In the first, Shillong hosts the ABVP All India Office Bearer’s Meeting
In a historic event marking the 75th anniversary of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the world's largest student organization, the ABVP Meghalaya state had the privilege of hosting the All-India Office Bearers’ Meeting within the state, the most beautiful and pleasant natural place. Before 1970, Meghalaya was an integral part of undivided Assam which is now known as Ashta Lakshmi of the Northeastern states. The capital city, Shillong, served as the capital of Assam.
On April 2nd, 1970, Meghalaya was established as an autonomous state, achieving full-fledged state status on January 21st, 1972. Meghalaya derives its name from Sanskrit words, with 'Megha' meaning 'clouds' and 'A-laya' meaning 'abode,' aptly signifying the state's cloud-covered terrain. The state's capital, Shillong, is located in the east-central region. Meghalaya is renowned for its rich biodiversity, boasting lush forests with diverse flora and fauna, including species like oak, beech, deer, magnolia, elephants, tigers, leopards and more. Its avian population includes partridges, pigeons, hornbills, jungle fowls, mynas, and parrots.
The state's natural beauty shines through its hills, valleys, waterfalls, and lakes, with Sohra (Cherapunji) receiving the heaviest rainfall in the country and earning the title of one of the world's wettest regions. Meghalaya experiences four distinct seasons: Spring (March to April), Monsoon (May to September), Autumn (October to November), and Winter (December to February).
Meghalaya also boasts an extensive network of stunning caves and is home to three main tribes: the Garos, the Khasis, and the Jaintias, each with its own unique culture and traditions. Notably, these tribes traditionally followed the matrilineal system, where the youngest daughter of the family inherits all ancestral property.
The Garo people, originally known as Garos or Achik, mainly reside in the Garo Hills region, with Tura as the main town. They predominantly follow Christianity and celebrate the Wangala Dance, a vibrant harvesting festival held annually in October or November.
The Khasi people, on the other hand, have a rich indigenous history and are known for the Hynniewtrep-Hynniewskum, or 'The Seven Hut.' They have a unique tradition of Syiems (kings) who oversee various native states, and their grand celebration is the "Nongkrem Dance," a five-day festival held in Smit Village.
The Jaintia Hills are steeped in myths and legends, and the people here are deeply connected with nature. They have 12 Dolloi (chiefs) who govern the land, and their major festival is the "Behdeinkhlam Festival," celebrated annually in Jowai Town.
Agriculture forms the backbone of Meghalaya's economy, with rice being the primary crop. The state also produces maize, wheat, betelnut, turmeric, ginger, and a variety of fruits. Meghalaya's handicrafts, including cane and bamboo products, textiles, and ornaments, are highly regarded.
The state's natural beauty is further enhanced by its sacred groves, protected areas dedicated to local deities and tree spirits. The Mawphlang sacred forest is one such renowned destination. Meghalaya's caves are a treasure trove for explorers, attracting visitors from around the world. The state also prides itself on its clean villages, with one of them being recognized as one of the cleanest in Asia. Meghalaya offers a lush and green natural landscape, with attractions such as Sacred Groves, Nartiang Durga Temple (Shaktipeeth), Lum Sohpetbneng, and the famous Root Bridges.
As Shillong serves as an educational hub in the northeastern states, it is a source of pride for ABVP Meghalaya to host the Office Bearers Meeting in Shillong. This three-day meeting focuses on education and seeks to promote overall development in the field of education in the Northeastern states. It also addresses current issues in the Manipur state education system and aims to propose corrective measures. Additionally, students from the northeastern states will have the honor of representing their tribes and cultures at the national conference scheduled for December 2023 in Delhi, where students from across the country will participate.
In conclusion, Meghalaya takes pride in its legendary freedom fighters, including U Kiang Nangbah, U Tirot Sing, and Pa-Togan N Sangma, and continues to flourish with its blend of natural beauty, diverse culture, and warm hospitality.
(This article was contributed by Sh.Khublei Shibun, ABVP karyakarta from Meghalaya on Sep 2023 when the ABVP Meghalaya state got an opportunity to host the ABVP Central Team Baithak in their state)