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Song Krittan marks end of Christmas celebrations in Garo Hills

Youths and elders performing Song Krittan at Bangsi Apal village in North Garo Hills, Meghalaya, on Thursday. – UB Photos
 TURA, Jan 2 - Thousands of people today sang and danced to the beats of drums and cymbals in the quaint little village of Bangsi Apal in North Garo Hills to mark the end of Christmas festivities.

 Marking the end of Christmas celebrations through devotional songs and dance is a centuries-old tradition in the region. Song Krittan is unique to the Garo tribe. The group celebration includes beating of drums, and playing cymbals and flutes, accompanied by traditional songs and dance.

This traditional form of celebration first started in the North Garo Hills and gradually spread to other parts of the region.

“While we were Songsareks (pagans), we only had the Wangala and devotional songs (kirtan), but after conversion to Christianity, this form of celebration evolved and became known as Song Krittan,” said CD Marak, a resident of Dainadubi.

This year’s celebration saw people coming from far-off places like Tura, Baghmara and Shillong, while many Garos from nearby Assam also flocked to the venue to partake in the festivities.

Song Krittan borrows itself from the word ‘kirtan’, which is a form of religious performance connoting a musical form of narration or shared recitation, particularly of spiritual or religious ideas. Early Songsareks were inspired by Hindus in neighbouring Assam performing ‘kirtan’. This tradition was caught on more than a century ago, which later evolved into the present form.

“Traditionally, we welcome the Christmas season about a month before it is due with children and adults doing rounds of Song Krittan near their villages. The one held in Bangsi Apal is open to all and any group can come and take part in it,” said BD Sangma, a resident of Tura.

Thursday’s event was managed by the 2nd Jan Dance Management Committee, comprising Nokmas and Sordars of neighbouring villages.

“People have come from places that are more than 10 km away such as Wageasi, Nishangram and Damra, to be a part of the celebration. They danced and sang throughout their journey to the venue,” said Jaffrey Momin, one of the principal organisers. The event started at 11 am and continued till 6 pm with non-stop singing and dancing by the revellers.

“This is a unique tradition and needs to be promoted by including it in the tourism calendar. Unfortunately, that has not been done and something as unique as this is yet to get its due prominence. Hope the Government will give the event its due,” Anthony Marak, a local resident, said.

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