SHILLONG, July 03: Tuesday marked the last of this year’s four day Behdeinkhlam festival during which revelers were seen participating in a ritualistic expression to overcome the destructive forces of nature including diseases and an invocation to God for a good harvest.
Considered as one of the important festivals of the State, it is celebrated during mid-July every year after the sowing season is over.
“Khlam” means ‘Plague or Pestilence’ and “Beh Dien” means to drive away the plague with sticks and religious fervor.
The main feature of the festival is the making of the “Dein Khlam” and “Khnong”, which are rounded, polished and straight tree trunks, felled from a forest. These trunks are brought to Jowai town, the district headquarters of the eastern most part of the state, with great fanfare.
Earlier in the day, the ‘Symbud Khnong’ a log of great length was brought which thousands people throng to get a chance to touch it.
It is believed that touching the Khnong will protect people from sicknesses besides ensuring prosperity in their work and businesses.
According to the niamtre faithful, Behdienkhlam is not all about driving away sickness but to also drive away the social evils that are inflicting the society.
The youth from different localities of the town also try out their artistic skills by erecting beautifully coloured “rots” 10-40 feet tall structures built of bamboo, coloured paper and tinsel.
The Behdienkhlam ‘rots’ are built on a wide range of social issues – politics, environment protection besides others as the theme.
The rots were on display on Tuesday at the Aitnar – a sacred pool.
The rots also carry strong message for preservation and protection of the environment and the mother earth besides importance of combating social evils.
Interestingly, a rot which captivated the spectators was on the ongoing 2018 World Cup held in Russia, while another has on it a message which read “The world suffers a lot not because the violence of bad people but because of the silence of the good people.”
The climax of the celebrations is the carrying of a large trunk known as ‘Khnong’ by the niamtre faithful to Aitnar.
Religious rites and sacrifices at the sacred pool precede the immersion ceremony in the early hours of the morning.
The festival was also witnessed by the Union Minister of State DoNER Dr Jitendra Singh and Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong and other cabinet ministers besides senior government officials.
In the evening ‘datlawakor’, a football match played with a rounded wooden ball, is played between two teams from the upper and lower valleys of the Myntdu River.
The side that wins is believed to be blessed with a good harvest of the year. The Daloi or the traditional chief acts as referee in the match.