Ki Kyntien Ba Kyntang U Ramakrishna

la pynkylla da I Bah P S Lyngdoh

Ka ba bteng

U Kynrad bad u Nongbud
Rymphang 1882
Haba ki la leit phai pat haka kamra u Ramakrishna baroh arngut kila iathuh khana. U Sidhu ula iathuh ha u M ba iaka kper iingmane la shem daka Rani Rasmani. U la ong ba ïa u blei la mane hangta man ka sngi kum ka Kali, Krishna bad Shiva, bad hapoh kut kata ka khyrdop bun ki Sadhu bad ki nongkhrong bala ai bam. Haba kila poi pat hakhmat jingkhang u Ramakrishna, ki shem ba kala khyrdep bad ba ka Brinda ka nongsumar iing ka dang ieng habar. U M uba la ju mlien haki rukom im ki phareng un ym rung hapoh khlem da ioh jingbit, ula kylli iaka, “La u riewkhuid u dong ha iing?”
Ka Brinda kala jubab, “Hooid, u don hapoh kamra”.
U M: “Katno por u don hangne?”
Ka Brinda: “Ula don la kham slem bha”
U M: “U ju pynpule bun ki kot?”
Ka Brinda: “Ki kot; O! Em, em. Ki don lut ha u thylliej jong u.”
U M uba dang shu pyndep ki jingpule ha kolej. Kala pyn-lyngngoh ïa u ban iohsngew ba u Ramakrishna um ju pule kot.

U M: “Lehse kala dei ka por duwai lehniam janmiet. Ngi lah ban rung shapoh? Phin pynong lem ïa u ba ngi da thrang/sliang ban iohi ïa u?”
Brinda: “Rung rung, khun, rung shapoh bad shongkhop.”
Haba ki la rung hapoh kamra, kila shem ba u Ramakrishna u don marwei ba u da shong haka shuki dieng. Dang shu dep thang ïa ki jingthang pyniwbih bad la khang lut ki jingkhang. Mar ïa rung hapoh kamra u M da ki kti ba khylliap u la nguh ïa u kynrad. Te, haka jingpynidak u kynrad, ma u bad u Sidhu kila shong ha madan. U Ramakrishna ula kylli ïa ki.“Hangno phi shong, hangno phi sah? Phi trei phi ktah aiu? Balei phi ïa wan sha Baranangore?” U M ula jubab iaki jingkylli, hynrei u la iohi teng teng ba u kynrad ym i kren tip briew kumno re. Hadien ula sngewthuh ba ïa kane ka rukom jinglong la khot ka jingpyrkhat blei(bhava), ka jingieid buaid blei. Ka long kum ka jingpynleit jingmut ba peit shlip u nongkhwai uba la shong sah bad peit shlip hala u ryngwiang, baka dohkha ka wan bad nguid ïa u khwai, bad ba u ksai u sdang pyrkhing bad u nongkhwai ula pynleit jingmut shlip, u bat bha ïa u ryngwiang bad u peit sani bha kumno u ksai u iaid jai bad u da thrang ba ym kwah kren iano iano ruh. Kum kata ka ju long ka ju jia ha u Ramakrishna man ka teng hadien ka por prem miet. Teng teng ym ju tip briew ei ei ïa kane ka pyrthei sawdong.
U M: “Lehse, phi kwah ban duwai lehniam prem miet. Tangba ka lap kumta, ngan mih noh shuwa.”
U Ramakrishna: (u dang don sah haka jinglap buaid blei) “Em, ka duwai lehniam por prem miet? Em’ kam dei thik kumta!
Hadien ka jingjubab ktien ba shipor, u M ula nguh ïa u kynrad bad ula mih noh. Sa wan biang “ong u Ramakrishna.”
Ha lynti haba u la wan phai sha iing, u M ula lyngngoh: “Uei une u briew ba jar jar jinglong, uba la khring ïa nga sha ïa u? Ka lah ban long ba u briew u bym don jingnang jingstad ym long uba khraw? Haduh katno ka long kaba phylla! Nga dei eh ban ïa kynduh pat ïa u. U la ong dalade hi, ‘Sa wanbiang,’ “Ngan da leit khnang lashai ne la shisngi.”

