A brief insight into the Khasi New Year as celebrated by the Hynniewtrep
By Ladiangti Rani
We consider the New Year holiday as one of the most important holidays, with the entire world celebrating the occasion by inviting the forthcoming year in several ways.
The Hynniewtrep (Seven Huts), comprising sub-tribes of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, also celebrate the New Year using the Gregorian calendar until recently, when Babu Spiton Kharakor introduced us to the “Khasi New Year”.
Khasi New Year was first officially observed in 2019, where the founder Babu Spiton, made the announcement based on his research by observing and calculating the complete rotation of the moon.
In an interview with TNT - The Northeast Today, Kharakor spoke about the auspicious day.
TNT: What is Khasi New Year?
Kharakor: This is the second official celebration of Khasi New Year.
Last year, we observed the day on October 28, and this year, based on the calendar, the day falls on November 16. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, we base our calculation on the rotation of the moon.
The believers amongst the Khasi tribe - an agrarian society - have their almanack and they cultivate depending on the phase and rotation of the moon.
TNT: What made you research this?
Kharakor: Ever since the time of the British, we started adopting the Gregorian calendar as opposed to the Julian calendar (implemented by the Roman general and leader Julius Ceaser), which is being followed by the protestants and Greek orthodox church.
That is why we see a date and month difference in the celebration of Christmas. As per the Gregorian calendar, we celebrate Christmas on December 25, but many orthodox churches believe that Jesus Christ was born on January 7.
The discussion on adopting our calendar was held by RITI academy in Shillong and attended by prominent citizens of the state, including former minister Bindo Lanong, former KHADC (Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council) chief, (L) H.S Shylla, Hermon Nongrum.
The meeting debated that while other communities celebrate their respective new year’s day like the Assamese New Year, Bengali New Year and Manipuri New Year day, it is important for us to follow our almanac.
The adoption of various calendars by different communities and civilizations made me lose sleep, and I kept thinking about the calculation.
According to the Khasis, we say a month comprises of 28 days, not 30 days.
TNT: Why do you think we never had a Khasi New Year before?
Kharakor: Maybe because no one has really looked into it or researched the subject. I don't really know.
TNT: Can you tell us about this year’s celebration?
Kharakor: This year, we celebrated the day at the office of the RITI academy in Jaiaw Langsning, Shillong.
Those in attendance included Hermon Nongrum, Manik Syiem (Director cultural office), Raphael Warjri (President of RITI academy) and myself. We played the drums; we sat around and talked about many things till the clock struck 12, and we lit the torch and greeted each other.
TNT: What is the preparation for next year? How will you announce it to everyone?
Kharakor: As per my calculations, the Khasi New Year will fall on November 4.
But I could be wrong. We will have to wait and see.
We will confirm everything and announce it at the RITI academy.
(Edited by Andre Kongri)