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Festival spreads peace message

- 1500 participants gather for Rhythm of hills in betasing

Tura, Jan. 29: A complete festive atmosphere gripped Meghalaya’s Betasing in the South West Garo Hills as the three-day gala event “Rhythm of the hills” began today.

The inaugural session demonstrated the rich cultural diversity of Garo hills. Rare and exotic dance forms of different communities are being displayed during the event.Altogether 1,500 participants from Garo hills have converged at Betasing to showcase the rich cultural diversity and tradition.

Art and culture minister Clement Marak said, “The diversity and rich culture of Garo hills is a testimony of our unique traditions. Our unity will go a long way in making Garo hills, a beautiful and prosperous place. The festival is an attempt to protect the age old tradition of different communities, which will help the government to realise its goal.”

Sports and youth affairs minister Zenith Sangma said, “The event will give us an insight into our culture and the rich ethos of our people. It is our duty to protect and conserve our culture.” He also laid emphasis on the government’s commitment to protect and promote the rich traditions of different communities in Meghalaya.

“We have to know our roots. It is high time that we start documenting our dance, food and lifestyle, which is on the verge of extinction,” said Zenith Sangma. “The festival will surely enlighten us about our age-old traditions and prepare the next generation to know their roots,” he added.

Director, art and culture, M.W. Nongbri, told The Telegraph, “By holding this event at Betasing, we are sending a message that government is committed to its goal. It is an event, which will ensure awareness for promotion and preservation of our dying indigenous art, culture and literature.”

The festival at this rural habitation, about 52km from Tura, also provided an opportunity to local talents. A cultural competition of different dance forms of Hajongs and Bodos were the highlights on the first day.

A youth from Ampati, Simseng Marak, who has come to witness the event, said, “I am fortunate to be here at this event. We are getting to learn about other communities and their unique dance forms.” An elderly lady from Betasing, Jhumi Hajong, said, “I am happy to witness such a grand programme. It gives us recognition as a community. I believe that people will get to learn about our tradition, culture and beliefs.”

Sangita Koch, member of a dance troupe, was seen very happy and excited with their performance. She said, “I am happy that in front of such a big gathering, we have displayed our dance form, which portrays our farming rituals.”

Meghalaya governor K.K. Paul and chief minister Mukul Sangma will attend the programme on the final day.