The Khasi
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The Khasi

Vibrant villagers

Vibrant villagers

Deep in the districts of East Meghalaya live the Khasi communities. They have various names depending on the region they live in. You may hear of Jaintias, Pnars, Bhois and Wars. But they are all part of the same ethic lineage. As well as Khasi, they are sometimes referred to collectively as the Hynniewtrep people.
Snapshot

Snapshot

  • Region is Southern Asia

  • Climate here is Tropical

  • The challenge here is Medium

  • This trip has been rated 5 by other travelers

Life

Life

Life tends to focus around various types of farming and hunting. Rice grows well in the region and provides the main staple for Khasi diets. But they also trap wild birds, hunt, and raise livestock.

Rice beer is fermented and the Khasi make spirits too. But these are mostly consumed during ceremonies rather than in everyday life.
Home

Home

An intricate system of small streets connect up the Khasi villages. Round-roofed houses are built close together to form greater protection during storms. These buildings typically have three rooms; a storage room, a living room, and a bedroom.

In more modern Khasi villages, you’ll find more public buildings such as churches and schools.

Culture

Social Structure

In Khasi society, women look after the home and the land while men support the family financially. Often, the maternal uncle will settle all religious and social matters. There are some more conservative Khasi families where the father is only to visit the family home at night and are not at all responsible for the care of their wife or children.

Religion

The Khasi people have mostly converted to Christianity in recent years. Their traditional religion centered around a supreme being, The Creator U Blei Nongthaw, and various lesser gods.

Traditions

There is a vast tradition of singing in Khasi culture. Many of their songs praise nature and all its elements, and are accompanied by musical instruments such as drums, duitaras, and ones similar to guitars, flutes, pipes, and cymbals.

Clothing is also a major part of Khasi tradition. Women will wear a type of dress called a jainsem and adorn themselves with jewelry such as stunning kynjri ksiar pendants of 24 carrot gold.

Language

Mon-Khmer is a language belonging to the Austroasiatic family.

Art

Weaving is the main art form in Khasi society. They weave stools and baskets but have become famous for the tlieng, traditional cane mats.

Celebrations

Khasi festivities are often vibrant and joyous affairs.

Nongkrem Dance: This religious festival is held annually in October/November. It takes place at Smit (the capital of the Khyrim Syiemship region) and honours the God Almighty, asking for a good harvest, peace, and prosperity.

Shad Suk Mynsiem: Also known as the Dance of the Joyful Heart, this important celebration is held in Shillong every April.
Further knowledge

Further knowledge

Meghalaya has intensely rich fauna and flora among its abundant forests, national parks and natural reserves. It is a stunning location for trekking and there’s always a chance to spot rare animals.



Photo credit: KrangSuri Falls Meghalaya
iStock.com/AmitRane1975

Other photos credit: Gaurav Bhatnagar