Shillong - Rongali Bihu Celebrations

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In my previous post on Shillong, I promised to share the Rongali Bihu celebrations with our readers here. Bihu is one of the biggest festivals of this part of India. This celebration reflects the rich cultural heritage of this beautiful region, as people from all the communities /tribes participate with equal enthusiasm. The spirit of Bihu binds all of them together, irrespective of their caste, creed and religious beliefs.

The picture above is of the famous Wangala Dance of Garos. Meghalaya, which means land of clouds, is mainly an agricultural and farming land. The inhabitants here, therefore, generally worship the Lord of farming and agriculture. The Wangala Festival, which is also known as Hundred Drums festival, is therefore a grand Carnival to celebrate the harvest season. It is a "Thanksgiving" ceremony to Misi Saljong, also known as Pattigipa Ra'rongipa (The Great Giver), for having blessed the human beings with rich harvest of the season. This dance was presented by the dancers of Meghalaya art & cultural group.

Here, in this picture, the artist is playing an Assamese Traditional musical instrument, known as PEPA. It is an integral part of the folk music of Assam. It usually has a very short stem, made from small diameter bamboo/cane/reed, with the end away from the mouth capped with the horn of a buffalo.

I clicked the above picture back stage, where these beautiful dancers were waiting for their turn. I loved the way they smiled at the camera.

The same group later performed Bihu dance... it was an enthralling performance. Bihu, performed by young men and women, reflects youthful passions and joys during the spring season, accompanied by songs woven around the theme of love and physical yearning. The whole atmosphere comes alive with the rhythm of drums and flutes.

Here, the Snow Lion-Dance is being performed by the Tibetan community of Shillong. In Tibet, the Snow-Lion symbolizes the fearless and elegant quality of the enlightened mind. When a healthy and harmonious environment is established by the creative activities of human beings, such as through the performance of a sacred, purifying and healing music, all living beings are represented by the Snow-Lion.

This group presented Bagrumba-Dance. Bagrumba is one of the main dance forms of Bodos, the largest tribal community of Assam. The attire you see them wearing is completely hand woven. Holding the ends of colourful scarves hung round their necks, the dancers move forward and backward with alternate footsteps, to the accompaniment of Kham (drum) and Sifung (flute). The special features of the dance, like harmonious jerks of the waist, graceful, forward and backward swinging of the body and wrists, makes it more fascinating.

Here comes another beautiful dance form of Assam, Jhumur-Dance. Assam is very famous for its tea gardens. The people residing and working in the tea gardens of Assam are called “kulis”. The tea tribes have a synthesized form of dance called "Jhumur Nach", performed by girls and boys together (sometimes by girls alone), with precision of footwork, while clasping tightly each other's waist. The dance is performed to the rhythmic accompaniment of the Madal (dhol). The costume worn by the Jhumur dancers is different from the traditional costumes worn for the Bihu dance.

This is Goalporia-Dance. Songs and dances are an integral part of the lives of the people in Goalpara district. The song on which these dancers performed is one of the most popular Goalporia song 'Kamola sundori nache’.

Buwari-Bihu dance is representative of marriage (buwari means a daughter-in-law). This Bihu dance is performed mainly by the married ladies.

The members of the ladies club presented this beautiful chorus. As you can see, all of them are wearing the traditional Mekhela Chador.

Information on few dances by courtesy: Culture of Assam (official website)

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