Yn dang bteng

Education Relieff by Ramakrishna Mission

The Sohra and Shillong centres of Ramakrishna Mission in a joint venture successfully demonstrated the technological capability of conducting online classes in a no-internet zone. On 14 September 2020 online academic classes of HIKAI(Hybrid Interactive Knowledge Assimilation Initiative) from classes 1 to 12 were inaugurated at Ramakrishna Mission Secondary School, Sohbar by Bah A S Mukhim, SDO, Sohra Civil Subdivision and other dignitaries. Esteemed guests witnessed the demonstration of the software and part
icipated in the teaching learning process being students themselves. Android tabs were distributed among the students. All the prerecorded sessions were well conceived, designed and presented through the blend of slides, audio-visuals and animations.
Moving away from the popular trend of sending notes and videos over social media platforms, RKM has come up with quality contents and a hybrid platform of their own that enables students to have a two-way communication in realtime and through an Android App even without an active internet connection, with the help of a WiFi zone and a local server.The HIKAI project is free for all the students of MBOSE. They can register at The project has the potential of helping lakhs of students across the state.

Mario Pathaw, Alumnus of IIT, Bombay Bagged Crystal Award 2020

Shillong: August 15, 2020: The Crystal Award 2020 for Excellence in Visual Arts was conferred upon Mario Pathaw by the State Governor, Mr Tathagata Roy at Raj Bhavan today after unveiling the portrait of Sardar Vallabhai Patel and the cultural paintings unveiled by the First Lady, Mrs Anuradha Roy. The Governor appreciated the effort of Riti Academy of Visual Arts for promotion of art and lauded the relentless pursuit of its Chairman, Raphael Warjri for the outstanding artworks that have adorned the Durbar Hall of Raj Bhavan. The award was conferred in memory of Crystal Gayle Kharnaïor, the theatre artiste that had passed away in 2017.

The ceremony was conducted by Raphael Warjri in the presence of Secretary to the Governor, Mr Pravin Bakshi, officials and staff of Raj Bhavan. In his address, Warjri expressed gratitude to the Governor for considering the Award function at Raj Bhavan in spite of the current fragile situation due to the COVID 19 pandemic. He wanted to place on record that the pictures at Raj Bhavan were painted along with his talented apprentices, Skhemlang Hynñiewta and Denis Marbañiang.
The meritorious award received by Pascal Mario Kmenlang Pathaw is the outcome of his dedication to art that he had grasped enormous amount of folk knowledge on Khasi cultural heritage and is well versed with the various elements of the contemporary society. It is observed that the family legacy is instrumental to nurturing and cultivating positive vibes that have motivated and inspired his works to attain commendable impact and excellence. The creative and original presentation of his graphic novel, film and other visual storytelling assignments is a testimony of his passion, dedication and distinction of his performance. Mario Pathaw is an IIT, Bombay Post-Graduate Degree holder in Master of Design and Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture and is an ardent expert of innovative and aesthetic deliverance.
In recognition of his outstanding role to the growth and progress of the prospective entity of Khasi visual culture and folk heritage, Riti Academy shortlisted his name among few nominees to honour his contribution with the Crystal Gayle Memorial Award 2020 for Excellence in Visual Arts.
In commemoration of the auspicious event, an Art Gallery and Exhibition of Mario Pathaw artworks was inaugurated by Mr F R Kharkongor, IAS, Commissioner Secretary Arts and culture at the newly opened MAD Gallery, Jaiaw Langsning. In his inaugural speech, Kharkongor spoke at length on the various aspects of visual art as a cultural expression and suggested for the formulation of the Art and Culture policy. As part of the exhibition, Mr Frederick D Hynñiewta, an expert of Art History delivered the lecture on the relevance of art with society and acknowledged the significance of the new National Education Policy, which stressed on the importance of art and culture in academic education. The MAD Gallery of Riti Academy is being patronised by Mrs Saihun Phanbuh of Kay Eem Dee Children Centre. The Exhibition is open to public till Saturday next, the 22nd August, 2020.

