|Carved out of Assam in 1973, Meghalaya comprises the erswhile districts of Garo hills and United Khasi and Jaintia Hills. It covers an area of 22,429 square kilometres and has Assam on its east and north, and Banglades on its west and south. The population of the state from 1991 census is 1,760,626.
The bulk of the people belong to three major tribal groups - the Garos, the Khasis, and the Syntengs (Pnars) who are more popularly known as the Jaintias. While another section of the population is made up of such other tribal groups as the Rabhas, the Hajongs, the Tiwas and the Koches, there is also a sizable number of non-tribals scattered in different parts of the state.
The societies of the Khasis and the Jaintias, and to a great extent of the Garos, are matrilineal in character, which distinguishes them from other societies of the region. While the language of the Garos, who call themselfs Achik, belongs to the Bodo group of the Tibeto-Burma family, the Khasis and the Jaintias speak languages that belong to the Mon-Khmer family of Austric affiliation.
|Christianity has made considerable impact on the major tribes of Meghalaya, particularly among the Garos and the Khasis. There are, however, some sections among them who still follow the traditional religions. The non-Christian Garos call themselves Songsarik. The Jaintias had once come very close to Hinduism, particularly of the Sakti cult.
|The highlights of Meghalaya are:
• The people and the landscape
• Tura and the Garo Hills and -people
• Shad Suk Mynsiem Festival at Smit
• The megaliths at Nartiang
• Shillong Bazaar
All these highlights and more are the subject of two books by Peter van Ham:
THE SEVEN SISTERS OF INDIA
Tribal Worlds Between Tibet And Burma
IN DEN BERGEN DER KOPFJÄGER
Indiens wilder Nordosten
on other Northeast Indian regions:
ARUNACHAL PRADESH, NAGALAND, MANIPUR, MIZORAM, TRIPURA, ASSAM,
Christoph von Fuerer-Haimendorf
& Verrier Elwin