By: Vishma Kumar Thapa
Seng Khasi is a Religio Socio Cultural Organization of the indigenous Khasis belonging to the Niam Khasi religion. Its aim is to protect and preserve the Niam Khasi, the customs and traditions of the Indigenous Khasis which distinguishes the Khasis, as a race distinct and different from any other races in the world.
Seng Khasi came to be established as the first indigenous organization of its kind among the Khasis. Responsible Khasi Leaders felt apprehensive at the corroding influence which the new dispensation was having on the Khasi community as a whole and sixteen young men decided to from the Seng Khasi, an organisation which took upon itself the work of protecting the Khasi religion, the customs and tradition and, on the whole, all aspects of pure Khasi way of life including music, song, dance, games and amusements to ensure that its unique identity in the world is preserved for all time to come. Thus, Seng Khasi was founded on the 23rd November 1899.
Over the years, the seng Khasi is looked upon as the source of inspiration and protection to many traditional, cultural and indigenous religions. Many of the people, who have lost their roots and moorings, are now turning towards the Seng Khasi to rediscover the richness of the past and the cultural heritage. People are resuscitated into consciousness of the rich values of own culture and traditions, the geography and history of their language and customs.
SHAD SUK MYNSIEM
The annual thanksgiving festival, Shad Suk Mynsiem was celebrated at the Weiking Grounds with thousands of people, musicians and dancers dressed in their finest attire participating in this colourful festival with gaiety. This festival of the indigenous Khasi tribe is celebrated each year during the month of April after priests invoke the Almighty for his blessings. Young men, women and children alike took part in the dance in their exquisite traditional costumes. Sumar Sing Sawian, an elder of the Seng Khasi, said, “Today is the celebration of Spring season , the coming of spring season which we call Shad Suk Mynsiem , it means the dance of peaceful and joyful heart.” He also said, “In this season nature displays colour everywhere, this gives joy to our heart.” According to records, Shad Suk Mynsiem (dance of the happy hearts) was first celebrated on April 14 and 15, 1911 at Weiking Ground at Mawkhar, Shillong. Ever since, the dance has been an annual ritual. “The Shad Suk Mynsiem is one such celebration to show the community’s admiration for God. It is organised throughout the Khasi Hills during spring time when nature rejuvenates itself and mankind is filled with the hope of a rich harvest from the sown seeds,” added Sawian. The dance is part of the Seng Khasi’s objective to further the ancient socio-religious cultural heritage of the Khasi people. During the dance, women dancers wear Jainpien – a piece of cloth tied around the waist. A velvet blouse called Mukmor and a sarong-like garment called Jainsem. Gold and silver necklaces together with bracelets and armlets are the ornaments worn by them. There are six different modes of dances in Shad Suk Mynsiem. These are Shad Nalai, Dum Dum, Klang, Padiah, Pyllun and Mastieh. These dances continue till sunset to the melody of the drum (Ksing and Nakra Bom) beats and the Tangmuri (flute).
Shad suk Mynsiem organised by the Seng Khasi Seng Kmie Shillong is by far the biggest and most colourful, where people from far and near come thronging to witness the virgin maidens and men of all ages dance to the seven beats of drums in their finest attire of fine silk, gold and silver. The Seng Khasi had been able to preserve this dance, which is one of the most important cultural heritage, not only in the performing dance aspect, but also the traditional beats of drums, cymbals, and the shrill piping sound of the tangmuri. In this 106th years of performance of Shad Suk Mynsiem at Lympung Weiking, there is no doubt that the dance will last in its richness and glamour for all times to come and Seng Khasi would withstand with courage and dedication against all undermining forces, and live up according to the principle, “To love oneself and Respect others”.