Benedict Skhemlang Hynñiewta

Benedict Skhemlang Hynñiewta is a Lecturer in the Centre for Cultural and Creative Studies, North Eastern Hill University pursuing PhD in the Folklore Department. He is also a versatile flautist performing in various prestigious international music arena. He has been the member of Lalit Kala Akademi and the North East Zonal Cultural Centre and associated with the local musical band ‘Na la Rympei’.

Benedict has a new series of paintings entitled ‘Destiny’, which comprise of visual representation of sound in the square blocks that reflect the melody of his musical composition embedded in each and every block of the artwork. His consistent involvement in visual arts and music has brought about this new dimension of aesthetic expressions.

Two Birds

Born in Japan as a grand daughter of a Buddhist monk she studied art in New York, built a family in Brazil, and living in India since 2012. Her cross-culture background spanning three remarkable different cultures (Japan/Brazil/India) has given her a unique set of conceptual tools to connect and give meaning to the environment around her. Continuously drawing from her knowledge of and belief in Indian and Japanese spiritual mythology, her multi-disciplinary practice is a delightful chaotic mix of visual, sculptural, conceptual, performative, spiritual and musical expression. Her sensibilities as a visual artist are strong and poetic, however her real strength is her performance work.

Reiko Shimizu

Tears in April are the sudden snow out of season and falling petals of cherry blossoms
Transformed into the countless stars and melted away beyond the milky way
Innumerous waves of heavenly Gangaa
Carried away my friend in silence
Embraced in the mantle of white darkness
Gently dissolved away…Far beyond the eternity

Aspects of Orality in Literatures from Northeast India

Mamang Dai the writer from Arunachal plumbs the depths of the so called unrecorded and, therefore, unknown. In another book The Black Hill (2014) she has done exhaustive research on the agency of the coloniser in the hills of Arunachal Pradesh. At this level the book is all about tangible, linear history. The warp and weft of the book, however, is in the undergrowth of the forest, the playing field of her characters who weave into the narrative stories of obligations to clan and fealties to the spirit world. Kajinsha’s struggle with his own people, his inner turmoil and the combinations and permutations that emerge from communities on the throes of urgent changes, wraps his and Gimur’s love story within the intangibles of an oral community that, for one, places importance upon dreams and dreaming, as signifiers of other realities and truths more profound and powerful. Thus the intersection of the human and spirit world speaks about the acceptance of parallel worlds in communities that profess to access the spirit of the forest and the universe itself. Magically real perhaps, reminiscent of the novels of the Columbian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez who made famous his grandmother’s story-telling habit of subverting the rules of linearity, but the question is, is magical an appropriately complete enough word to hold the wealth of knowledge that has been sustained by an oral paradigm upon which the speaking imagination was whetted and sustained?
There are no easy answers to this, only attempts to follow or understand the serrated course of the oral, such as the flight of the released arrow or the lime-marked forehead indicating favour from the gods or the defiant howl of the sentinel-dog in the dark. And as writers have to depend upon memory, another question that follows is, can one hold the oral paradigm in place when it has already been so eroded? Orality within modern paradigms is a subject of much discussion and many induced sessions. But orality as forming the “resistant” (Syiem 22-34) bedrock of indigenous world-views is a cryptic issue. The wrestle with orality and for orality, is indeed an important dimension for writers from North-East India, who are groping, within the shadow areas of their own oralites, with imported tools that have no apparent connection with the oral mindscape of their ancestors. What has been thrown up, however, is a rich assortment of, so called uncategorised material that springs directly from those who are attempting to bridge the gap between the writing and the speaking, self-appointed oracles affiliated to the truth of the ancestor.

