SHILLONG: Myths and legends passed on from generations form an integral part in the Khasi society, beliefs are what keep it going, however, the truth remains a mystery with no evidence to support such claims.
Astonishing as it may sound, but be rest assured, these tales and legends certainly leaves one wanting for more.
One such legend that is doing the round is the tale of an aged old boat abandoned at Law Lieng (sacred grove) in Sohra Rim. It is believed that this boat was left abandoned in this place millions of years ago when the Sohra was underwater.
Though, what is left of the boat is but only a boat-like shaped sculpted in the earth which the villagers believe to be Noah’s Ark.
As strange as it sounds, but the villagers’ beliefs repels any scientific or geographic explanation other than what had been passed on from their ancestors.
According to the Sordar of Sohra Rim Living Wahlang, he said according to legends, there were actually two boats in the beginning, one inside the sacred grove (the signs of which are still visible) while the other (now disappeared and remained but a tale of a lost boat), was drifted away, the wreckages of which, was found outside the sacred forest, which is not very far from the first boat.
“The boat inside the forest which was abandoned millions of years ago is now but a muddy pit in the shape of a huge boat, but what’s interesting about this particular pit is that, nothing grows inside this pit and even water does not accumulate inside the pit, no matter how heavy the rain is,” Wahlang said.
The pit is surrounded on its sides by age-old trees; with its roots acting like boundaries while branches with colourful leaves cover the pit like one tinted roof.
“The mystery of the lost boat outside the forest remains hidden as our ancestors believe that natural calamities coupled with geographical changes had caused the boat to be buried inside the earth,” he stated.
Furthermore, Wahlang stated that the sacred forest located at Sohra Rim got its name from this boat and till date; this forest has been called ‘Law Lieng’ or ‘Boat forest’. He said that previously, rites and rituals used to be conducted inside this forest but with time, people shifted their place of worship from this forest to a nearby valley, now fenced and cemented, an altar where faithful of the Seng Khasi from this village gathers every once a year to offer their obeisance.
The Sordar said their ancestors believed that this boat could be Noah’s Ark. However, there are other explanations which say that the boat belonged to early settlers of the then hilly areas. “It was said that most of the places like Sohra and the villages beyond it including the areas located in West Khasi Hills including Mawsynram, lies underwater (Bay of Bengal) millions of years ago, which explains the fertility of the land and the discovery of aquatic fossils,” veteran journalist and elder of Seng Khasi Sumar Sing Sawain said.
While a detail study and research to ascertain the existence of the boat is yet to be conducted, Wahlang said that it seems this place has attracted many scholars and students of universities and colleges including tourists.
A little about Sohra Rim—This village derives its name from the early settler, whose name was Sohra, an elderly woman who settled in this place for many years but later moved to Sohra. This village housed as many as 100 households, majority of whom are still linked to their ancestral faith, Ka Niam Khasi.
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