Monday, February 2, 2015

Shilong, the Scotland of the East

Shillong, the Scotland of the East

Shilong the Scotland of the East is popular destination of tourists with lovely weather, beautiful mountains and forests. It is located just 150 kms from Guwahati airport. It's a Khasi district. The four lane road from Guwahati to Shilong gives a pleasure and speed of driving through plains and mountains. Weather is pleasant here with full of O2, surrounded by green and beautiful mountains of Himalaya.

Shillong derives its name from Shilong Peak (1965 mtr above sea level). There are many legends and myths. U Shyllong, a supernatural youth born out of immaculate conception of a virgin mother name Lir, who lived in a bissi a village near myllem 14 kms south of Shillong. She gave birth to a beautiful still born child whom she buried in her garden. Many years later she was awakend at midnight by the noise of a large crowd. As she opened the door a tall handsome youth stepped forward and said Mother, I am the little boy you buried in the garden.  Don't be afraid, you are my earthly mother and have come to bestow democratic govern justice. U Shyllong (the one who grows naturally) was in fa of Shillong and phrase "khot Shillong" (called Shillong) is still used as a prayer in times of catastrophe, peril or even personal misfortune.

The city with approximately 7 lakh population getting more and crowded by rural migrants and migrants from Bihar, UP, Bangladesh. Its Police Bazaar and Bara Bazaar are crowded with hundreds of shoppers and thousands of customers and tourists. Traffic, though one way mostly, but always jaam around these markets during office hours. Office hrs are 10 AM to 4.30 PM in winter months and 10 AM to 5 PM in rest of the months. The markets remain open till 9PM. People enjoy shopping without fear of pick pocketing. Overall a very crowded and a safe place.
Don Bosco Museum, Golf course, Elephant Fall, Ward's lake, Shillong Peak, etc are places to visit in and around Shillong.

Cherapunji and Mawsynram, the wettest places are 56-60 kms away from Shilong. There is Mawsmai Caves, Nohsngithiang (seven sisters) fall, Thangkharang park and Giant Cone (200 feet high) to visit around Cherapunji.  Bangladesh border starts from here. Hills are in India and plains Bangladesh.  The rains of Cherapunji floods villages of Bangladesh in monsoon. River Surma from Bangladesh flow nearby and merge into Brahmputra.

Pineapples are available in plenty and cheap. Squash, a vegetable rich in vitamins and minerals is produced in plenty. The government is searching for its export potentiality. Soh flang (fruit of grass), similar like Singada is sold on footpaths. Organic carrots sold very cheap, 10 pieces for Rs.10. Rice, fish (khaba, rohu, aari, ellis) and vegetables is the staple food of Meghalaya. 

Vegetables and foods in India are sold on footpaths at very cheap rate compare to world wide markets. There is no match in the world for the flavours and tastes of foods enjoyed by Indias.

There are three major tribes: Khasi (4 districts), Jantia (2 districts) and Garo (5 districts), 75%, 50% and 80% of them are Christians respectively. Remaining non Chrustians are like Hindus, but worshiping one Almighty God without idols.

It is a matrilineal society where children carry title of their mother. All properties are owned by the female. Bridegroom goes to bride's house, to marry and stay in in-laws house. Parents and siblings of bridegroom cries, saying he is going, he is going. Parents of brides family feel happy when the bridegroom comes, saying he is coming, he is coming. Christians marry in Church and others at bride's house. An old man introget both for hours and finally give consent, thereafter with rings exchange, non Christians declared married. All marriages are love marriage as they believe that partner is considered to be a matter of luck. Boy and girl don't stay together before the marriage like western world. The youngest daughter stay with parents, look after them as well as the divorced brother/sister if any. She inherits the properties of parents in leu of the services. Those who search for house will try for the youngest and those who don't want to carry responsibilities take away the elder and stay in a rented or owned house. The eldest 'ghar jamai', normally respected as head in the in-laws family and mostly involved in decision making of the family.

There is no Panchayati Raj system. Village administration is run by Village Head, Executive Committee, Secretary and Finance Secretary, all volunteers selected by Village Darbar by voice vote for a term of 3 years. They are mostly males though the society is matrilineal. Land in village is owned by community. If the farmer don't cultivate the land for consecutive 3 years, he/she lost the land. Villages are clean and houses are neat and clean with colourful external look.

There is Traditional Chief (through heirs) above the village heads, mainly for their customary issues. 
There is District Council elected by people for the term of 5 years (similar like District Panchayat). The Chief Executive Member (one of the members elected from the Council), Executive Council run the administration. It has limited powers. There are restrictions on purchase of land by non tribes (khasi/janti for khasi/jantia and garo for garos only), the permission of stalls, trading licence to outsiders/traders/companies are given by the Executive Council. Primary Education was initially given to the council but it was taken back by government in 1993.

People of Shillong are music and football lovers. A Charity Shaw, Smokie, was organised by Police Officers' Wives Association in collaboration with Department of Culture in an open ground with tickets of Rs. 5000, Rs.2500 and Rs. 700 was house full. It was organised for CMRF for welfare measures for the families of 11 police-soldiers (2013, 2014) died encountering militants and 65 persons died in floods (2014) in Garo districts. Youths and olds, men and women, whole of Shillong and guests from NE danced and sang melody with the famous English Band of Yorkshire Smokie. Mike Craft and his team made the crowd mad during their 75 minutes melodies. Many were singing and dancing with the Smokies as the songs were familiar to them. They just loved Smokies.
There is neither pub culture nor club culture in Shillong but people sing and dance at home. Their blood is made from music and hearts are full of love. 'Love' and 'Heart' are the most popular words.

The show was sponsored by Air Cel and co sponsored by Royal Stage, SBI, HDFC, Kaltenberg, Savag, Royal Stag (seagram's), Nutcracker, Red Indian, Star Cement, Industrialists, traders, etc.

Out tour to Meghalaya reached to its climax, when enjoyed the melody of Smokie.

Don't miss Shillong, the Scotland of the East.


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