On the other hand, recently in the year 2019, the forum of clan elders was formed known as Ka Synjuk Ki Rangbah Kur, which was spearheaded by (Late) Mr. Hispreachering Son Shylla during his tenure as the Chief Executive Member of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council. The purpose of the organisation is to work in tandem with the traditional institutions and formulate legal mechanisms for the conservation of the cultural heritage of the indigenous inhabitants of Khasi and Jaintia Hills districts and for the protection of the indigenous rights of the people through the enactment of customary laws.
Thereafter, the organisation is in the process of expanding its operation across the length and breadth of Khasi and Jaintia Hills districts for strengthening the cause of the community. The collection of data of all the Khasi clans for inclusion, scrutiny, and updating of the genuine clans is being formulated for proper registration and archive. Simultaneously, units are being formed at every district to decentralise its functions and facilitate maximum reach out to every nook and corner of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills districts. Altogether, there are more than eight thousand clans among the entire Khasi community including the residents of Barak Valley in Assam, other neighbouring states in the region, and in Bangladesh. At the moment, the organisation is giving emphasis in the State of Meghalaya with its headquarters in the capital city of Shillong. The immediate cause of concern for the Synjuk Ki Rangbah Kur is the deterioration of the various aspects of the social situation in the entire state of Meghalaya. Foremost among them is the social menace of drug addiction, the unscrupulous exploitation of local resources for economic prospects by the migrant residents, and the rampant inter-community marital imbalance in Khasi society.
In spite of the constitutional protection of the community, there are loopholes in the implementation of the law that the government machinery and even the traditional institutions themselves are instrumental in the interpretation of certain sections of the law to suit their ulterior motive. Every clandestine motivation is being facilitated through covert financial benefit in favour of the people in power. There are instances of a few avid advocates of tribal welfare that succumbed to the domestic obligation of certain nontribal relatives. On the one hand, there is a need to cope and catch up with contemporary development across the globe, while on the other hand, there is a serious concern about the vulnerability of assimilation with mainstream culture. Both are important and it is difficult to strike the balance because the values of oral tribal folk knowledge are fading away with the onslaught of the austere and well-documented data of the principal culture. Time and again, it has been deliberated that the indigenous knowledge system is being swamped by the popular dominant tradition. The case in point is the folk democratic system of public administration is being conveniently replaced by the Westminster model of democracy introduced and implemented by the British colonial imperialists.
Actually, every Khasi folk customs and practices are dynamic in nature and are relevant at all times. It can cope with the evolving social system and is suitable for the prevailing cultural situation. The significant aspect of the progressive system is the Dorbar Shnong, which has proven to be effective and appropriate for every local circumstance. Therefore, the problem is with the perception of the people as individuals as well as the community. The lack of thorough understanding of the fundamental aspect of the culture has compelled the people to retain the aged old customs and gradually became the rigid tradition. It turned out to be more severe when there is an endorsement by the community. This is the situation that motivated ethnocentric perception and caused the practice to become static. It may refer to the oral history of the Shillong province or Hima Shyllong. Prior to the formation of the Hima Shillong, it was known as the Raij Sawkher Lai Lyngdoh- an administrative unit of four clans of nobles and three clans of priests. In the olden days, the province was governed by the collective council of federal chiefs of the respective territory known as the Dorbar Raij and the nobles are known as the Basan. The four clans have jurisdiction over certain territories under the four nobles or Basan; they are Basan Nongkseh, Basan Nongumlong, Basan Swer, and Basan Synrem. The three clans have both administrative and religious authority over their respective territory under the priest or Lyngdoh; they are Lyngdoh Nongbri, Lyngdoh Nongkrem, and Lyngdoh Mylliem. The hierarchy of administrative authority is being maintained today according to tradition. However, the tradition evolved according to the growth of the social structure and new administrative leaders emerged from the clans that prevailed and settled in each particular region.
The growth of the society and the federal structure of governance sometimes led to territorial conflicts, arguments, and disputes that the mythological eminence of the Shillong deity became the unifying force to reckon with among the entire community. There have always been the traditional ceremonies and festivals of Pomblang Hima, Nguh Lei Shyllong and Kñia Ïewduh in the Hima Saw Kher Lai Lyngdoh and in the course of time, the tutelary guardianship of the Shillong deity demands the actual custody of the province by certain tangible mechanism. The folk narrative provided by the present Basan Nongumlong, Mr. S Nengnong Doloi indicated and authenticated the element of divine descent and the emergence of the royal clan of the Syiem Shyllong. During the era of Hima Saw Kher Lai Lyngdoh, Basan Nongumlong and Basan Nongkseh were the principal functionaries in every social and religious affair. At some point in time the two main nobles, Basan Nongkseh, and Basan Nongumlong prayed to the Shillong deity for the conferment of auspicious authority through chants and ceremonial performances during the ceremony of ‘Ka Nguh Lei Shyllong’. The divination revealed that the Shillong deity shall bestow upon the land with tangible being as the supreme authority. That is the miraculous and mystical appearance of the strange young girl at the Marai cave at Nongkrem.
The shepherds of the villages of Laitkor Pomlakrai area spotted the strange child at the tip of the boulder and raised an alarm in the village. Immediately, the young men of the neighbouring villages rushed to the spot but could not locate the child and alleged that it was an illusion. However, few of them were convinced by the narration of the shepherds and ventured the search in the periphery. Ultimately they discovered and sighted a young girl in the inaccessible and perilous caverns of the Marai rocky boulders. Among them, a person of the Mylliemngap clan was persistent and succeeded to lure the strange human child by enticing them with a bunch of tiny flowers locally known as ‘Tiewjalyngap and ‘Tiewjalyngkteng. Subsequently, he took care of the child like his own daughter, but according to Khasi custom, she could not assume the clan of her guardians. The people considered her of divine descent and believed that the Shillong deity must have heard the divination of the nobles, Basan Nongkseh and Basan Nongumlong, and was rewarded with the human child. Therefore, she came to be known as the daughter of the Shyllong deity and was christened her Pahsyntiew, literally meaning the one lured by flowers.
The family of the Mylliemngap clan brought her up like a normal human being in society; however, Pahsyntiew, revealed her extraordinary intellectual skill when she came of age. She would participate and sometimes debate at the domestic and clan meetings and her arguments would be exclaimed by the public. Gradually, her insight into the social and cultural situation earned her great honor in society. Further, she emerged as the outstanding persona of creative genius in every social, political, and cultural pursuit, which gained the attention of the nobles from all over the territories. In no time Pahsyntiew demonstrated her leadership ability in the contentious affairs of the State and her administrative acumen compelled the nobles to pledge their commitment to her leadership. However, she hesitated and consequently, she was engaged in matrimony with the person from Nongjri village of the Bhoi region. Nevertheless, the council of nobles acknowledged her mystical manifestation to divine imminence that they created a sacred abode for her formal habitation known as ‘Ka sad ka sunon’ and consecrated her as the queen mother or ‘Ka Syiemsad’. Thus the royal home or ‘Ïingsad’ came into being and any chosen monarch of her royal descendants is destined to be sanctified as the reigning chieftain, the primary arbiter of the council of nobles. This is the root of Khasi folk democracy.
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