The religious dance festival called Shad Nongkrem is the important festival of the Khasi tribe of Meghalaya. It is celebrated in November at the Smit village, the capital of the Khyrem Syiemship, located 11 kms from Shillong. It begins on a Wednesday and concludes on a Friday.
A religious ceremony is performed during the festival by the Syiem (chief) of Khyrem by sacrificing a cock to appease U-Lei Shillong- the deity of Shillong peak, and the gods of the ruling clan. Goats are also sacrificed and offered to ancestors during this festival, and so the festival is also referred to as ‘Ka Pomblang’, which means decapitation of goats.
The important part of this festival is the Nongkrem Dance performed by unmarried men and girls to seek the blessings of Goddess ‘Ka Blei Synshar’ for the welfare of the people and a bulky agricultural yield. The dancers clad in their traditional attire perform to the changing beats of the pipes and drums (Tangmuri). The girls dance in the inner circle of the arena, while men perform in the outer circle holding a sword in their right-hand and a white Yak hair in the left.