Meghalaya: Driving away the plague | Behdienkhlam Festival begins on solemn note
JOWAI | JULY 05, 2020:
The annual Behdienkhlam Festival, one of the major festivals of Meghalaya, observed by the Pnars of Jaintia Hills, kicked started at Jowai in West Jaintia Hills district on Sunday.
The festival, which means "to drive away the Khlam or pandemic/plague/pest", assumed significance this year as the world struggles to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. The Sien Raij has informed that the Behdienkhlam Festival 2020 will be observed in compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the government incorporating norms of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for health and wellness of everyone.
According to President of Sien Raij Jowai, OR Challam, Behdieñkhlam this year will be celebrated in spirit. "Behdieñkhlam this year is not only about the materialistic joy but of the spirit," said Challam while calling upon the faithful to celebrate the festival in one's heart and in one's soul rather than in the body.
The significance of the festival is the reverence of the spirit of humanity towards nature with rich tributes to mother earth, through invoking prayers to Trekirot, the Supreme God and to the divinities to drive away plague, illness and any unwanted sickness from the land, which had impacted humanity.
On the first day, all religious practices started since 5 am followed by Ka Siang Ka Pha which is an act of offering food to the ancestors by all households.
In all sequences of the festival – big crowds to be suspended for this year and all rituals are to be performed by following SOPs.
The festival will be observed exclusively with prayers, libation and oblation, rituals and an act of beating the roofs with sticks by offering prayers to the Almighty God to bless the family and to drive away plague, pest and evil spirit from the house.
On the first day, the faithful will observe "Ka Symbood Khnong", a programme of fetching and transporting the Khnong for resting at the foot of "U Loomsooiung." And in the evening, all the usual religious practices will be observed under the leadership and guidance of U Dolloi and his councilors "Ki Wasan", thus marking the beginning of the festival.