Meghalaya: Upholding traditional sports with bows and arrows
SHILLONG: Almost after 200 years since Legendary Khasi freedom fighter, U Tirot Sing began a siege against the invading British forces, as many as 300 archers from 13 Himas (Khasi states) got together on Saturday and unleashed a volley of arrows but this time around, the targets were not the British soldiers but on the made-made targets.
For the day, the 4th of April marks the first awakening of the Khasi states against the tyranny of a foreign invader under the abled leadership of its King, U Tirot Sing (The King of Hima Nongkhlaw).
Observing this day in a befitting matter, the Apphira Archery Committee (AAC) today organised its 26th archery competition entitled 'Ka Rong Biria Ki Hima Ka Ri Hynniewtrep' at Second Ground, Polo in Shillong.
"The significance of this event lies not on the competition itself but on our history dating back to 1829 when our King fought bravely against the tyranny of the British rule," Organising secretary of the AAC and also renowned columnist, Sumar Sing Sawain said.
Referring to the current political scenario in the state, Sawain said that there is a mad rush for the attainment of power and recognition of the traditional bodies in the Indian Constitution. "What we are doing here is our way of pursuing the matter through traditional sports as this event is a meeting point for all the Himas and Elakas, providing them with an opportunity to meet, discuss and share their views on this matter," Sawain added.
This event saw the participation of archers from different villages representing their respective Himas. Bows and arrows were not used by the elderly and young archers alone but the same finds its place in the hands of the little ones who performed enthusiastically all through the competition.
A 5 year old archer who took part in this competition, Shortstar Ranee said that the archery is more or less a family sports which was passed on to him from his father, Tailang Nongbet (also an archer). "I learned this sport from my father and my elder brothers and this is my first time here in this competition, and like my brothers, I too desire to become a great archer," Ranee said.
Ranee along with his brother, Wankitlang Ranee (6 years old) were first timers in this competition. "We were impressed with the way the arrows are shot and the most fascinating part was when the arrows hit its target," Ranee said.
Ranee was one of the many young archers who performed on this day. Seeing the enthusiasm of these little archers, the AAC have decided to provide them a platform to perfect their skills and also to recommend them to the Sports Authority of India where they will avail not only training but also educational benefits.
"We won't want the talents of our young archers going waste which is why we have decided to recommend the names of a few talented archers to SAI for further training," Sawain said.
This event also saw the participation of girl archers hailing from various Khasi States.
As always, the competition started off with a prayer service performed by Kwor Marbaniang (one of the elders of the indigenous Khasi belief, Ka Seng Khasi). Marbaniang offered prayers to God-'Ka Mei Hukum' while seeking his blessing on this day.
It may be mentioned that each team consisted of 2 archers with 5 arrows each. The winning team was awarded with the 'Stieh Khun' (a replica of the shield belonging to legendary Khasi chief, U Bor Manik Syiem) along with a cash prize of Rs 23,000 while the runner up was awarded a cash prize of Rs 3000.