SHILLONG: If one knows about the tradition of the indigenous tribes of Meghalaya, they would also know about the significance of their faith and their belief in mythological characters.
However, with the advent of modernisation, this belief and faith seems to have been over shadowed by science and the so-called ‘logical explanation of things’.
Interestingly, despite all the threats and challenges, the indigenous faith continues to thrive with the existence of some relics which even science cannot explain.
The perfect example for the same can be drawn from the depths of the Sacred Groves in Meghalaya.
1. Everyone perfectly knows that if one fails to adhere to the rules and regulations of the sacred groves laid down by the forefathers, the consequences can be worse if not death.
2. The tribals believe that the forest is protected by a mystical creature; some says it’s a ‘Tiger’ while some believes it’s a ‘snake’. Substantiating the above statement, a story was told about a man who was attacked by a group of miscreants near the sacred grove in Mawphlang recently. The interesting part about this story is the narrow escape of a person from the clutches of the miscreants who intends to kill him. How did this happen? It was told that this person took shelter inside the sacred grove the whole night as he believed that the mystical creature would safe and protect him from his enemies even as he said “I never felt more relieved and safe after I entered the forest.” And believe it or not!!! He survived.
3. There is one common thing about all the sacred groves in the state besides the already known fact of ‘Don’t take anything from the forest’. That common thing is the existence of the ‘sacred altar’. Every sacred forest has it, some in the form of a monolith, others in the form of an altar, covered on all sides by massive stones leaving a tiny space meant for thanksgiving.
4. The best parts about these sacred groves are the prevalence of a variety of flora and fauna. In Mawphlang itself, it was told by the locals that there were some creatures like frogs and flies which scientists thought to have been extinct. How true are their claims? Well, that is a mystery.
5. It’s tricky when one thinks about the repercussions of disobeying a set of do’s and don’ts when you enter the sacred forest. Recently, when preparations were on for the Indigenous Terra Madre 2015, there were reports which stated that during the construction of an alternative road from behind the Sacred Grove in Mawphlang, labourers were awestruck by the repeated appearance of snakes from a patch of land. The reason behind this mysterious appearance of snakes was the non-adherence to the rules. It was told that the contractors had asked the labourers to cut through a patch of land which still falls under the ambit of the Sacred Grove. For one whole day, the men at work could not proceed further with their work owing to this mysterious appearance.
It might sound scary, weird and mysterious. But the fact remains that till date, people don’t dare flout these sets of rules for their own benefits fearing punishment of all sorts from their God of the land –‘U Ba-sa Ryngkew’.