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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

THE KHASIS

The Khasi are an indigenous or tribal people, the majority of whom live in the State of Meghalaya in North East India, with small populations in neighbouring Assam, and in parts of Bangladesh. They call themselves Ki Hynñiew trep, which means "the seven huts" in the Khasi language. Their languages Khasi is the northernmost Austro-Asiatic language. This language was essentially oral until the arrival of European missionaries. Particularly significant in this regard was a Welsh missionary, Thomas Jones, who transcribed the Khasi language into Roman Script. The Khasi people form the majority of the population of the eastern part of Meghalaya. A substantial minority of the Khasi people follow their tribal religion; called variously, Ka Niam Khasi and Ka Niam Tre in the Jaintia region. Other religions practiced include Presbyterian, Anglican, Roman Catholic and very few are Muslims. The Khasi people who reside in the hilly areas of Sylhet, Bangladesh are of the War sub-tribe. The main crops produced by the Khasi people living in the War areas, including Bangladesh, are betel leaf, areca nut and oranges. The War-Khasi people designed and built the living root bridges of the Cherrapunjee region. In several States of India, Khasis have been granted the status of Scheduled tribe.



Geographical distribution and sub-groups

The total Khasi population may be estimated at 1.2 million people. According to the 2001 Census of India over 1.1 million Khasi lived in Meghalaya [3], in the districts of East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi and Jaintia Hills. In Assam their population reached 13,000. The Census of Bangladesh ennumerated 12,280 Khasi for the whole country in 1991. It is generally considered that the Khasis consist of four sub-tribes: Khynriam, Pnar, Bhoi and War. The Khynriam inhabit the uplands of the Khasi Hills District, the Pnar or Syntengs live in the Jaintia Hills. The Bhoi live in the lower hills to the north and north-east of the Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills towards the Brahmaputra valley. The War, usually divided into War-Jaintia, in the south of the Jaintia Hills and War-Khasi in the south of the Khasi Hills, live on the steep southern slopes leading to Bangladesh. The Lyngngam people who inhabit the western parts of the Khasi Hills display linguistic and cultural characteristics which show influences from both the Khasis to their east and the Garo people to the west.
Traditional Attire

Dress   

The traditional Khasi male dress is a Jymphong, a longish sleeveless coat without collar, fastened by thongs in front. Nowadays, most male Khasis have adopted western attire. On ceremonial occasions they appear in a Jymphong and sarong with an ornamental waist-band and they may also wear a turban.

The traditional Khasi female dress is called the Jainsem or Dhara, both of which are rather elaborate with several pieces of cloth, giving the body a cylindrical shape. On ceremonial occasions they may wear a crown of silver or gold. A spike or peak is fixed to the back of the crown, corresponding to the feathers worn by the menfolk. The Jainsem consists of two pieces of material fastened at each shoulder. The "Dhara" consists of a single piece of material also fastened at each shoulder.


Social Structure
The Khasis have a matrilineal and matrilocal society. Lineage is traced through the mother, children taking their mother's surname, with maternal uncles traditionally playing a major role in the Kur(clan), while the father keeps an important role in the household. In Khasi tradition, the youngest daughter, the Khaduh will inherit the house and the major part of the property as she is the main caretaker of the parents. Despite its matriliny, Khasi society cannot be said to be matriarchal: although women are influential within the clan and family, participation in the traditional political institutions has been reserved for males(there is no such bar for participation in the modern Indian political process) although this is changing.


Khasi Language
 Khasi is an Austro-Asiatic language spoken primarily in Meghalaya state in India by the Khasi people. Khasi is part of the Khasi-Khmuic group of languages, and is distantly related to the Munda branch of the Austroasiatic family, which is found in east-central India.
Although most of the 865,000 Khasi speakers are found in Meghalaya state, the language is also spoken by a number of people in the hill districts of Assam bordering with Meghalaya and by a sizable population of people living in Bangladesh, close to the Indian border.
Khasi is rich in folklore and folktale, and behind most of the names of hills, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, birds, flowers, and animals there is a story.
Khasi language English
Khublei (khu-blei) 'THANK YOU' in khasi.
Phi long kumno? How are you? In short it is also used as “Kumno?”
Nga khlaiñ I am fine.
Kumne Short form response to ‘Kumno?’ meaning ‘like this’.
Um Water
Ja (cooked) rice
Dohkha (doh-kha) fish (meat)
Dohsyiar (doh-syiar) chicken (meat)
Dohsniang (doh-sni-ang) pork
Dohmasi (doh-ma-si) beef
Dohblang (doh-bl-ang) mutton
Jyntah (jyn-tah) dish (meat/vegetable)
Jhur (jh-ur) vegetable
Mluh (ml-uh) salt
Duna (du-na) less
Sohmynken (soh-myn-ken) chilli
Ai aiu? Give what?
Mynno? When? (past)
Lano? When? (future)
Hangno? / Shano? Where?
Kumno? How?
Khublei shibun. Thank you very much.

 



 

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