Meghalaya, one of the seven sisters of Northeast India, is home to many ethnic tribes who live here is a peaceful concord with Mother Nature. The three most prominent tribes – Khasi, Garo and Jaintia had their own kingdoms until the British rule. The Khasis were earliest immigrant tribes who came from Myanmar and settled down in the plains of East Assam. It is one of the fastest growing tribal communities in India today. Here are a few interesting facts about Khasi tribe in Meghalaya.
1.Mornings start with tea and a bowl of rice
Everyone loves drinking Tea but have you ever had tea with rice? Strange it may sound; the Khasis usually take tea with a bowl of rice. Red tea with a little sugar, a small bowl with full of rice and two pieces of chicken or pork is common as that it is their most favourite breakfast.
2.The bathrooms here do not have loofas
Loofa is a common bathroom essential found in every bathroom but not here in Meghalaya. On your homestay here, if you find a stone on the bathroom shelf, don’t take it to be a décor item. It is a bathing stone. Another one of their unique idiosyncrasies, Khasis prefer rubbing the body with the stone before a shower. Of course, they don’t scrub their face. These stones are special in the sense that they are found only on the banks of Umngot River Dawki.
3.If someone serves you Kwai, congratulations you just made a new friend
Areca nut and Betel leaf which is also known as “Kwai” is considered to be very sacred and pure. Here in Meghalaya, offering Kwai marks a sign of friendship- the beginning of a new relationship.
Khasis are a shy breed of people. The pinkish and red cheeks enhance the beauty of Khasi women. Jainkyrshah is a long square size piece of cloth worn on the left shoulder by young women. It is considered as a mark of respect towards male members or elderly people at home or outside.
5.English, not Hindi is the second language here
Unlike other parts of the country where Hindi usually serves as the second language, the usage of English is more prominent here as it has managed to cut through all socio-economic barriers as the lingua franca.
6.Khasis have their own stringed instrument- the Duitara
Khasis have a rich musical history. The traditional musical instrument is Duitara literally ‘two strings’. Music is a part of everyday life, and everyone loves to sing and dance. The emotion of joy and happiness, sadness can be brought by music.
7.The trend of live-in relationships
Wedding among Khasis is a huge deal because they hardly get married. So, if there is any wedding it must be a big fat wedding because it is such a rare affair among Khasis. They prefer live-in relationships big time. Long before live-in relationships attained legal and social legitimacy in mainland India, folks of this unique community have been living happily with their partner without tying the nuptial knot.
8.A question of legitimacy
Meghalaya is a matriarchal state and women have more power and a higher social status than men. Since there is no marriage, usually after childbirth, men may move out and go somewhere else. As a result, the mother has to look after her children. According to Khasis, the first baby in any women’s womb is considered to be God-gifted so she will deliver the child. But, the child has no father identity so if asked “Who is your father?’’, the child will say either say “Nga Emtib” which means “I don’t know” or just keep numb.
9.The daughter-preferring law of inheritance
Meghalaya is the only state in India where they prefer daughters to sons when it comes to bequeathing ancestral property. The youngest daughter inherits all the property and becomes the caretaker of aged parents and unmarried siblings. When there is no daughter in the family, the mother may sometimes nominate another girl, for instance a daughter-in-laws as the natural heir. When there is no daughter in the family, the inheritance may also be passed down to her sister’s youngest daughter.