Continued from https://highlandpost.com/democracy-of-khasi-dorbar-9/
The Diengïei peak is not known for any reverence with ceremonial observation because, according to the myth, the Diengïei, or the awful giant tree, was denounced as the tree of doom for mankind. During the golden age or Aïom Ksiar, the seven-huts or Hynñiewtrep were assigned to take care and be vigilant over all the creatures, vegetation or vigilant over all the creatures, vegetation, or any properties on mother earth under the leadership of the Syiem Lakriah. The mammon serpent or ‘Thlen’ was the fierce adversary of human beings since the divine congregation or ‘Dorbar Blei’. In the assembly of all beings, the mammon serpent pledged to earn material wealth and sustain itself with human blood or in Khasi parlance ‘Ban Kamai da ka longspah bad ban bam da ka longbynriew’. This was in contrast to the human oath at the congregation which declared to earn righteousness and live with human and divine conscience or in the Khasi phrase ‘Ban kamai ïa ka hok bad ban im tipbriew tipblei’. All the creatures and human beings nurtured, prospered, and sustained their livelihood in their respective habitats. The mammon serpent could not tolerate and attempted to disrupt every human activity each time there was an opportunity. Whenever the domestic cattle of human society wandered in the periphery, the mammon serpent would devour them and gradually start to attack any wandering human in any group of odd numbers who was out of the pair and possessed a weak aura. Humans are growing more rapidly among all living beings and mostgrowing more rapidly and most of them are more intelligent than other creatures. The twin brothers, U Sormoh and U Sorphin excelled among human beings with supernatural power and compassion towards fellow beings. At some point in time, the mammon serpent transformed into a kind and friendly person and pretended to admire them with informal interaction with the world around them; although the ulterior motive is a mischievous scheme to destroy and terminate humanity.
Within a short while, the mischievous creature tantalised the twin brothers and had a regular oral engagement with them. One day, while they were taking a break from their cultivation in the field, the creature told them about the foliage of the giant tree that might obstruct the sunlight and affect farming. Ultimately, the mammon serpent convinced them that the canopy of the ever-growing giant tree might overwhelm the earth and threaten all living beings. The twin brothers were persuaded by the mischievous creature to hack it off, even as they mobilised massive public participation, but were disrupted because the slashed marks were restored as if to heal the giant tree. Everybody was dumbfounded and rigorous effort was embarked upon, but it was futile as they could not break through until the tiny bird offered the human being a solution. Initially, the human being ignored the tiny creature, and consequently, there was no other option but to listen to the wren. However, before it was revealed, the wren negotiated for the remote portion of the paddy field to derive food for survival. The revelation by the wren convinced the human being that every night the tiger would lick the slashed portion of the giant tree and restore it to its original condition. The blood stain on the slashed areas over the exposed razor edges of the machetes and axes as suggested by the wren is an indication that the tiger was harmed by the trick. Ultimately, the tiger would not repeat his healing method and the giant tree fell to the ground, while simultaneously the golden vine at the Sohpetbneng peak also was detached from the surface of the earth.
The twin brothers Sormoh and Sorphin along with fellow human beings, succeeded in their endeavour to dismantle the giant tree or destroy nature by the influence of the mischievous mammon serpent; injured the tiger, who could be the sylvan deity that protects nature and is the root cause of the devastation is not the figment of the imagination of the mammon serpent but the meager purpose of livelihood for the tiny creature, the wren. A similar situation could happen in contemporary society where the minor purpose countermanded the major cause of the entire community.
Although, the mammon serpent and the tiger were accomplices during the divine congregation; later they separated from each other due to a conflict of interest. The folklore has a metaphor for the actual human nature of greed, jealousy, selfishness, conceit, and all sorts of personal ambitions and inhibitions. The trick of the mighty mammon serpent and the scheme of the frail wren blamed the tiger for their personal gain and used the human being to materialise their selfish intentions, without any concern of one for another. This is the social aspect of the story. Another version of the myth stated that Diengïei is not a giant tree, but a horrific flame that erupted from the plateau hillock. According to the local dialect, there is a variation that ‘Dieng’ is the flame and ‘ïei’ is terrified, which could specify the blazing fire. The remnant of both the stories is the swampy crater at the top of the hillock, which in the former story is the huge fissure due to the uprooted giant tree, while the other signifies the type of volcanic eruption. The expansive versions of the folklore will attract further scholastic investigation that might discover substantial facts to the mythology, as it happened with the archaeological excavation at Law Nongthroh in the foothills of the Sohpetbneng peak that indicated the ancient human settlement site.
The Shyllong peak is the habitat of the Shyllong deity with the sacred grove and the altar at the summit at the highest elevation of 1525 meters above mean sea level. It is the core of livelihood and survival for the entire Khasi community. The ceremony of paying obeisance to the Shyllong deity is being performed at certain significant sacred locations along the Shyllong plateau, which culminated at the sanctum sanctorum at the summit. The Mythological version stated that the Shyllong plateau is the primary source of the nine natural spring glasses of water known as the ‘Khyndai Umdih Khyndai Umtong’ which some of the major rivers of the entire land originated. They are the rivers Umiew, Umiam Khwan, Umiam Mawphlang, Umngot, Umshyrpi, Umkhrah, and Umjasai, although the other major rivers also have springs in the highlands somewhere in the periphery, the Myntdu from Nongjrong, Kynshi from Mawmaram, while Kupli is farther from Saipung forest. The ceremony is for agrarian purposes with certain specific rituals for the preservation of the water catchment areas. Some of the areas in the Shyllong plateau are designated administrative zones for traditional governance with the area known as Bisei, the erstwhile capital, which presently falls under the Defence land belonging to the Eastern Air Command of the Indian Air Force. The mentally deranged lady, Ka Lar undergoes through the immaculate conception of the Shulong or Shyllong deity, whereas the society reprimanded and exiled her to an isolated location. She wandered around until she gave birth to an infant near the Shyllong peak whose name was christened by her divine child, Shulong. After the inception of the regency patronised by Ka Pahsyntiew, the daughter of the Shyllong deity and the ancestral mother of the royal family, democratic governance was formulated with the neutral position of the chieftain or Syiem along with the executive council of the nobles. This is the proper establishment of the folk democratic principle of state formation of the Shyllong province or Hima Shyllong.
Therefore, the mythology of Sohpetbneng, Lum Ka-Meikha, Diengïei, and Shyllong is the treasure trove of knowledge that has percolated into the oral history of the Khasi people, including the different layers of the traditional institutions in the form of Dorbar Ïing or domestic council, Dorbar Kur or clan council, Dorbar Shnong or village council, Dorbar Raij or territorial council and Dorbar Hima or provincial council. Thereafter, in the British post-colonial regime and after the Indian independence period, the modern civil administrative system was imposed and the traditional institutions became the subordinate legislative and judicial instruments with constitutional protection. The recorded history of the land and its people started during the British colonial regime when the dominions were devastated by the British policy and the Constituent Assembly of the Indian Union formulated the Sixth Schedule and provided the Khasi and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Councils as the apex authorities to regulate the traditional institutions.
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