He is the ancestor who has provided the foundational logic for an oral paradigm that has freed the dynamic of time and space from sequential reality. Within the context of story-telling from North-East India then, there is no dearth of non-linear and non-sequential narratives that resist containment within the material boundaries of existence. Experiential reality within these narratives navigates a journey that has as its starting point the physical universe; the here and now. However, transformations and interventions from other worlds form part of the natural order of a world-view that is porous enough for collisions and juxtapositions to take place with these other worlds. The unbridled imagination at work is able to balance multiple realities and multiple worlds together. The sleeping river in When the River Sleeps is only part of one order, that of the spirit world. There are multiple time-cycles, multiple generations of humans and non-humans, and multiple tellings within the narrative. Vilie’s walk is through the natural cycle of human time. But in the course of experiences that enhance his perception he penetrates physical walls and enters dimensions other than his own. This constitutes the substance of stories in these parts. They may seem unintelligible and unfamiliar to the uninitiated but through generations in time, they have worked themselves seamlessly into the telling. The structured dimensions of reality and linear time are non-existent and non-functional entities. To the “educated” reader these stories subvert life as they would understand it. In actual fact they portray the very reality that has pervaded every nook and corner of life in the region. Perception of this reality lies in the inner eye of the beholder who has been taught to hone his/her sight to the intangibles beyond the self, greater than any individual self.
The overriding vision thus sets it apart as a story of many encounters; for Vilie the native, to be apprenticed further in the ways of the forest; for the reader from the region who identifies familiarly with innumerable encounters; for the perceptive reader from elsewhere, who encounters new levels of thought and reality and for the un-perceptive reader from everywhere whose encounter with the narrative is purely at the superficial and mechanistic level.
The dependence upon memory is very strong, but memory being what it is with its own redactions, also has a large role in shaping narratives and stories. What emerges from this scenario seem to be repetitive versions of the same stories much like an oral storehouse of narratives that tell the same story with a variety of renditions, twice, thrice or even four times over. Dramatists and poets from Meghalaya for instance, have scripted the story of U Sier Lapalang according to their own renditions. The suicide of Ka Likai is another story that has had different takes. The rationale of the oral exerts an influence stronger than time for there are presences and absences, resonances and dissonances within the written narratives that follow instructions from the oral. This does not in any way indicate a lack but rather holds the light up to an imagination that has derived its ethics and aesthetics from oral groundings. The ingrained habit of the telling and re-telling is a throwback to an imagination uninhibited by alien notions of selection and order. And if one were to compare the body of work from North-East India one would find a surprising number of thematic and structural parallels systemic to the imaginative framework of stories. When the River Sleeps has surprising links with the belief system of Kajinsha’s community in The Black Hill, which finds echoes in Nini Lungalang’s poems and short stories or even in the Mizo stories collected and edited by Margaret Zama in Contemporary Short Stories from Mizoram(2017).Further corroboration of these stories may be found in the lore of the Khasi and Jaiñtia communities. The landscape seems familiarly grounded upon the individual’s or community’s ability to negotiate existence through the intangibles of life in a concentration of energy and resource that perceives a universe that communicates only through the axiom of the spoken.
In her essay, “Writing Orality”, Temsula Ao explains the cardinal necessity of taking that one extra step to carry orality further on to the written medium, if it is to survive at all. Her poetry and other writings reconstruct the feats of warriors, the journey to the land of the dead or the story of the lost script amongst others. This has been a good alternative and a successful endeavour too for at all levels, the scripting and archiving and documentation has fast forwarded orality into a twenty-first century avatar. For indigenous writers from Australia and America, however, this is taking on complex dimensions involving the unevenness of the oral; whether its integrity can at all be retained within the physical frontier of the written. Where this will take writers from the region is an important question; but as of now, they are compulsively bent upon the act of “bearing witness” (Nongkynrih ix): scraping evidences from the past, breaking up the encrustations of fossilised time, following closely on the heels of an elder who is still in communion with the universe and generally capturing the un-captured in the written medium. The end result is this vast quantum of narratives and art-work, songs and chants, ballads and sayings that are cumulative representations of the indigenous imagination. These writers form the frontline of those who are seeking to bring in linkages from an interrupted past, interrupting themselves as it were to access ancient imaginings in a very conscious way. The outpouring of writings reflect well upon oral world-views of particular communities; but when all of them have put their tags upon this oral universe by attempting to connect to it, the resultant representation becomes graphic in its involvement with the spirit of the spoken word in all its broken but intimate manifestations.
