Nongkrem is a dance form popular in and special to the Hilly State of Meghalaya in India, which is mostly unknown to the people living elsewhere in India. During every winter, in the month of November, this indigenous dance festival is celebrated in Meghalaya, which is known for its rich culture and tradition. The word Nongkrem literally means “Goat Killing Ceremony”
Khasi Tribe celebrates the Nongkrem Dance form, which lasts for five long days in a scenic village called “Smit”, about eleven kilometers from Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. Similar to other festivals of Meghalaya, Nongkrem Dance is performed to appease the all powerful Goddess Ka Blei Synshar for a rich bumper harvest and prosperity of the people.
Rituals and Activities
The Dance performance begins with sacrificing a goat to the Goddess. The ceremony is called as “Pemblang Ceremony”. The Syiem of Khyrim (the King of the Princely state of Khyrim – Khasi Kingdom of Meghalaya) along with the priests perform the Pemblang Ceremony. Oblation to a Lei Shyllong – the God of Shyllong peak – is offered. Offerings are also made to the ancestor and ancestress of the ruling clan to the first uncle to the deity of Shillong peak.
Girls belonging to a group called the Hima Khyrim perform the Nongkrem dance festival in Meghalaya. The girls tap their feet to the music of the traditional Duhalia or the Musicians. The boys of the clan dance around the girls, dressed in their traditional Khasi attire with a sword in one hand and a whisk made of white yak hair on the other.
This Nongkrem dance of Meghalaya brings all the people of the community together without any discrimination. The entire clan comes together to pray for a good harvest, peace, and harmony. It is an old practice that still continues to have the same essence without any change in the old rituals. Every generation is continuing the legacy which has been bestowed on them by their ancestors.