The Khasis and Jaintias both use use drums and other traditional instruments, similar to guitars and flutes, to play music that often shows a love of their homeland of lakes, waterfalls and hills. During Behdienkhlam, however, it is all about making noise and creating energy.
Meghalaya – Been There

Here’s mud in your eye, and everywhere else

Photo by Timothy Allen

Meghalaya – Been There Here’s mud in your eye, and everywhere else

At Jowai in the Jaintia Hills, 40 miles from Shillong, I photograph a festival called Behdienkhlam, an amazing three-day, four-night event.

Timothy Allen
Timothy Allen Travel Photographer

Behdienkhlam is celebrated every July by the Pnar people, after the crops have been sowed, to ask the gods for a good harvest. Women prepare food offerings for the ancestors and men march in a colorful procession carrying heavy logs. Rain on the third day is considered a very good omen.

This last day also sees a ritual where tall decorated paper obelisks called “Rots” are carried around and thrown into a pond. It climaxes with a sort of soccer game that uses a wooden ball but no goal posts. The winning side is believed to earn a better harvest that year.

These Pnars of the Jaintia Hills were the first local tribe to start rice cultivation in paddy fields, so getting wet and muddy is a central part of the ritual. The wetland rice cultivation of the area around Jowai is in contrast to the dryland and forest farms of other local tribes.

Behdienkhlam – which means “festival to rid away plague (cholera)” – is as spectacular as it sounds and thousands of people attend, but during the three days I see only one other foreigner. We are both bemused as to why the event is not better known outside Meghalaya. I am reminded once more that no matter where you are in the world, there is always something new to discover.

humanplanet.com

behdienkhlam-timothy-allen-115

Many of the events of Behdienkhlam involve a lot of horse play in the mud at the height of the monsoon rains. The emphasis on water reflects the wetland rice cultivation of the area around Jowai that is in contrast to the dryland and forest farms of other local tribes. Photo by Timothy Allen

Timothy Allen

Timothy Allen

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Aperture
ƒ/5
Exposure
1/1000
ISO
640
Focal
85 mm

Many of the events of Behdienkhlam involve a lot of horse play in the mud at the height of the monsoon rains. The emphasis on water reflects the wetland rice cultivation of the area around Jowai that is in contrast to the dryland and forest farms of other local tribes.

Other stories about Meghalaya