I have chosen the book When the River Sleeps as being representative of this oral-aesthetic because the protagonist – to use an accepted western category – who is not really the protagonist because the forest is the actual protagonist, authenticates existence on a razor-edge of experiences that challenge his perception of what is appearance and what is reality. There are many climaxes in the book sustained by Vilie’s extraordinary capacity of foreseeing the immediate future which determines further missions. He dies in defence of the “heart-stone”, killed by evil in the form of the murderer who had also killed the Nepali couple at the beginning; who is in turn devoured by a “weretiger”. The narrative underplays the individual episode. Each episode, however, stands out as a veritable example of the many realities that Vilie encounters in the larger scheme. This is the reason why there are so many climaxes within the book as it follows the oral course of a story that comes from a world-view intimate with the intricacies of the land. By this I mean the overarching presence of other presences within it. Courage to face them can only be measured in terms of the confrontations that have been met. Seasonal time and cyclic time sets the chronometric measure for these stories coming from unknown villages from the region. Death is contained within a larger vision of life. Hence Vilie’s death, though tragic is part of the larger pattern that facilitates life for Ate who now has possession of the “heart-stone”. There are a surprising number of heroes and heroines who live together in a universe resonating with narratives comprising small nations with small narratives that connect to each other through their perception of similar connotative realities. This becomes difficult for the foreign born and city bred which is the reason why the old storyteller in Temsula Ao’s short story “Apenyo’s Song” in These Hills Called Home (2006) insists upon an initiation into the mystiques of the waiting and watching, and the listening:
Storyteller and audience strain to listen more attentively and suddenly a strange thing happens: as the wind whirls past the house, it increases in volume and for the briefest of moment seems to hover above the house. Then it resumes its whirling as though hurrying away to other regions beyond human habitation. The young people are stunned because they hear the new element in the volume and a certain uncanny lilt lingers on in the wake of its departure… ‘You heard it, didn’t you? Didn’t I tell you? It was Apenyo’s last song’… (32)
That night the tragic song rides the wind as it makes itself audible to all, more articulate than the teller herself who knows that she is a mere tool in the larger scheme of a speaking universe. The storyteller’s place is a hallowed one because of an unwarranted sense of mission. She is not any pedestrian performer but someone with the linguistic proficiency and perceptive power of the seer; a characterising feature of poetry from the region, lyrical, dramatic and profound as has been the lifeblood of generations of people embedded within the land.
The multiple worlds of Easterine Kire’s novel are not invented ones. They have come down from the earlier generations that have cut their teeth upon the edifices of orality. They bear the sense of an existence “that can’t be written off/ can’t be written over.”(Many Sides p32) for, orality will continue to have its say. The writer from the region who maintains affiliation to the oral, as opposed to the latter day writer who has found greener pastures in cityscapes, will need to grapple with the very identity of the oral as it still inheres within reality. Therefore, maintaining integrity to the oral as Easterine Kire has attempted to do must result in an aesthetics that signifies more than what is found within the printed pages of a book. This would in one way point to a kind of reader-response paradigm. The audience, in this case the reader, must be able to source out hidden signifiers from within the signified dynamic of the oral as represented within a written text. The onward flow of meaning can happen only in the intertwining of symbol and issue, landscape and inscape which are threaded together by a language that is nuanced by a deep sense of larger realities prevailing within the story. The end invariably lies in the beginning; in the acknowledged presence of a reader who maintains connection by sustained navigation through the narrative. Otherwise it will continue to remain only a fairy-tale.

