The Lyngngams and their Folk Dances


1. Introduction:

The Lyngngams are the sub-tribe of the Khasi people. Our ancestors told that the Lyngngams came from Burma before 1200 A.D. The original name of the lyngngams was 'Ingam' which the Garos call 'Megarm'. But later on it changed to 'Langam' and 'Lyngngam'. The first village of the Lyngngam is Nongkulang which is still existing now in the South-West of the Khasi Hills near the border of Bangladesh. After some hundred years of the migration from Burma, the Lngams/Langams/Lyngngams spread from Nongkulang village to three different parts. Some of them moved to the north-east of Nongkulang, some of them moved to the South-West of Nongkulang and some of them remained in Nongkulang area. Those who moved to the North-East are called 'Lyngngam Hynneng brei', those who moved to the south-west are called 'Lyngngam Hyrrum-brei' and those who remained in Nongkulang area are called "Lyngngam Langkymma". Today, there are about fifteen Lyngngam villages in Bangladesh and eighty-five villages in India, in the West Khasi Hills of Meghalaya spreading around the border of Bangladesh, Garo Hills and Assam.

2. Folk Dances of the Lyngngams:

There are six popular folk dances of the Lyngngams i.e. (a) Chad aideit (b) Chad reinmaw (c) Chad kutsnim (d) Chad Seinkhynrum (e) Chad Lynniang and (f) Chad Ku iing.

  • Chad aideit: It is one of the most popular dances of the Lyngngams. Chad aideit is a dance of offering a drink by the females to the males especially when they returned from war. It is also meant an offering of drink to any honourable man. The participants/dancers of Chad aideit are no limited in number. The materials used in this dance are swords, shields and baskets; and in the baskets of the females there are bamboos.
  • Chad rein maw: It is a dance of pulling the stone pillar (monument) to be erected in remembrance of any honourable man. In this dance the dancers use the cock feathers or pea-cock feathers in their heads. Females should not use to carry baskets while dancing the Chad reinmaw.
  • Chad kut snim: It is a dance of Thanks giving to God Almighty at the end of the year for good harvest. It is also a dance to drive away the Evil Spirit from the village. The dancers (males and females) should walk around the village with shouting and singing. Male dancers should hold swords and shields in their hands. One captain (Head of dancers) should be there. The end of this dance is in the middle of the village.
  • Chad Seinkhynrum: It is performed in connection with the ceremony of the dead persons. In Chad Seinkhynrum there should be two or four dancers and one or two persons should play the seinkyndoh or round-shaped drum(s) beating on the ground. Besides, one person should play the flute (Tangsohma). In this dance there should be only male dancers.
  • Chad Lynniang: It is a dance of remembrance for the ancestors who had passed away from us. It is a prayer that our ancestors may bless us that we may live in peace and harmony. In chad Lynniang there should be only sixteen dancers; six females and ten males. Besides the drums and Tanglihir (blowing bamboo/horn), wiangs which look like black plates are needed.
  • Chad ku iing: It is a dance before entering the new house. In this dance, one man who is called 'Nongknia' or a man of prayer should sit in the middle while the male and female dancers are dancing around. The Nongknia should pray that God may bless and protect the house from the danger. The end of this dance is by eating the dry fish

3. Dress materials and musical instruments:

In all types of Folk Dances of the Lyngngams, all the male dancers should use white dresses especially 'Jainboh' and 'Jainspong' as called by pure Khasi which the Lyngngams called 'Bongaila' and 'Khamlong' (Turban). The female dancers should use red and yellow dresses with red ornaments or sometimes mixed of colours. Besides that, the materials used by female dancers are baskets/ corns, feathers of cock or pea-cock,bamboos and Khasi umbrellas called ' Knup'. The musical instruments mostly used by men (male dancers) are the long drums called 'Dama', black plates called 'Wiang' and 'Mungor' (Mungor is bigger than the wiang or mrang), Tangsohma (Flute), Tanglihir (Blowing bamboo/horn), seinkyndoh (round in shape) and Sein-chynnad which aresmaller than 'Darna'. Swords and shields are used only by men or male dancers.