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Shillong kids drum up world record
- Overwhelming turnout at percussion event ensures Guinness entry

Shillong, Oct. 28: It may not be time for the winter solstice yet, but the mood was akin to Saturnalia on a Saturday. Meghalaya, which boasts of the highest rainfall in the world, made a new entry in the Guinness Book of World Records today when as many as 7,951 percussionists beat drums to mark the beginning of the five-day annual Autumn Festival here.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex was a chock-a-block with spectators from across the country cheering the participants. They burst into thunderous applause as Michael Sean Whitty of the Guinness Book of World Records, who was flown from the UK to adjudicate the event, congratulated the Meghalaya Tourism Development Forum (MTDF) — the organisers of the festival — on the unique feat.

The earlier record was held by Po Leung Kuk Charity of Hong Kong which had organised a performance by 7,727 drummers in February 2005.

MTDF, comprising tour operators, hoteliers, event managers, architects and politicians is the official record holder.

Meghalaya already holds two Guinness records — Cherrapunjee for the highest rainfall in a month and Mawsynram for the highest rainfall in a year.

Participants beat drums for five minutes in an orchestrated manner with their Rudy Wallang-composed piece Positive Vibrations. Garos, Khasis and Jaintias, dressed in traditional attire, added colour to the event. Personnel from defence establishments like Assam Regimental Centre, Indian Air Force and Meghalaya Police also joined the ensemble.

Schoolchildren were accompanied by college students, housewives and even elders.

“It’s the experience of a lifetime. I never dreamt of being an integral part of a record-breaking event,” said a proud Sangyusang Pongeneani, a national awardee of Sangeet Natak Akademi and leader of a group of participants from Nagaland.

“My son was part of the ensemble. I, too, wanted to join them,” said H. Lyngdoh, who, along with her 10-year-old son participated in the event.

The other attraction was an electrifying performance by Air Devils of the Indian Air Force. Breathtaking parachute stunts held the spectators spellbound. Meghalaya minister for tourism and chairman of MTDC R.G. Lyngdoh said the new world record was a milestone in the history of the state. It would put the state on world tourism map, he said. Former chief minister D.D. Lapang inaugurated the event.

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