From a correspondent
Shillong, July 16: The Behdienkhlam festival, one of the most popular religious festivals of the Jaintia community of Meghalaya, ended on Sunday amidst much fanfare and religious fervour.
Organized annually by the Sein Raij Jowai, this unique festival is held after the sowing season is over as an expression to overcome the destructive forces of nature, including diseases, and an invocation is made to God for a good harvest. “Khlam” means plague and “Beh Dien” means to drive away the plague.
Several dignitaries were present on the occasion at Jowai, including Meghalaya Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court Justice Dinesh Maheshwari.
Participating at the festival were niamtre faithful (followers of the indigenous faith), with both young and the old from various localities of Jowai taking part in full gusto.
There were rots (raths) from various localities of Jowai and outside the town like Iawmusiang, Seiñ Tyllilang Ladthadlaboh, Umshangïar and Seinraij Ummulong, besides Shillong, adding colour to the festival.
The colourful rots had beautiful messages depicting the present socio-political and economic issues confronting the State. The festival symbolized that Behdienkhlam is not just all about driving away a disease, but to also drive away all social evils afflicting the society today.
The rot from Iawmusiang locality of Jowai depicted the growing atrocities on women. The rot of Panaliar locality depicted the ill-effects of smoking and how it affects one’s health, while and a similar rot from Seintyllilang Ladthadlaboh depicted the need to preserve the environment. Meanwhile, elders of the Sein Raij, including the dolloi as the religious head, performed various rituals before the rots were brought to the pool. Earlier, the ‘Symbud Khnong’, a log of great length, was brought to the venue and thousands of people thronged to get a chance to touch it. It is believed that touching the Khnong will protect a person from all sorts of diseases, besides ensuring prosperity in all work and businesses that he does.