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X’mas bonhomie around the hearth

Shillong, Dec. 12: Come Friday, and people from all walks of life will gather around the hearth to express their hopes and fears amid the sound of music enveloping the Christmas spirit.

Questions like “Is Christmas relevant to the world where injustice and hopelessness are the order of the day?” will be put forward at the Christmas Ha I Lyngwiar Dpei or “Christmas around the hearth” at the North Eastern Hill University (Nehu)’s Bijni complex at Laitumkhrah here.

Although it is no longer predominant, the dpei or the hearth has always been an essential part of Khasi homes where family members would gather every evening and narrate to each other the day’s events or stories.

Taking a cue from that tradition, several young thinkers, community and church leaders have got together and planned the Christmas event. They include Rev. K. Pyrtuh, Rev. A.T. Sohliya, Rev. Nathan B. Diengdoh, Rev. Moody A. Lyngkhoi, academician Lang Kupar War and songwriter Kit Shangpliang.

The 90-minute event will be packed with indigenous music, fusion and other items and also showcase the organic ways of celebrating the season of joy, with a slice of cultural fanfare.

Shillong’s Transfusion band Summer Salt will perform on the occasion. The evening will be spiced up by its array of original tracks both in Khasi and English. Shillong’s very own Fourth Element will add spice to the concert with funk, jazz, R&B and soul music.

Apart from seasoned and budding artistes, songwriters and poets including Timmy Kharhujon, Benedict Hynniewta, Ronnie Khonglam and Ken Warjri will come up with performances to engage the audience.

Alongside the music, artistic strokes by Careen Langstieh will capture the spirit of the event to complete the pack. For the first time, Langstieh’s live artistry will be captured on video and projected on the big screen.

According to Shangpliang, the event is primarily about the message the organisers want to drive home — the Christmas message of peace, joy and hope, and how it is so relevant in the broken world today. He said most of the songs would speak of many critical social issues with an aim to persuade the audience to introspect.

However, a tinge of humour will not escape the event, as stand-up comedians will seek to tickle the funny bone with their biriani.

Hot local food from the Khasi kitchen will also be made available at the event. Among the prominent Khasi delicacies are the famous jadoh (rice cooked together with pieces of pork or chicken) and a host of others. The other delicacies include jastem (rice prepared with gravy of pork, ginger, onions and turmeric), Mylliem chicken — prepared with the help of different condiments, especially the small round Khasi peppers and chicken — dohkhlieh (a special kind of pork salad, made from boiled pork, onions and chillies), dohneiiong (a gravy preparation, where pork is cooked with black sesame seeds), tungrymbai (prepared with fermented soyabeans), pumaloi (a typical Khasi recipe prepared with powdered rice), pukhlein (prepared with the help of powdered rice and jaggery), pudoh ( prepared from powdered rice, with stuffed pork which is then steamed) and putharao ( steamed powdered rice).

There can surely be no other better way of digesting these delicacies than sitting around the hearth in the crest of winter, waiting for Christmas and its promises to unfold.


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