Shillong: The annual dance of the Khasis – the Nongkrem Dance Festival or ‘Ka Pomblang’, performed in the month of December – was celebrated in all its splendour with crowds of people thronging the traditional palace (IIing Sad) of the Syiem of Hima Khyriem at Smit on Thursday.
The dances were performed in the courtyard of the Iing Sad (thatched house) where young girls dazzled in traditional attires and danced to the tune of music of the duhalia (the traditional musicians), while the men dressed in traditional accoutre – holding a white yak hair whisk in one hand and a sword in one hand – surrounded the women.
The purpose of Nongkrem Dance is to seek the blessings of Goddess ‘Ka Blei Synshar’ for a good agricultural yield and welfare of the people. The festival is also called ‘Ka Pomblang’, meaning decapitation of goats, since they are sacrificed and offerings made to the ancestors.
An important part of this festival is ‘Ka Pomblang’ (decapitation of goats) Ceremony, at which goats offered by subjects to the ‘Syiem’ of Hima Khyriem, are sacrificed and offerings are made to the ancestors of the ruling clan and the deity of Shillong peak (U-Lei Shillong).
Balajied Sing Syiem, Syiem of Hima Khyriem said, “This dances and rituals conducted are a continuation of the legacy bestowed upon us since ancient days by our ancestors and there has not been any changes till this day and this festival is a testimony of our gratitude to God.”
Informing that since many of the dancers are school going students, he said, “We also took this into consideration and hence we are organizing this festival in December as most of the students are getting their winter break from school.”
He said that prayers for peace in the society and for good agricultural yield have been the centre of the rituals performed.
Later in the evening, after the Nongkrem Dance Festival concluded, the Syiem along with the high priest performed the Pomblang ceremony, the sacrifice of goats which is an important part of the ritual.
Braving the winter cold, overcast condition and light drizzle, the Nongkrem dance was performed by more than 100 girls and boys.