Behdeinkhlam culminates in Jowai

From Our Correspondent

JOWAI: Behdeinkhlam festival of the Sein Raij Jowai, the most colourful and important religious festival of the Pnar people belonging to the Niamtre, a traditional faith, concluded with religious fervour here at Aitnar or the sacred pool on Tuesday.

The faithful believe that the festival drives away ‘plagues, devils and all kinds of evil spirits’ from the society.

The last day of the festival was witnessed by thousands of spectators from across the State and abroad. Members of the Sein Raij Jowai, Sein Raij Shillong and Sein Raij Ummulong joined the festival dancing in the sacred muddy pool to the tune of the beat of drums and sound of cymbals.

Union Minister of State for Rural Development, Agatha K Sangma, Deputy Chief Minister, Bindo M Lanong, East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner, Sanjay Goyal besides other MLAs and officials of the Tourism Department were among the dignitaries who witnessed the festival at Aitnar.

The festival on Tuesday began with a ritual called Kyntin Khnong at the official residence of the priestess (Langdoh) followed by Bam Tyngkong performed by the religious head, the Dolloi, along with his ‘ministers’ including the Pator, Sangot and the Maji.

Later, the Wasan or the elders visited every house and performed Shoh Thyndai – beating of the roof with a stick called Deinkhlam to drive away plagues or any kind of sickness and evil spirits from the house.

The Wasan also offered prayers in every house they visited so that the family would be blessed and protected from evils spirits and sickness.

The main part of the festival is at the sacred pond, Aitnar, where most of the significant part of the festival is performed.

In the afternoon, the festival begins at Aitnar with the arrival of the Symbud Khnong (the spiritual wood). After the arrival of the Symbud Khnong, the members of ka Niamtre locally known as Ki khon ka Niamtre dance in the muddy pool.

Altogether 16 raths or Rot were brought and displayed by various localities before they were finally immersed. Each colourful Rot had various social issues depicted on them.

Dat Lawakor, the other part of the festival, is a ritual performed in the form of a football match with a wooden ball but without any goal post on either sides and players have to follow only east and west directions. The ‘match’ was played between the team of U Langdoh and the team of U Sangngot Paswett.

It is believed if any team wins the match, one of the two valleys around Jowai known as Pynthor nein and Pynthor wah will yield a good harvest. This year, the team of U Sangngot Paswett won the match which indicates that Pynthor wah would reap more harvest than Pynthor nein.

To mark the conclusion of the festival, elders of the Niamtre-Sein Raij Jowai including the Dolloi performed Bam Tyngkong at the residence of Ka Langdoh, the priestess, followed by Wai-sarang.