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.
This dance is a religious dance festival which is mainly celebrated with lots of happiness and joy. The sacrifice of animal at the Altar is a part and parcel of the ceremony.. Sacrifices are offered to the forefathers and foremothers of the ruling class, to the reigning God of Shillong Peak and also to the 1st Uncle.
This festival is stated by young boys and girls with their excellent and beautiful dance steps Boys of Meghalaya are skilled dancers and sometimes more efficient than their beautiful counterparts.
The dance of the men folks is a beautiful ceremony. The Nongkram Dance is celebrated in the month of May, and in November. This is because of the shifting of lunar position which tells the time for the next Nongkram Carnival.
The men’s are the one who wear dhoti of cotton or silk with black coat which is embroided with silver thread representing the sign of nature of flora and fauna. There is a huge set of bow and arrows which comes under the form costume to suggest hunting activity and it also symbolises that they protect women tribe folk.
They also were a turban with feathers and carry an ornamental in their right hand hand with plumage during the dance. The purpose of carrying the plumage is symbolic to ward off the evils. Women’s are also properly dressed and they look beautiful in those outfits. They generally wear silk form dress called “JAINSEM” in the khasi language. It is unstitched in one piece. A black\ red\ blue\ margenta wrapped around the lower part of their body at their waist. They wear a blouse which is mostly in red or maroon velvet colour.