Thousands throng Weiking ground on final day of Shad Suk Mynsiem

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SHILLONG, April 15: Khasis in matrilineal Meghalaya celebrated the Shad Suk Mynsiem or dance of the joyful hearts – an annual thanksgiving festival which came to a close on Monday.
Thousands of spectators including tourists witnessed the colourful traditional thanksgiving dance festival, held at Weiking Ground, Jaiaw in the city here.
Organized annually for the past many years by the Seng Khasi Seng Kmie, the Shad Suk Mynsiem, which is also known as the ‘Spring Festival’ started from April 13 and concluded here on Monday.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, his deputy Prestone Tynsong besides a host of guests and dignitaries also attended the festival.
Hundreds of people belonging to the ‘Niam Khasi’ including young and old took part in the dancing festival accompanied by the beats of the drums and tangmuri to give thanks to God for all the blessings that he has bestowed.
It was only in 1911 that the Seng Khasi decided to have the dance in an organized manner at the Weiking Ground.
“Shad Suk Mynsiem is a thanksgiving dance festival of the Khasi people to the Almighty for bountiful harvest, health, wealth and peace. It is also to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the Khasis,” general secretary of the Seng Khasi Pyntngen Dondor Nongrum said.
“The Seng Khasi is also working hard to promote values of Tip Briew Tip Blei (Know man, know God), Tip Kur Tip Kha (knowledge of one’s identify from the matrilineal lineage and also from the paternal lineage) and Kamai Ia Ka Hok – (to earn Righteousness in one’s lifetime) and to ensure the rich cultural heritage is passed on to the next generation,” Nongrum said.
Stating that the Shad Suk Mynsiem is a major tourist attraction, the general secretary expressed his hope that the state government will be generous to help the Seng Khasi in further promoting the festival.
“We will definitely need the help of the government in giving us a place where we can build a proper arena with proper infrastructure for parking and other things,” he said.
He also said that the Weiking ground will not be sufficient to hold the dance festival with the number of dancers increasing every year.
Over 1100 dancers participated in the festival. Last year, there were over 1000 dancers and this is going to swell up in the coming years with the present generation understanding the value of the Khasi cultural heritage, he added.
The “dance of the joyful hearts” apart from depicting the rich custom and tradition of a Khasi society, also has in it a strong social message especially in upholding the respect for the womenfolk.
Women in the dance arena confine themselves to the inner circle while the men dance in the outer circle – a symbolism of their responsibility to protect the weaker sex.
A quiver with three silver arrows which form part of the attire of the men folks further signifies – ‘to protect oneself, to protect one’s family and clan and to defend the land and its integrity’, Nongrum explained.