Shillong, November 16 : Meghalaya’s capital city came alive with a vibrant celebration of Jan Jatiya Gaurav Divas (Tribal Pride Day) on November 15, 2023. The state-level celebrations featured a series of events and activities aimed at showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Meghalaya’s tribal communities.

The day began with a colorful cultural procession that meandered through the city streets. The procession included cultural troupes representing art and craft villages, educational institutions, and ethnic associations. They were joined by tableaus depicting the lives and struggles of three of Meghalaya’s most revered freedom fighters.

The formal program commenced with Chief Guest Bah Paul Lyngdoh, Minister of Arts & Culture, laying floral tributes at the life-size statues of the three freedom fighters. He was joined by Guest of Honour Bah P. N. Syiem, Deputy CEM, KHADC, Commissioner & Secretary, Arts & Culture, F. R. Kharkongor, IAS, Secretaries and Directors of various Departments, and other stakeholders.

The dignitaries also took a walk-through of open-air museums that showcased the Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia kitchens. These immersive exhibits provided visitors with a glimpse into the unique lifestyles and cuisines of Meghalaya’s tribal communities.

In his keynote address, Chief Guest Bah Paul Lyngdoh emphasized the importance of preserving and promoting the state’s unique tribal legacy. He drew the attention of the audience to the Hon’ble PM’s interest in Meghalaya’s rich textile heritage in recent exhibitions, held at the national level. He also underscored the importance of highlighting the state’s culture and heritage so that the state and its culture is not confined to a footnote, but its rich legacy should be amplified and should resonate far and wide through events such as the Jan Jatiya Gaurav Divasand the upcoming Tri Hills Ensemble – II which will be held on 24th and 25th November, 2023.

Guest of Honour Bah P N Syiem, Deputy CEM, KHADC, echoed the need for closer collaboration between the Department of Arts & Culture and the KHADC in preserving and promoting tribal culture. He also reaffirmed the role of District Councils as constitutional custodians of culture and heritage.

In a significant development, Commissioner & Secretary F. R. Kharkongor outlined the objectives of the 10 day long Jan Jatiya Gaurav Divas which will be celebrated through a display of craft, culture cuisine, folklore, folksong, folkdance in the subsequent days culminating in the Tri Hills Ensemble – II on the 24th and 25th November, 2023, which will be graced by CM and Minister Arts & Culture with the theme of “Stories that matter”. He also announced the recognition of six new Art & Craft villages: Mustoh, Nongkynrih, Ialong, Babadam, Umladkhur, and Wahkhen. These villages will be officially conferred their status on November 24, 2023.

The Jan Jatiya Gaurav Divas celebrations are also serving as a platform for enhancing outreach on Viksit Bharat, a government initiative aimed at empowering marginalized communities. Various stalls showcasing IEC materials related to Viksit Bharat’s beneficiary-oriented schemes in housing, health, social welfare, and agriculture-horticulture were visited by the dignitaries and the public.

The day was filled with vibrant cultural performances, including a stirring rendition of the Tirot Sing anthem by the AROHA Choir and performances by winners of the Inter-School Traditional Singing Competitions. The mesmerizing sounds of the harp, played by MLCU, added to the cultural tapestry of the event.

Awards and recognition were also bestowed upon winning schools, best-performing SHGs and VECs, Social Welfare workers, and cooperation workers, acknowledging their contributions to the preservation and promotion of tribal culture.