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 Saturday.
‘Beh’ means drive, ‘Dein’ means wooden stick and ‘Khlam’ means plague. The faithful believe that Behdeinkhlam is a festival that drives away plague, which may come in any form such as devils and all kinds of evil spirits’ from the society.
Beside thousands of members of the Sein Raij Jowai, Sein Raij Shillong and Sein Raij Ummulong who joined the festival dancing in the sacred muddy pool to the tune of drums, sound of cymbals and the melodious sound of flutes, spectators from across the State and even from abroad witnessed the festival.
The Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly, Rajendra Alekar was the special guest who came to witness the festival.
Urban Minister, Ampareen Lyngdoh, PWD Minister, Sniawbhalang Dhar, Ri bhoi MLA, Ngaitlang Dhar, the Director Arts and Culture, Matsiewdor War Nongbri, West Jaintia Hills Deputy Commissioner, Peter S Dkhar, West Jaintia Hills Superintendent of Police, Herbert G Lyngdoh, the PWD Secretary, S Chyrmang and many other government officials also witnessed the festival at Aitnar- the sacred muddy pool.
The festival on Tuesday began with a ritual called Kyntin Khnong at the official residence of the priestess called Ka 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 – the process of beating 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.
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.
Localities including, Panaliar, Dulong, Chilliangraij (known as Khon Raij), Loomiongkjam, Loomkyrwiang, Iongpiah beside Sein Raij Shillong, Sein Ummulong and Ka Sein Tylli Niamtre Ladthadlaboh brought their Rots (Raths) – paper monument structures and displayed them in the Aitnar before they were finally immersed.
Altogether 11 raths or Rot were brought and displayed in the aitnar. Some of the Rots were displayed with messages written on it.
This year, the festival sent strong messages to the people on social issues including crime against women, to conserve and preserve the Environment.
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 Langdoh 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.