Tradition, culture on full display as Monolith Festival kicks off

Dignitaties perform a Khasi ritual to mark the inauguration of the Monolith Festival 2016 at Mawphlang
on Thursday. The ritual is performed by pouring water from bamboo flasks which is collected in a
single receptacle signifying the respect for diversity and celebration of unity. (ST)

SHILLONG: The three-day cultural extravaganza, Monolith Festival 2016, kicked off at the Khasi Heritage Village at Mawphlang in an atmosphere drenched in tradition and culture.
Governor V. Shanmuganathan declared the Festival open in the presence of Lok Sabha member from Shillong Vincent H. Pala, former Chief Minister D.D. Lapang, KHADC CEM P.N. Syiem, NEC Secretary Ram Muivah and a host of other dignitaries including MDCs, legislators and visitors who turned up to witness the celebration of culture and heritage.
The Weather God too was kind with the skies over Mawphlang remaining clear for the duration of the day, even though it rained heavily back in Shillong.
Declaring the Festival open, the Governor in an animated speech urged the Khasi youths to draw succour from this Festival of culture and heritage which is a reflection of the great history of the Khasis and strive to make their race and land more developed making it an example for other races to emulate.
Dressed in traditional attire, the Governor said, “Khasis mean kindness, large heartedness and respect nature, women and children. The Monolith Festival is a window to the rich Khasi cultural heritage and genius and the KHADC deserves applause for organizing such an event which showcases and preserves the customs etc., of the Khasis.”
Praising the Khasi society’s respect for women and nature, the Governor urged the Khasi youths to strive to create more employment in the region and ensure better medical facilities for all especially women.
“I urge you to strive for bigger things,” he said adding that a society that has an inner driving force can move forward by     expanding the specialties that it has come to inherit from its forefathers.
Lapang, meanwhile, praised the organizers for conducting the Monolith Festival which according to him gave the modern Khasis a space where they can relive their glorious culture and pass it on to the next generation.
“Very thankful to the District Council for organizing this cultural event at a time when modern ways are threatening our traditions,” Lapang said.
MP Vincent Pala, meanwhile, said the Khasis have a rich culture and the Monolith Festival was very relevant in the sense that it depicted this rich heritage to the next generation and also showcased the same to the world.
“This Festival will help rediscover our roots and reignite our cultural heritage,” said NEC Secretary Ram Muivah.
KHADC CEM P.N. Syiem asserted that the Council will strive to ensure that the Festival is turned into an annual affair.
He also did not miss the opportunity to urge the Governor to give assent to the KHAD (Conservation and Preservation of Khasi Social Custom and Tradition) Bill, 2016 passed by the KHADC to ensure that the Festival is held every year.
Adding more indigenous touch to the setting were members of the aboriginal group from Australia, Nuragunya, who greeted the crowd with a traditional hello or ‘wada’ as they call it.
Earlier, the proceedings started with the arrival of the Governor and the KHADC CEM along with other dignitaries escorting him to “Ka Theh Ka Diang” a water ceremony respecting diversity and celebrating unity.
The Monolith theme song was presented after the guests had made it to the dais.
The legendary Kerious Wahlang mesmerized the crowd with his soulful rendition accompanied by the duitara. The old man, considered the face of Khasi music, was given a standing ovation by the crowd after his performance.
Cultural performances continued throughout the day even as the hundreds of people present visited the various traditional stalls set up within and outside the Khasi Heritage Village.
The Governor and the other dignitaries also visited the Museum at the Khasi heritage village. Other major attraction was the hanging bridge that drew appreciation from the people who visited the Village on Day 1 of the Festival.