Shillong, April 10: The three days Shad Suk Mynsiem festival which began on April 8 came to an end on Monday 10. The active participation of tribal Khasi men and women in the thanksgiving dance added grace and grandeur to the event.
During winter recedes and the charm of spring descends on the Khasi Hills, it is marked by one of the community’s biggest festivals. Shad Suk Mynsiem is the Khasi way of offering their thanks to the creator for all the blessings and bountiful harvests received – characterized by many symbolic rituals, dances and the best of traditional apparel.
The three-day Shad Suk Mynsiem Festival, also known as ‘The Dance of Peaceful Hearts’, concluded on Monday with the participation of several Khasi men and women in the Thanksgiving dance.
The biggest visual highlight of Shad Suk Mynsiem is the dance and accompanying music. The layout of the dancers can teach observant viewers a few things about the distinctive matrilineal societies that celebrate this occasion. The dance of the maidens reflects their roles in the community
This year marked the 112th edition of the festival. Shad Suk Mynsiem (‘the dance of peaceful hearts’) is held during the month of April. Spring is symbolic as a season of rebirth, as is the case in many societies. It signifies the beginning of new cycles during which new seedlings are planted. Shad Suk Mynsiem is an agrarian festival and celebrates the optimism for the coming years.
Female dancers are in the middle – the keepers of the hearth, home, and the lineage of the clans. The turbaned men in ceremonial apparel are the protectors, they surround the female dancers armed with the waitlam (sword) and symphiah (whisk). The arrows in their quiver represent the qualities of a man. The role of the man in Hynniewtrep society is to be the advisor, leader, and protector – represented in the nuances of the Shad Suk Mynsiem rituals.
A total of 1,451 dancers – 724 female and 727 male – participated in the Shad Suk Mynsiem Festival on Monday this year.
The female dancers are clad in the best silks, and adorned with gold, coral, and silver accessories. The crown represents dignity and modesty. Chastity of the dancer is represented by the lasubon flower, an important totem for the Hynniewtrep clans.
The main significance of participating in the dance is to give thanks to God Almighty for all the blessings received in the past years and to seek his blessings for a good year ahead.
The festival’s signature dance, ‘Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem,’ was performed in the presence of distinguished guests, including Meghalaya Governor Phagu Chauhan, Deputy CM Prestone Tynsong, VPP MLA Brightstarwell Marbaniang, and former MLA Samlin Malngiang, among others.
Visitors of the Shad Suk Mynsiem festival can also learn about Niam Khasi and the role of the Seng Khasi an organization that keeping alive the old traditions and helping the indigenous beliefs and customs flourish into modern times. As the Khasis negotiate many cultural crossroads, this is one of the best ways to see the beautiful and ancient heritage, beliefs, and motifs of the community on one single stage.