Religion in Meghalaya is highly influenced by their cultural background and origins. With diversified customs and traditions, people in Meghalaya have strong faith in their religions.
Apart from Nagaland and Mizoram; Meghalaya is one of the three states in the country of India where Christianity is practiced in the majority. About seventy-five percent of the total population of Meghalaya follow Christianity. Therefore, one can say in all the districts of the state, this religion is highly followed by the people.
Amongst all the communities which exist in Meghalaya, which is one of the seven sisters of Northeast India, ninety percent of the Garo tribe and eighty percent of the Khasi tribe practice Christianity.
It was during the 19th century of the British Colonial era when India was not an independent country, the native indigenous people in the region of Meghalaya were converted into Christians. It was in the 1830s when the American Baptist Foreign Missionary Society had become actively involved in the process of changing the religion of Northeast India. However, it was during the 1900s, between the outbreaks of the World War, when the preachers of Christianity were forced to return to their home in Europe and America. But by that time, the root of Catholicism has begun to spread in Meghalaya and its neighboring states.
This may be the reason that the official language of this state is English. It is the most spoken language in Meghalaya, especially in the urban areas. However, when a rural place is taken into consideration, they are yet to adapt to the common language of the state as they still prefer to speak their native language. Nevertheless, they had never let this come between their paths of insecurities and continue to serve their country, state and nature with equal devotion and love. It is no surprise that people living in Meghalaya are known for their secularism and unique ethnicity.
Mary Help of Christians Cathedral is one of the largest churches in Asia. This church is a symbol of the divine, peaceful and beautiful which is located at Laitumkhrah, Shillong, a breathtakingly beautiful capital city of Meghalaya, also known as the 'Scotland of the East' due to its landscape that mimics Scotland. It was founded in the year 1936. If anyone is an architectural enthusiast, he or she cannot miss experiencing its modernity. What makes it compelling is that even after being built in the 20th century, one cannot ignore the modern architecture making it a perfect holy place to visit.
Despite Christianity being followed in the major region of Meghalaya, one cannot ignore the fact that approximately eleven percent of the population of states are Hindus which is the world’s oldest religion making it the third-largest religion of the universe after Christianity and Islam.
But when it comes to the people of Meghalaya, over ninety-seven percent of the Hajong, ninety-eight percent of the Koch, and ninety-four percent of the Rabhi Tribes in the Meghalaya follow the religion of Hinduism in Meghalaya. Therefore, Hindus in the Meghalaya are considered the largest religious minority. They are mostly located on the mainland of West Garo Hills, East Khasi Hills, and Ri-Bhoi.
As for Hindu devotees, there is an ancient 600-year-old Durga Temple, namely Nartiang Durga Temple situated in the West Jaintia Hill in the district of Meghalaya. It is one of the holiest sites for the believers of Shaktism. Since it narrates the history of hundreds of years ago, it is one of the primary sites for not only locals but also travelers and Pilgrims. Even the history and story behind this temple are ambiguous, it is said that the local ruler built this temple during that time.
Unlike other communities in Meghalaya, the Garo tribe have their religion, which is known as Songsarek. However, it is only followed by a small section of the people in this beautiful state. In the community of Garo itself, most of the people are Hindus and Buddhism.
Apart from Garo, a large section of the population of the Khasi also follows their religion, named Niam Shnong or one can also call it Niamtre. However, there is a small section of the population that follow Islam as their religion.
Madina Mosque is the largest mosque in all of Northeast India. It has gained immense popularity because it is the first and only glass mosque that exists in the country of India. It is a well-known place for not only the people who follow Islam but also the photographers and tourists who love to explore. This mosque has its distinctive feature and architectural advantage as its domes and minarets are made of glass, which is rare to find.
One of the oldest and least explored site sites in Meghalaya is Mawjymbuin Cave Temple. This magnificent temple has been in existence since the 13th century located in Mawsynram. Even though it is considered to be the most untold religious site of Meghalaya, one cannot resist the string of curiosity that will bring you there to see the naturally formed Shivalinga. It might not be explored by many, yet it is worshipped by hundreds of people every month, including the locals. A place, an ancient place which has got untold tales of not only the history behind the temple and its religion but also the history of this beautiful state of clouds and its origin.
Apart from being religious devotees, they have their own set of festivals which have their spark, joy and festivity. Festivals of Jaintias play an integral role in the lives of the locals. It a celebration of nature and solidarity amongst people. It teaches you about balance in life. Whereas as far as Garos are considered, they have till date sustained their cultural heritage and are strict devotees to religious events that celebrate nature and seasons.
However, unlike the above two, Hajong celebrates their traditional festivals along with the Hindu festivals.
The state of Meghalaya is a true symbol and inspiration to follow when it comes to diversified religions and cultural beliefs. They not only worship their Gods but also worship and nurture the creation of God - nature. Isn’t it splendid?