Miles to See MASS MoCA and The Clark

MASS MoCA stands for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. It is located in an old town called North Adams in the north-western corner of the State of Massachusetts in the United States of America. My visit to MASS MoCA was clubbed with The Clark Institute – a paradise for art lovers – in Williamstown, an area adjacent to North Adams. An additional day, 29th February, of the year 2020 (which happens to be a leap year), gave us an opportunity to access the connotations of life imbued in the art objects placed in the two museums. We could immerse ourselves for the day in an ocean of creative thoughts.
Our team was comprised of five members, most of whom were academics. Starting from the town of Amherst, we meandered through the villages, towns, forests, and the hairpin turns on the hills (much like the roads of the outskirts of Shillong), for more than two hours, to reach MASS MoCA. It was as if the beauty of the snow-clad nature of the late winter was waiting to welcome us cordially to enjoy it throughout our journey. Perhaps, it even decreed the sun not to shine much on the snow and indicated the snow not to melt away quickly until we get to our destination. In the way, we stopped at a small and quiet town called Buckland.
The town of Bucklan
By tracing its history, we easily reached a time when, two hundred years ago, the British colonizers started a hub of manufacturing industries at North Adams, in the region which came to be known as New England in America. The information that can be found on the website says: ‘The 16 acres of grounds in North Adams, Massachusetts, encompass a vast complex of 19th-century mill buildings and occupy nearly one-third of the city’s downtown business district.’ Its journey from the mills to a museum is not only a part of the eventualities of history, but also is indicative of the economic, industrial and architectural changes that remained as factors of paramount influence. The trend towards a globalized world contributed to the shift of capital investments from America and Europe to Asia, more specifically to China, Japan and South Korea, mainly to avail cheap labour and raw materials, for setting up new manufacturing units.
Galleries in MASS MoCA
Major contemporary artists have created their art works using various forms and materials. Colourful designs with glass, murals or frescos and graffities on the walls are remarkably attractive.
Linear graffities on the wall
A large sculpture of a human figure surrounded by a thousand small things
The act of measuring the eternal values hidden in the immortal objects of art often proves to be baffling, as the element of time drives man to discover vistas where he can fulfil his unquenchable desire of gaining as much meaning as possible in life. Spending only two-and-a-half hours at MASS MoCA can seldom justify the merit of the treasures it is endowed with. Still, a special reference, as this less-educated onlooker feels, must be made to the works of Louise Bourgeois who ‘was intrigued by the subconscious, and her work is often understood as an expression of repressed feelings’.
‘PASS’, ‘Nature Study’ ‘The Couple’ and ‘Untitled’ sculptures are her available creations that unfailingly engage the viewer’s imagination.

The Clark Institute, in short, The Clark, is another museum situated in a nearby place called Williamstown, as I’ve mentioned above. Today, under the aegis of Williams College, the museum is jointly administered by The Clark and the College, and offers one of the world’s most respected graduate programmes in the history of art. It was developed by Sterling Clark and his wife Francine Clark. Sterling Clark had a distinguished career in the U.S. Army and was also an heir to the Singer sewing-machine fortune. Francine Clark was an actress of repute
in Comédie-Française in Paris. ‘The two shared a passion for art and quietly began building a remarkable collection of paintings, sculpture, silver, porcelain, drawings, and prints.’ With their private collections of the pieces of art, that they collected over forty years, The Clark Institute offers an ensemble of the works of some major European and American masters. But, even before entering the gate of The Clark, we were humbled by some of the inscriptions on it and the picturesqueness of the Institute’s surroundings.
‘Am I ready to get in to have a inside’, I asked myself, ‘or shall I remain outside forever to be enamoured by nature?’ I was completely in a fix. However, it is perhaps the rational mind that always wins. I tried my best to appear like other so-called ‘smart guys’ to hide my awe and entered the precincts of a treasured island, slowly.
Impressionism flourished during the later half of the

