Meghalaya, in the north
east of India.
June / July, every year.
Jowai in Meghalaya, India.
The Behdienkhlam Festival Tour in Meghalaya
Behdienkhlam Festival is the most celebrated Cultural festival among the
Pnars. Behdienkhlam (chasing away the Demon of Cholera) is celebrated
annually in July after the sowing period, the most important dance festival
of the Jaintia tribes. This festival Tour is also an invocation to God, seeking
his blessings for a bumper harvest. The women however do not participate in
the dancing, as they have an important function of offering sacrificial food
to the spirits of the forefathers. The festival held at Jowai is one of the
most well known and recreational festival in Meghalaya.
The Rituals in the Behdienkhlam Festival
A series of religious rites is being performed by the Daloi (chief). During
the Behdienkhlam Cultural Festival Tour, young men make a symbolic gesture of driving away
of the evil spirit, plague and disease by beating of the roof of every house
with bamboo poles.
The climax of the celebration is the fight for a large undressed beam by
two groups of people in opposition to each other. This leads to the heavy
beam get across a muddy ditch called Wah-eit-nar. A lot of horse play enters
into this part of the event, when mud is smeared by the participants on each
During the celebrations of Behdienkhlam fesgtival of North East India,
the ceremony and ritual is carried out for three days and on the last day,
in the afternoon people would gather in a place called Aitnar and both young
and old would dance to the tunes of the pipes and drums. The dancers are
highly emotional when tall-decorated structures called rots and a wooden
post-called khnongs would be brought into the pool. It is desirable that
there should be rain on the day of the festival. The climax of this
famous festival of North East India
is when people dressed up in their best attire would converge to a place
called Mynthong to witness a game played similar to football, called
dad-lawakor. The game is played with a wooden ball between the Northerners
and the Southerners. The side wins the match by putting the ball on the
otherside would signify that in the following year there would be a bumper
harvest in that particular region. In the evening there would be a lot of
funfair and merry making.