Meghalaya Pays Rich Tributes To ‘Founding Father Of Khasi Alphabet’ – Thomas Jones 

 

  • NET Web Desk

The Founding Father of Khasi Alphabet and pioneer of the Welsh Presbyterian Mission in Meghalaya’s Khasi Hills – Thomas Jones is being fondly remembered today on ‘Thomas Jones Day’.

Meghalaya observes the day, annually on June 22 to mark his arrival in Sohra (then capital of undivided Assam) 180 years ago. He used the Roman script in the early 1840s to record the Khasi-dialect.

In order to honour his legacy and immense contribution to Meghalaya, the state administration in 2018 announced that Jones arrival at Sohra on June 22, will be celebrated as ‘Thomas Jones Day’.

Jones was a Welsh Christian missionary who ventured beyond preaching, planting churches and primary medical aid. He taught the Khasis about basic carpentry, lime-mortar masonry, blacksmithing, coal-fuelled lime kilns and agricultural innovations.

His significant contribution was the Khasi alphabet in the Roman script; which greatly aided in emergence of the Sohra variety (dialect) as the common language throughout the Khasi-Jaiñtia Hills.

In addition, he was tirelessly engaged in the traditional missionary activities of schools, writing catechisms (Rhodd Mam, YrHyfforddwr), opening new mission stations. The Gospel of Matthew in Khasi with Roman script is considered to be his greatest literary success.

Thomas Jones passed away on September 16, 1849, at the young age of 39; and was buried at the Scottish Church Cemetery in Calcutta.

The burial remained forgotten for a century, until it was discovered by the noted historian – Dr. David R. Syiemlieh and renovated by the Khasi Jaintia Presbyterian (KJP) Synod in 1989.

Taking to Twitter, the Meghalaya Chief Minister – Conrad Sangma also remembered the Founding Father of Khasi Alphabet. “Tributes to the Founding Father of the #Khasi Alphabet, Rev. #ThomasJones. The Khasi Alphabet in the Roman script and the establishment of the Sohra dialect as the common language of Khasi & Jaiñtia Hills remains his legacy & contribution to the tribes & people of #Meghalaya.” – he wrote.