‘Real men do not rap’ read one of the towering moving structure or rots at a sleepy village in Jaintia Hills district in Meghalaya.
This is a part of the final day of the Behdeinkhlam festival where people from different villages gather to wipe out evil from society.
The feature of the festival is that the neighbouring villages carry rots (raths), colourful 30-40 ft tall structures made of bamboo and wood, at the main ground of the festival. The villagers carry the rots in circle on the ground after the rituals.
“This has been a major worry for the society these days. The crime against women is increasing day by day. We want it to be platform to send our messages,” said a participant in the festival.
The four-day Behdeinkhlam festival is organized by the Sein Raij Tuber in collaboration with the department of art and culture of Meghalaya government, Meghalaya Aids Control Society and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council.
So, since morning people of different age groups including the children made their way to the ground called Biar (sacred muddy pool) where the final day of the festival was scheduled.
The occasion was special. It’s a day to show their unity against the evil power in the society. So, the villagers from different parts of Jaintia Hills district in Meghalaya came together on Monday at Tuber Kmaishnong village.
The villagers from Wapung Shnong, Tuber Shohshrieh, Pamra, Pasyih besides many others made a bee line on the roads to reach the destination.
“We want the evil to be wiped out of the society. We want to progress and at the present day we also realize that we need to protect the environment,” said a local of Pamra village who took part in the procession to mark the occasion.
According to the locals, Behdein means to drive away with stick and Khlam means plague or pestilence. It literally means to drive away evils and plague. The evil that pollute humanity in many forms. The festival has another significant.
“It is used to seek divine blessing for a rich harvest in the year ahead. It’s the most significant festival in the socio-economic life of the Jaintia people those who believe in the Niamtre or traditional faith. Behdeinkhlam festival is performing on praying for good health and for the prosperity of the people and invoking heavenly blessings for a plentiful harvest of crops,” Bewill Shylla, president of the organizing committee or Sein Raij Tuber, said.
“The various rots carry different messages depicting present socio-political and economic issues of the state and apparently the Behdeinkhlam is not all about driving away sickness but also to eradicate the social evil that is inflicting the society,” said another member.
These days the Behdeinkhlam ‘rots’ are built on wide ranging global issues including health, politics, sports and of course the environmental issues.
“This time, we have seen messages of crime against women, on the importance of conservation of environment among others on the rots,” said Sannio Siangshai, a local journalist.