Khasi Heritage Village to come up at Mawphlang
By Our Reporter
Shillong: The diverse cultural identity of the tribal communities of the State is sought to be re-defined and conserved through the ‘Khasi Heritage Village’ at Mawphlang, one of the remaining hubs of Khasi culture.
This heritage village, the first of its kind in Meghalaya is an initiative of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), and aims to showcase the rich cultural and traditional diversity of the tribal people while simultaneously upholding the traditional practices including rites and rituals related to Khasi tradition which is now rapidly losing relevance.
“This heritage village will revive the cultures and traditional practices of the people and will showcase various cultures under one roof in such a manner that it will be a feast for the eyes and the ears,” Chief Executive Member of the KHADC, PN Syiem, said at the foundation stone laying ceremony held at Mawphlang here on Saturday.
Situated opposite to the Law Kyntang or the Sacred Groves at Mawphlang, this village will enhance the flavour of the much visited and widely publicised sacred forest thereby bringing thousands of tourists from all over the world to witness the scenic beauty and richness of the Khasi cultures.
A total amount of Rs 5.8 crore sanctioned under the 13th Finance Commission was earmarked for the construction of this Khasi Heritage Village in an area of about 5 acres donated by the Hima Mylliem to the KHADC. The first tranche of Rs 80 lakh has been allotted while an amount of Rs 2 crore is earmarked for the second phase.
Lamenting the loss of culture through rapid urbanisation and westernisation, Syiem said “We don’t want to focus only on urban development but wish to conserve the culture and way of life of the tribal people which is our mandate.”
While stating that urbanization is creeping into the rural areas, the CEM said, “We have reached a point whereby traditional houses are replaced by concrete structures and there is a real fear that the traditional architecture and structures given to us by our ancestors will vanish without a trace.”
Terming this project as a ‘conserver of the Khasi culture’, Syiem said it is high time for the KHADC to think beyond the four walls of politics and shift its focus to something which really matters and that is to revive those cultural practices which are environmentally sustainable.
In this regard, he mentioned that the KHADC has taken steps to restore the lost glory of Shillong city by engaging with the restoration work on much-debated, ‘Wah Umkhrah’ and the other on the ‘Iewduh’.
Meanwhile, local MDC and EM of KHADC, Lamphrang Blah, dwelt at length on the rapid advent and progress of technology which has the potential to replace indigenous cultures and practices.
“In this IT age, most people, especially the young tend to pay more attention to modern lifestyles while and neglect their own culture. I fear that one day, our culture will be relegated to text books only and will cease to exist,” Blah said.
On the same note, Myntri of Hima Mawphlang MS Kharshiing said, “A community without a culture is a community without an identity.”
While appreciating the KHADC for this initiative, Kharshiing said the council should also focus on the history of languages spoken by the tribals of the state, stating that it should maintain a record of the languages and preserving them for the future generation.
It is learnt that the first of its kind Monolith Festival in Meghalaya is proposed to be held before June at this Khasi Heritage Village and will attract many people from within the State and outside as well.
Other invitees present at the function included the EMs of the KHADC, Syiem of Hima Mylliem Latho Manik Syiem, Myntri of Hima Mawphlang and other Hima in Khasi Hills, officers and staffs of the KHADC, local residents and principals of various schools of that area besides others.