It’s time one looks at something other than Asia’s cleanest village—Mawlynnong, or the busy Shillong city, or the famous landmarks like Barapani or Nohkalikai Falls or even the Shillong Peak! Meghalaya, famous for its natural beauty—flora, fauna and landforms, hasn’t turned into a done-to-death tourist destination (yet), but before it becomes so, it’s important that people who want to explore more of the state also know what more is there to explore. Limited travel ideas often lead to the exploitation of that place.
Let’s look into one such village in Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills—Mawlynnu (a village in Mawsynram). A quiet and very less populated village, Mawlynnu is largely agrarian with activities like cattle-rearing and farming as the main source of income. The village population is divided into Christians and Seng Khasis (who follow the traditional monotheistic Khasi religion). One interesting aspect of Mawlynnu is its locals’ love for archery. The village’s playground often see a gathering of men (surprisingly the female presence is very less, even negligible, even though Meghalaya is also very well-known for its matrilineal society). The archers, with their arrows marked for easy identification, gather and a small betting pool is even made. Whoever hits the target most, wins.
Archery is not just a game in Meghalaya, it is also a part of their culture. In Seng Khasi tradition when a person dies, along with the burning of the funeral pyre, arrows are shot in various directions. In local belief, the arrows make way for a safe and smooth passage for the departed spirit. It is only fair to go and visit the place with such unique society and its traditions.
Photo and text - Precious Kamei
(Precious Kamei is a journalist and writer who travels around the country to capture and tell stories. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org )