Mawlynnong Village located in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, also referred as ‘God’s own garden’ has won the acclaim of being the cleanest village in Asia in 2003. The village known for its cleanliness is located around 90 kms from Shillong and is a community based ecotourism initiative. The community has made collective effort to maintain the ambiance of a clean village.
Living Root Bridge
The village offers picturesque natural beauty, a trek to the living root bridge at a neighboring village Riwai. The village also offers a sight of natural balancing rock, a strange natural phenomenon of a boulder balancing on another rock. The adage “Neighbors envy, owners pride’ is apt for Mawlynnong as it has earned the distinction of being one of the cleanest villages in Asia, a fact that every Mawlynnong villager is proud of and other villagers are envy of. The village is quite pretty, especially in the monsoons when there is lush greenery all around, with waterfalls paving the way to small streams and abundance of flowering orchids dangling from the trees and hedges add to the beauty of the village.
The onus to keep the village clean lies with every person residing in the village. Local cleaning the roads, picking up leaves and throwing garbage in the bin is a very common sight. Bamboo garbage bins adorn every nook and corner of the village highlight the consciousness of cleanliness among the villagers. Cleanliness is an age old tradition and a way of life for all villagers. The village has won accolade for being the cleanest village in Asia in 2003 as well as the Cleanest Village in India in 2005. The village also offers breathtaking view of Bangladesh plains as it is located on the Indo-Bangla border. Surprisingly, the village has hundred percent literacy and most of the villagers are conversant with the English language. The village offers a number of small tea shops, where you can relish a hot of cup of tea with some snacks. Mawlynnong village has set an example for others that needs to be replicated in other villages. India Beacons salutes to the ‘spirit of cleanliness’ exhibited by the villagers through their self sustained efforts.
The main difference of Khasis which sets Apart from other tribes is that in Khasis the descendants are recognized from Mother and not from Father (Matrimonial Society). This is the unique feature of Khasi Tribe. According to Khasi Law and tradition the mother inherits the children and property but not the father. According to Khasi Laws the Marriage is purely a Civil Contract. Male’s marriageable age group is from 18-35 while women’s is 13-18. Arranged marriages do occur but not in a preferred form. Young men and women are given freedom to choose their mates. According to Law, a woman cannot be forced into marriage; she owns the children and properties. A woman may end the marriage at her will with no objection from her husband. The youngest daughter is the custodian of the family property.
Khasi Burmese Family
Khasi’s life is filled with lots of music they play musical instruments like drums, guitars, flutes, wooden pipes and metal cymbals. They also are fond of dancing. Khasis are warm hearted people. Their gesture of friendship is offering Kwai or Betel nut to their friends for every visit. The bamboo hats worn by Khasi men and women while farming are the traditional ones which have bright colors that match with the lush greenery of the farms giving them the beauty of a bug rather than a hat. The traditional dress of Khasi Men is called Jymphong (long dress which is sleeveless and has thongs in the front) which they wear mostly in festivals. The women have chance to wear colorful dress with several plates of clothing, golden crown with spikes and feathers on it.
Khasis occupation is called as JHUM Means shifting cultivation for their survival. They have a peasant based economy. Khasis have brown to light yellow skin and have folds on their skin with aquiline noses. They also love wearing jewelry. They wear silver or gold crown on their head. Khasi men wear large earrings. Women wear different earrings which are circular or oval shaped. Both men & women wear gold and silver chains around their waists. Staple food of the Khasis is Rice. Apart from rice they take fish and meat. On the ceremonial occasions they love drinking Rice beer. Khasi is the language spoke by Khasis, which is an Austro- Asiatic language. It is the part of the Mon-Khmer group of languages. The major festival celebrated by Khasis is Nongkrem. It is a five day religious festival which falls in the month of November every year.