Every holiday, my aunt would come to pick me up and take me out to different places. She would take me to the park or to my favourite cousin brother’s house who I’d play with. One day, she took me to this gathering that I later came to know as the ‘Shad Suk Mynsiem’ festival. There were Khasi boys and girls dancing, dressed in Khasi attire, to the beats of a large drum; in fact, it was so large that it could fill a whole room! The girls were dressed in bright yellow and red. Their heads, arms, and necks were adorned with silver jewelry and red pearls that we call ‘Paila’. The boys wore armaments around and across their shoulders; on their heads were placed nice yellow and red turbans. They would move around the female dancers in circles, protecting them while the girls (only spinsters) shuffled to and fro using their feet. There were people gathering around the dancing field and yelling in unison to the Khasi limericks being spewed by a leader. It is a tradition that a Khasi rhyme always end with the words “hoi kiew” – first said by the leader and then by the people.
It was a day to remember, indeed! Years later, whenever it was ‘Shad Suk Mynsiem’ time, I’d notice my friends who still followed the Khasi religion and it’s traditions posting pictures of them dressed in their Khasi attire, and I would wish that I could one day be a part of this ceremony again.
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Written by Catherine Shadap.