nineteenth century. Like many other styles of painting, it has germinated from the avant-garde and the norm-breaking spirit of the French artists. Leading among them were Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. In most of their works, the artists have depicted nature not as it is but ‘as is seen’ by them. The emphasis on the ‘accurate depiction of light’, ‘relatively small, thin yet visible brush strokes’, ‘ordinary subject matter’, and ‘the effects of the passage of time’ are
‘Green Landscape’, 1886, oil on canvas by George Inness
some of the characteristic features of Impressionism. In America, George Inness, a follower of the Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, believed that the spirit of God was present throughout the natural world. Inness’s nature paintings display an array of impastos of impressionistic style. In The Clark Institute, Inness’s paintings are exhibited in a considerable portion of the galleries, along with the masterpieces of Monet, Renoir, John Constable, Vincent Van Gogh and several other impressionistic painters. A self-portrait of Pierre- Auguste Renoir drew my attention for some reasons unknown. I took a long time to observe the creation of the artist’s own bodied self.
Here I also found Monet’s Cliff at Étretat and Rodin’s famous sculpture The Thinker.
‘How was your trip?’ An aged professor in our team asked me when we all came out in the afternoon.
He is an American but he is acquainted with India and its culture for he has been visiting the country for the last thirty years. It was basically his plan to show us something memorable in his country before we go back to India. In my reply I asked him, ‘Do all visitors to the US come to see this place?’
He gave a silent smile.
I said, ‘It should be made mandatory’. Indeed, I believe, no institution in the world can offer a better form of education or, in other words, an aesthetic education, to humanity than such places of excellence as these art museums that I had the opportunity to have an experience of. Before bidding adieu, I looked up to see the place once more. The sun god had initiated his routine proclamation of the end of the day. We set out on our journey back to the town of Amherst.

