Ms Pushpa Nag, one of our members, shares her childhood memories of Shillong with Mousumi Gupta.
More than speaking about bungalows with manicured lawns, crystal-clear water falls, lush green valleys and mountains surrounded by walking trails which they used to take to school, Ms Nag was more excited to speak about one of the most interesting tribes, the Khasis, who mainly inhabit the Khasi and Jaintia hills in Meghalaya.
“Khasis form the chunk of the population in Meghalaya. I felt proud when I saw women’s empowerment in its most effective form among them. The young generation is given the freedom to choose life partners. In their culture, the girls cannot be forced into marriage. Moreover, she may end the marriage at her will with no objection from the husbands. After marriage, the groom comes to live at the bride’s house,” said Ms Nag.
“Khasis follow a matrilineal system of inheritance and only the youngest daughter is eligible to inherit the ancestral property and is the custodian of the family property,” said Ms Nag.
Asked about the unique feature of the Khasis, Ms Nag explained: “The descendants are recognised from the mother and not the father. According to their laws and tradition, the mother inherits the children and property but not the father. The property rights are given to women and all the decisions in a family occur under the senior-most female member.”
“The men in the society cannot have a house of their own; they have to either live in the house of their mother, sister, wife or daughter. Even the most efficient male members of the clan cannot do anything on his own and are considered second only after the women.”
“They are very hardworking in nature and their respect for any type of job is something to learn from them. There was a maid in our house, who belonged to the Khasi community. The maid’s daughter used to come after school to our house to help her mother in work without any hesitation. The girl used to study in a reputed school.”
Sealing her respect and fondness for the Khasis, Ms Nag said: “I salute this music-loving tribe who are warm-hearted, simple, devoid of complex doctrines of any kind and still guard their heritage.”
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