiem literally means the dance for peace and mind. It is called the festival of a blissful soul. The festival is symbolic where the women stand for the seeds and the men are the metaphors of the cultivators. Though every village annually organizes this festival, a very elaborate and vast celebration is held at Shillong. This dance is annually organized by the Seng Khasi .
The three-day Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem festival began with the ‘Shad Nahkjat’. It is a brief opening dance. It starts with a prayer meeting in the Seng Hall Wankhar. Then from that site, the drummers, the pipers, and some of the male members reach the dance site. They were followed by a cheering and joyous crowd.
The actual dance starts towards the evening. There is also ‘Shad Wait‘. This part is very beautiful as both males and females take equal participation here. The male performers dance with swords in their right hands and the whitefly flap in their left hand whereas the female artists dance in one big circle.
After ‘Shad Wait’, there comes ‘Shad Mastieh‘ which means warrior dance. Here men and women dance in pairs. On the third and the last day, all the performers and the participants say goodbye to the festival by circling the ground thrice and then going back by dancing merrily.
The performers are elegantly dressed in their traditional attire along with gorgeous ornaments. The female performers wear a crown of pure silver with a white flower called Tiew lasuban attached to the back of the crown. This flower carries the symbolism of purity and beauty.
On the other hand, the male dancer carries a silver quiver with silver arrows on their back. This is the symbol of the pride, valor, and courage shown by their fore fathers in order to protect the land and the chastity and purity of the women. The entire land seems like a beautiful canvas painted with a red and yellow hue.
In the vast ground, the female dancers dance in a circle surrounded by men from all four sides. This represents the male as the protector. But the irony of the festival Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem is that it is also known as Weiking Dance where the women dancers carry a white handkerchief that stands for their maidenhood and virginity. But on the contrary, there is no such restriction or custom for the males.
In this dance festival, the music changes from time to time. According to its rhythm and tune the steps or the pattern of the dance changes. The women dance bare-footed by shuffling, gracefully in the forward and backward motion with their cast down. This reflects their feminine nature whereas the men dance by moving fast with lively and strong steps surrounding the women. This reflects the masculinity representing the men as the savior and the protector of the land, and its inhabitants.
The hills get filled with the sound of drums, pipes. The music echoes everywhere in the valley. The life of Khasi people is not complete without this festival.