The Telegraph
Wednesday , January 29 , 2014
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Fest to display Garo culture

Tura, Jan. 28: An innovative cultural extravaganza, Rhythm of the Hills, will begin tomorrow at Betasing in the South West Garo Hills.

The three-day event will showcase the indigenous culture of Garo hills and demonstrate dances from Khasi and Jaintia hills.

Art and culture minister Clement Marak will inaugurate the gala event.

Governor K.K. Paul and chief minister Mukul Sangma will attend the closing ceremony.

Head of art and culture department, M.W. Nongbri, told The Telegraph, “The event is being held to document the different dance forms and traditions of Garo hills. Apart from the famous Wangala, the event will showcase dances like ruga and chugan.”

Wangala is the harvest dance festival of the Garo tribe in Meghalaya.

Of the 12 sub-tribes of the Garos, the event will witness unique dance forms of the Ganchings, Chibok, Atongs and Chisak.

“The event is an attempt to portray the different dance forms and rich cultural diversity of the Garos on a single platform,” said Nongbri.

Though socially and politically independent, the sub-tribes of the Garos share a common language, culture, beliefs and religious patterns. The festival will unravel an insight into the rich culture and diversity of the Garos.

Mangona, known also as chugana, is a post-funeral ceremony.

This practice is almost on the verge of extinction. Nongbri said, “An attempt is being made to document this ceremony, which is the essence of the Garo tribe.”

During the chugana ceremony, a small hut with a bamboo structure is built on the courtyard of the house, known as delang. The calcined bones are kept in an earthen pot and buried near the doorstep after the ceremony. After the burial, guests are served beef and pork. During the performance of the last rites for the “spirit” of the dead, dance and singing continues throughout the night with the chanting of the funeral dirge known as mangtata (grapme chia) or kalee.

The dance ritual is accompanied with the beating of concave brass cymbals, the ringing sound of reeds (kimjim), the peals of horn-trumpets called adils and the soft sound of a chigring (a bamboo stringed musical instrument).

“The dances and rituals of Hajong, Koch and Rabha tribes will also be displayed at the event,” said Nongbri.

Apart from music, dance and food, the event will include a fashion show by renowned designer Tahera Parveen from Calcutta and display of local design by Tatyana Momin, winner of Miss Northeast 2012 and a designer from Garo hills.

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