On the 23rd of November every year, Seng Khasi members following the traditional Khasi faith or the Niam Khasi gather to pay their respects to God, the Almighty. This celebration is a form of Community Prayer for protection of the distinct identity of the Khasi Race.
The festival of the indigenous Khasi faith and culture Seng Kut Snem was celebrated at the Weiking Field here on Wednesday with great fanfare. Youths, elderly men and women dressed in colorful traditional attires took part in the celebrations.
Earlier, a colourful cultural procession known as “Iaid Pyni Riti” was taken out in the city depicting the different facets of the indigenous culture and faith. The procession culminated at the Lympung Weiking where prayers were offered to the God the Creator and lectures on the Khasi faith and ways of life are delivered followed by a cultural programme.
The Seng Kut Snem is a festival that is observed to mark the Seng Khasi Movement. This day is celebrated to mark the beginning of the renaissance and awakening of the Khasi community.
During the British rule, continued assault on the indigenous faith and culture of the Khasis and Jaintias led sixteen young men to form an organization called the ‘Khasi Young Men’s Association’ on November 23, 1899 to preserve and safeguard the indigenous way of life also known as ‘Niam Trai Niam Tre’.
A year later, the Khasi Young Men’s Association celebrated its first anniversary and called it Seng Kut Snem and the occasion is celebrated every year to commemorate that movement.
In 1901, the Association was renamed ‘Seng Khasi’. This year the festivities marked the 111th anniversary of the Seng Khasi Movement.
Besides upholding the Khasi religion of Niam Trai Niam Tre, the Seng Khasi had also been working towards strengthening the traditional indigenous administrative systems involving the Syiems, Lyngdohs and Dollois and upholding the Khasi customary usages.
This celebration is not a form of a New Year celebration as celebrated by many other communities in India but a form of Community Prayer for protection of the distinct identity of the Khasi Race.
During the celebration elders impart oral teachings, publish books and writings and conducted many programs about the traditional faith, beliefs, customs, behavior etiquette and the Khasi culture as bestowed by the ancient Khasi predecessors.
Meanwhile, a major attraction of the festival are the dances performed. Men and women dressed in colourful traditional outfits and jewelries danced to the beat of the drums and flute.