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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Khasi food in Mawlynnong, the Cleanest Village in Asia – Day 6

Owing to the absence of flat land, no paddy is grown here. The villagers have to depend on Shillong for rice, but they grow betel-nut, betel leaf, broom, black pepper, orange, pineapple and bay leaves.

Suprisingly, the village has 100 per cent literacy and most of the villagers are conversant with English language.

The village offers a number of small tea shops, where we wanted to have some snacks. In one such small tea shop, we had our lunch. The Khasi food was very simple, yet tasty. We had rice, sambar, lady’s finger curry, fish fry and chicken fry.
The hotel
Khasis are a matrilineal society as opposed to a matriarchy, means a family’s lineage is traced through the surname of the wife, with the youngest daughter inheriting all the family’s property. Women are found clothed in their traditional Dhara and one can really feel the woman power when you see them.

Khasi woman serving food
Umer's camera is hungry too...

The three major tribes of Meghalaya have distinct costumes and jewellery. However, with the change of time as in the rest of the country, the males have adopted the western code of dress leaving the ladies to continue the tradition of ethnic sartorial elegance.

The Khasi lady wears a dress called 'Jainsem' which flows loose to the ankles. The upper part of her body is clad in a blouse. Over these, she ties both ends of a checkered cotton cloth on one shoulder, thus improvising on apron. On formal occasions, worn over the 'Jympien' is a long piece of Assam muga silk called 'Ka Jainsem Dhara' which hangs loose below the knees after being knotted or pinned at the shoulders. The 'Tapmohkhlieh' or head-shawl is either worn by knotting both ends behind the neck or is arranged in a stylish manner as done with a shawl.

The Jaintia maidens dresses like her Khasi counterpart but with the additional of a 'Kyrshah' - a checkered cloth tied round the head during harvesting. On formal occasions, however, she dons a velvet blouse, drapes a striped cloth called 'Thoh Khyrwang', sarong style round her waist and knots at her shoulder an Assam muga piece hanging loose to her ankles. In contrast, the Garo women wears a blouse, a raw cotton 'Dakmanda' which resembles a 'Lungi' and the 'Daksari' which wrapped like a 'Mekhla' as worn by Assamese ladies.

The jewellery of the Khasis and the Jaintias are also alike and the pendant is called  'Kynjri Ksiar', being made of 24 carat gold. The  Khasis and the Jaintias also wear a string of thick red coral beads round their neck called 'Paila during festive occasions. The Garo ladies wear Rigitok, which are thin fluted stems of glass strung by fine thread.

The Khasi men wear jymphong -- the sleeveless coat -- which is a garment leaving the neck and arms bare, with a fringe at the bottom, and with a row of tassels across the chest; it is fastened by frogs in front. They also wear a cap with ear-flaps. The elderly men, or other men when smartness is desired, wear a white turban, which is fairly large and is well tied on the head. The Khasi men are seldom seen without a haversack in which betel-nut, lime, and other odds and ends are kept; and the woman has her purse, which, however, is not visible, being concealed within the folds of her lower garment.

The weapons of the Khasis are swords, spears, bows and arrows and a circular shield which was used formerly for purposes of defence. The swords are usually of wrought iron, occasionally of steel, and are forged in the local smithies. The Khasi sword is of considerable length, and possesses the peculiarity of not having a handle of different material from that which is used for the blade. In the Khasi sword the handle is never made of wood or bone, or of any- thing except iron or steel, the result being that the sword is most awkward to hold and could never have been of much use as a weapon of offence.

We left Mawlynnong and on the way, saw Balancing Rock.

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