Meghalaya Lifestyle

Each place in this universe has its distinct way of life, and Meghalaya is no different. However, unlike the other Northeast states in India, the lifestyle of Meghalaya is unique and distinct.  
The people in this region are known to be unconventional about not only their customs, traditions, and laws but also when it comes to fashion and lifestyle.

It is always said that ‘The first impression is the last impression’ and one cannot feel less content and proud with the way the people of this region dress up and take utmost care of their looks and appeal. Simplicity is the true essence of this part of India, which is not only reflected in the region’s natural beauty but also in the traditional clothes that they choose to wear.

When it comes to traditional wear of Meghalaya

The beautiful women in Meghalaya embellish themselves with the traditional costumes named ‘Jainsen’. It is an unstitched garment that is made up of mulberry silk and is draped around the body. The material mulberry silk is cultivated in Meghalaya itself and it is a perfect example of going local. As the beloved Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi says “Go Local for Vocal”. Another attire that is a vital piece in this traditional costume is the ‘Endi Shawl’ which is also made of silk much like the Jainsen.

However, with each community and residential area, the clothing style also differs. In the region of Garo, women who live in the interiors wear ‘eaking’ which a small piece of cloth worn around the waist, but the one who stays in the densely populated area wears long cotton dresses. In general, the Garo tribe women are seen with a blouse which is paired with handmade lungi which is called Dakmanda which is wrapped around the waist. The specialty of Dakmanda is its beautiful floral pattern adorned all over the six- to ten-inch border.

Just like the Garo tribe, the Khasi women wear Jainsen along with the blouse. One thing which makes their attire different from others is the ‘tapmoh khlieh’ which means “head cover’. It is a shawl which is made of cotton with check prints and is worn on the top of their heads, tied in a knot behind the neck and then loosely drapes over the upper part of the body. This was the way all the men and women in Meghalaya have been wearing it since we know it. At present, most of the locals, especially from villages and the elderly people are seen wearing the "tapmohkhlieh" to brave the cold weather of the region. and looks pretty much like any other shawl. The women belonging to this troop enhance their costumes by adding ornaments that are of pure gold and silver.

The clothing style of the Jaintia tribe has got more of a traditional touch than any other in the state of Meghalaya. They are known for wearing ‘Kyrshah’. It is worn over the head and mostly seen with a check design. It is usually worn after the harvest season.

However, men of Meghalaya wear a loincloth which is a long and unstitched cloth enveloping their waist. It is often confused with the Dhoti, but these two costumes are unique in their own way. The loincloth is often paired with a jacket, turban, or some kind of headgear which makes their traditional clothes stand out from the rest.

One of the most spectacular realities of Meghalaya is that this state still stands proudly unaffected by the modern western trend taking over the authentic cultures of India. In the midst of the clothing style and preference being taken over by western influences that is plaguing the country where the majority of the Indians have chosen to adapt to the western clothing style to blend in with the rest of the crowd worldwide, the people of Meghalaya deserve an applause for taking the traditional dressing style of their community and state ahead in the 21st Century.

With the traditional clothing, one can already agree and accept the fact that the people of Meghalaya cultivate and manufacture many of their products. They have shown vast interest in the making of handicraft items.

The region's Arts and crafts that one can easily find in Meghalaya are made up of cane, bamboo, and wood. They have mastered the skill of weaving, which has attracted not only the tourists but also the commercial market from all over the world. Thus, the Bamboo and Cane products paramount to one of their prime occupations and livelihood.

The culture and heritage in Meghalaya are very rich and distinct. Even though the population in Meghalaya is over three lakhs, yet they symbolize unity in the form of festivals. It is a pure reflection of the balance between humans, culture, natural environment, and the eco-system. They believe in spreading positive vibes around them, making the state peaceful and soulful.

In the era of liberalization and modernization, the people of Meghalaya are far ahead intensifying and more liberal than most of the other regions in India. It is often said that ‘Behind every successful man is a woman.’ However, in the state of Meghalaya, they have given this slogan an altogether a new identity. The community as a whole encourages their women to head the family by handing over the entire heritage in her hands- this is a huge responsibility that every woman in Meghalaya takes seriously. Not only is the matrilineal system followed here, but instead of men, it’s the women who propose marriage to the men. This might be a common scenario in more advanced cities across the world but not in India- though one cannot deny that this change has been accepted in recent years only in this country wherein women proposing to men for marriage is considered normal. However, in Meghalaya, this practice has been followed and encouraged since ancient times.

One often considers that the non-existence of non-metropolitan cities in the state can make the place boring, however, it is not the case in Meghalaya. Their lifestyle is as dynamic as the way of life in major cities and metropolitans. Their love and passion for music and dance cannot be compared with any other people of other regions in India and it will be unjust to discriminate their choice of lifestyle from others. Their music and dance are a mirror image of their progressive thoughts and liberal culture. They are known for their distinct forms, narrating various real-life tales through their folk music and dance.

During the tour of Meghalaya, one cannot miss the delectable foods that the taste it offers. They relish rice, vegetable curries, fish, and meat. They have their distinct cooking style and pattern, which changes according to the availability of produce in the region.

Their distinct style of living and lifestyle in its entirety is what makes Meghalaya a place of peace and soulful inhabitance. The beauty that occupies this region is not only seen in its nature but also in the region’s indigenous communities who have lived and thrived here for centuries. The truth and honesty of the people living here are an inspiration to many.