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Meghalaya’s annual Behdeinkhlam festival ends

     Shillong (Meghalaya): Thousands of people participated in a procession and festivities on the final day of the traditional Behdeinkhlam festival held here. The Pnar-Jaintia people in Meghalaya celebrate Behdeinkhlam every year to drive away plague, devils and all kinds of evil spirits besides praying for peace, prosperity and a good harvest. Behdeinkhlam is also an expression of the Pnar-Jaintia people to reaffirm their relation with their culture and traditions in the modern times. Besides, the Pnar-Jaintia people beyond age participated in a traditional procession. Participants danced, beat drums and carried Pagodas; signifying various evils. At the conclusion of the day though, the Pagodas were dismantled to signify the triumph of good over evil. During the procession, men carried a huge log and dance in a pool of mud, signifying a divine weapon to chase away pestilence and all sorts of diseases and evils. One of the tribal elders, Sumar Sing Sawian opted to describe the meaning of the festival in a modern-era as a ceremony to drive away all socio political evils. “Behdeinkhlam means to chase away all diseases, all evils, but in the modern context it means to chase away the corruption that is going on," said Sawian. Traditionally, everyone from the community takes part in the ceremony while priests perform a symbolic eviction of evil elements from houses and the region at large.
-July 18, 2009

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