Intro : Khasi Community of North-East India displays its traditional dance form ‘Shad Suk Mynsiem’ (dance of peaceful hearts) to celebrate the festival of harvest in the
mountainous State of Meghalaya God on April 13.
Dance and colourful displays in the Khasi Community of North-East are as old as the culture itself, however, when it started and where; there is no mention in the community itself. But as far as the oral education is concern, and of which storytelling is a part, according to legendary tale of “The Cock and The Sun” and it is understood that the dance in Khasi started from that time when the cock able to bring back the sun to earth from its hiding place and lighted the whole earth with its brilliance, as it is now. The creatures were filled with happiness to have the sun back and they started to dance with carefree joy and jubilation. The different types of dances pronging today are the manifestations of the once upon on a time prototype dance embracing all creatures–human animals, birds, insect etc.
‘Shad Suk Mynsiem’ means only the inner feeling of attachment with the God, the creator whose love and care is pervading without beginning and end among us. It is companied with lot of fun and games. No prayer no scarifies; only a sense of devotion and gratitude prevail up on this occasion. It displays the richness of Khasi cultural heritage and at the same time, it tells upon the legacy of our great forbears. ‘Shad Suk Mynsiem’ is dance of peaceful and joyful hearts usually held in the month of March and April. In one hand, beacuse it is wise to connect with the divine when the nature is at its best form; and in the other hand, springtime is the end time where complete harvest is fully assured. All ‘Shad Suk Mynsiem’ that are spreading through the length and breadth of the Khasi Hills are alike in essence to pay obeisance to god, the creator for the abundant blessings he had showered the year round; and, to invoke him too for the good and plentiful harvest of the years to come.
Although a mélange of dance forms is found showcasing different culture varieties, yet most impressive one in this locality is the 'Shad Beh Sing Khalai', a particular dance aborigine to this area. In this dance we can feel or understand the family binding and social binding concept of Khasis. The dancers are dancing in pair the male leading the female and wherever he goes she follows, with awe and loyalty. This kind of gender differentiation as exhibited in the field unfolds before our eyes the nuptial closeness at hearth and subtle nature of laying couple, his masculine presence is felt inside the hut whereas she pays him total submission above wealth and privileges.
To bring more meaning to the term of the dance called 'Ka Shad Beh Sing Khalai' , the band of tune players called the Duhali are also playing different tuner while the dancer are engaging with mellifluous flow of the music that filled the whole field. Everybody in the dancing ground, has to dance in rhythm with the tune of the drum and the pipe (Shartai); and while doing so every dancer has to be consistent , rounding the vertical post in the middle of the field, and cover the whole dancing ground usually bounded by bamboo periphery.
Preparation of this festival is a very expensive business. It involved huge expenditure with lakhs of rupees to go. People has to spare two three days for voluntary works for preparation of the dancing. The committee is responsible for all arrangements taken charged by different groups as assigned for various duties involved. In this imitation age where foreign culture, thoughts, religion & beliefs could easily penetrate in to the fabric of Khasis culture by targeting at the soft, it is seen that ours is whittling gradually. But yet, the time is still there if we awake and lay no more in slumber. Non-convert Khasis have cultural orgnisations called Seng Khasi that is the now tapping roots almost at every nook and corner of these lovely Hills. Now it's an issue of identity crisis. We know and it’s true as sunshine “loss of religion is loss of culture which is given by the creators and loss of Culture is a loss of identity”.
(With inputs from Swapnil Sherwale, Shillong)