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BACKGROUND RESEARCH CHHOTA SA JOD Explorations in Reflexive Anthropology


Points of interest • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Wettest place on Earth - Highest Rainfall (1200cm average) Cleanest Village in Asia (2003: Discover India magazine) Living Bridges + Living Ladders Sacred Groves Matrilineal Society Seven Sisters Uranium Mining Became a state in the Indian Union in Jan 1972 out of the erstwhile Assam Mon Khmer speaking Khasis, one of the earliest to enter India Bamboo material culture Rock capital of India Shifting (Jhum) cultivation + Step-farming Eco-tourism (2 national parks / 3 wildlife sanctuaries) Limestone and Sandstone caves


Introduction to Meghalaya • • • • •

Megh(Cloud) + alaya(Home) {Sanskrit}: “Abode of the Clouds” Comprises of 7 districts while 5 administrative districs=ts of the Jaintia hills, east and west garo ills and east and west khasi hills. Two seasons: Winter and Monsoon Cool climate throughout the year Numerous rivers but non navigable due to rocky beds and strong currents (one of the reasons for bridge building) Cherrapunjee-Mawsynram belt experiences highest rainfall in the world


Introduction to Meghalaya • • •

• • • • •

Ethnic Groups Predominantly tribal, the original inhabitants – Khasi, Jaintias and Garos. Traces to ancestry  Khasi and Jaintia : Mongolian race  Garos : Tibeto-Burman race Khasi language is dialect of the Mon-Khmer family of languages, in India. Culture tradition- Matrilineal law of inheritance Main population- Agriculture ( 80% dependency for livelihood) Major Food crops- Rice and maize Commercial crops- betel leaf, black pepper, turmeric,ginger


• Burra Bazar or Idew Market-Khasi women wearing traditional Jain Kyrshahs manage all the shops.


Mawlynnong • Why and How is it selected? The status of the cleanest village sparked our curiosity. In the media this is attributed to the indigenous culture of the Khasis. And then again, the Living Bridges, the Cleanest Village are propagated by the Meghalaya Tourism Department as a major Eco-Tourism destination. Considering, that the assumption that Formal Education is inefficient (due to lack of contextual interaction) led us to take the initiative to bring the context into the classroom, the case of Mawlynnong was attractive to our purpose for 2 reasons: 1) We wanted to know what motivates the Khasis in Mawlynnog to ‘maintain cleanliness’ in the village; what motivates them to build the living bridges (in an age of easy availability of resources for building a concrete bridge in its place) 2) And if it’s true that the bridges (and the whole idea of cleanliness) is existing in Mawlynnong (and the rest of Meghalaya) out of any indigenous logic (and not tourism alone) – What conclusions can be drawn from it w.r.t. the dilemma between indigenous and formal knowledges? And how can those learnings be brought to the school?


Mawlynnong • Media Coverage Critique• No info about the post waste collection as what do they do with the waste they collect. Is it only about the immediate living zone ie village or the recyclability of the material? • Indian tourism > Foreign tourist • Nongriat, the village containing double decker : lack of road

http://humanplanet.com/timothyallen/2011/03/living-root-bridges-bbc-humanplanet/


• 87 families, 495 peopleBamboo bridge over river Wah Rymben • agriculture and also selling of broom sticks • Living bridges – Riwai village and Nohwet village - river Wah Thyllong. • Balancing Rock ( Mawryngkew Sharatia ) • Welsh Baptist tradition


• Village council hired special volunteer to sweep the roads, clean the drains and water the plants. • Free volunteers ie Residents take turns to sweep the road. •

(http://www.kavitasaharia-myroom.com/2011/08/day-in-beautiful-mawlynnong.html)


Questions that arise.. • In the perspective of a communication designer.


Questions that arise.. • In the perspective of general interest in culture and society.


Forms to focus Culture : • Rooster : U Blei Ka Blei. U denotes masculine and Ka, feminine • Betel nut – Kwai ( a paan) - leaf and the lime were needed to break down the hardness of the nut.pepper leaf • Matrilineal and patriarchal society • Khasi tribes: clans : sharing same family name • A celebration of Thanksgiving : a tribal characterstics – – –

• •

Khasi: Shad suk mynsiem : spring harvest dance Jaintias : Behdiengklam : drive away the plague or bad luck from the land. Garo : Wangala dance : drum: autumn harvest dance

Clan: land ownership pattern : individual Cultural shift: – – –

rice beer to tea men’s wear from dhoti tarban to trouser and shit Participation of women in local governence depending on the jurisdiction of the locality


• All khasi villages connected by stone pathways called King’s way- local betel nut trade


Forms to focus • Nature


• ‘Mawryngkew Sharatia’. (Maw=stone; ryngkew=earth; Sharatia=name of the god). Khonjee clan – Religion conversion •

(http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Asia/India/State_of_Meghalaya/Shillong1086721/Things_To_Do-Shillong-TG-C-1.html)


Forms to focus • Knowledge • Kitchen and Drying clothes • Rain water harvesting


Points to investigate • For the team going to the site • guide was Bah Henry Kharrymba (+919615043027), our cook, Kong Osana Mawroh and the housekeeper was Bah Ryngkatbor Kharrymba (+918014206740). For reservations of either house, contact the Society’s office at Shillong (+913642502420) or Ms. Kerol Laloo (+919863115302). The village Secretary is Bah Rishot Khongthohrem • Henry the best guide 09615043027 ( *speaks English/Khasi.


Local words • bamboo dustbins called Thapa

Background Research  

Introduction to Meghalaya

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