The annual Nongkrem Dance Festival was celebrated here amid fanfare and gaiety with young Khasi men and women swaying to traditional folk music to appease goddess Ka Blei Synshar, in the hope of a rich bumper harvest.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, in his message to the people on the occasion, said the festival has been forging bonds of friendship and compassion among the local people. "May this festival continue to preserve our cultural roots and create strong bonds of friendship and compassion so as to achieve our shared objective of lasting peace, communal harmony and progress," he said.
The king of Hima Khyrim kingdom, Balajied Syiem, along with the high priest performed the Pomblang ceremony, where a goat was sacrificed to appease the god of Shillong peak, Lei Shyllong, and also the ancestors and ancestress of the ruling clan.
The religious part of the festival preceded yesterday's dance performances. Young maidens, decked up in exotic costumes and jewellery, matched steps to the changing beats of drums and haunting tunes of the tangmuri (pipes). Attired in their traditional regalia, young men also took to the dancing arena to perform in front of the Ling Sad (thatched palace). They held swords and white Yak hair whisks in their hands.
A colourful fair, featuring local handicrafts and delicacies, was also organised here on this occasion. The Nongkrem Dance has always attracted tourists, both domestic and foreign. Hima Khyrim has always been a bastion of Khasi culture, Balajied Syiem said on this occasion. "The rituals and the dance performances have remained the same all these years," he said.