- Gargee Nandi
Behdienkhlam the festival celebrated by the Pnars of the Jaintia community appealing gods to for protection against disease and pestilence was celebrated this year without the usual fanfare for which this festival is known.
The celebrations in Jowai were muted focusing on the rituals instead.
This day of celebration called Behdienkhlam is a combination of three words, Beh to get rid of, Dien is wood or logs and khlam means plague. These words put together translates to “ to get rid of the plague “.
The festival is celebrated by the Jaintia tribe for good health, prosperity, and good harvest.
According to folklore, Jowai left with no human habitation. It was only habited by a river nymph. U-Mokhai, the eldest of deities in the pantheon started the ceremony of dance and filled it with people.
In a ceremony pigs are sacrificed to the “Knia Pyrthat”(thunder). This ritual is followed by the priest called the “Wasan” ringing the bell on the road of the town to the starting point of the forest. Trunks of the trees are cut down in the forest and left for a couple of days in the woods. With great fanfare and celebration, the woods are brought to the town. On the last day, the priest leads the youth to every home, climbs to the roof, and beats it as a sign to ward off the spirit followed by a couple of rituals of celebration.