The Quintessence of Soulful Music

The glory of classical music has soared to the pinnacle of the creative arts, with the timeless amalgamation of age, melody, and harmony, echoing through the scintillating voices of several exponents in the vast expanse of the global sphere of fine music. Recently, people mourned the demise of an outstanding Indian classical musician, Pandit Jasraj, who passed away on 17th August, 2020. His voice will live in the memory of the succeeding generations. The people of Meghalaya were exalted when they witnessed him perform in Shillong a few years ago. The indelible expressions of his spectacular performance enthralled the souls of all artists and music lovers who came that day to witness an epitome of the Hindustani classical tradition.Incidentally, a local Khasi-folk legend, Kerios Wahlang, was invited on the same occasion when Pandit Jasraj came to create an eternal realm of blissfulness and divinity. As a witness, it brought back my memory of their meeting in the city of Shillong. The Asian Confluence and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) had entrusted on me the responsibility of arranging a solo programme of the old man, Kerios Wahlang, before the beginning of the classical recital of Pandit Jasraj. Primarily, Kerios Wahlang did not take the assurance of a token fee into consideration as he was more enthusiastic about his performance. He even refused the organizers’ offer of conveyance but promptly arrived at the venue by a local taxi from his village at Mawngap.
Meanwhile, all the security and stage gear arrangements for Pandit Jasraj’s performance were put in place under the supervision of a prominent media person and veteran newsreader from New Delhi. As I escorted Kerios Wahlang to the stage, we discovered that his performance was not properly arranged for and he was asked to sit on the floor at a corner of the stage. I immediately disagreed. His grandson and music accompanist was also hesitant, when the old man intervened and said softly, “It’s alright. I can sing and it is fine for us.”
I was too embarrassed and felt humiliated with the expert’s shocking professional attitude from the so-called section of mainland India towards a local folk artiste. They were, nevertheless, committed to their expert arrangement of the sound-system. They argued that the plan for the stage gear for Pandit Jasraj is never disrupted anywhere in the world. I resigned and went back to the auditorium. When the old man, Kerios Wahlang, was about to begin his performance from a remote corner of the stage, none other than the occasion’s highest dignitary rose in disapproval. Kerios Wahlang and his musical accompanist were requested to rise to the podium earmarked for the performance of Pandit Jasraj, at the behest of the maestro himself.
Kerios Wahlang acknowledged that his performance on that day was the best in his lifetime. It was a proud moment for Kerios Wahlang that the world-renowned Indian classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj applauded, with sincerity, as he stood up followed by a standing ovation from the audience, for a few minutes, including the technicians. Meanwhile, Kerios Wahlang descended from the stage and bowed to pay homage to Pandit Jasraj, and, the maestro lifted him up. Both exchanged glimpses of heartfelt tribute that they paid to each other.
Now was the turn of Kerios Wahlang to sit in the audience and witness the performance of Pandit Jasraj. The chief of the Asian Confluence, Sabyasashchi Dutta, gave me and my colleague, Benedict Hynñiewta, the privilege of painting on canvas while the maestro performed. Before the much-awaited show began, Pandit Jasraj gestured a namaste to the audience, while there was an evident eye contact between him and Kerios Wahlang. Adjacent to the stage, we were performing a jugalbandi of painting on canvas. When I just happened to look back at the audience, I saw tears rolling down the cheeks of the old man, Kerios Wallang, which he wiped with his handkerchief. I was extremely touched and tried to spontaneously translate the candid moment, on canvas, with my brush strokes. However, the old man was tired and had to return to his village, and, so, he could not stay back for the maestro’s entire performance. I took a brief moment, as I saw him off. When I went to hand over the envelop given by Mr. N. Munish Singh, the Regional Director, ICCR, he refused and instead thanked everybody for the opportunity given to him.
Nevertheless, I persuaded him to accept the envelop as a token of gratitude and appreciation to which he embraced me. The cab, thereafter, that he travelled by drove away as if to infinity. As I resumed the Jugalbandi with Benedict, we were overwhelmed by the performance of Pandit Jasraj when the flexibility of his voice, in rhythm with the music, transcended our minds giving solace to our hearts. It led me to reminisce the emotional encounter that I had with the legendary Kerios Wahlang. Both Pandit Jasraj and Kerios Wahlang are an epitome of sheer simplicity and beauty of character. This narrative is a humble tribute to the colossal stature of a global celebrity, Pandit Jasraj, and to a home-grown genius, Kerios Wahlang.

Margaret Pohrmen:The Trailblazer of Khasi Modern Music

The chaos and commotion of social life in Shillong and the frequent political turmoil around the years 1980 onwards have more reasons to cherish the patriotic songs as the genre of ethnic enthusiasm and passion. Those were the days when melody is the source of solace for the society in the midst of the regular social disorder that prevailed, particularly in the Shillong city. Among all creative pursuits, music has the power of motivation for excitement. This is the vocal force of the Pohrmen Sisters, Margaret and Mary that have overwhelmed the entire Khasi land with their mellow voices to discover the essence of modern Khasi music. Both Margaret and Mary Pohrmen were part of the Jingkieng Ksiar music album, led by renowned music exponent Rana Kharkongor, for the first ever Khasi music album in 1982. They were the only female vocalists of the group, which included the veterans like Heading Son Ryntathiang, Tom Taylor Mukhim, Amio Lyngskor and Snarwell Syiemlieh, the younger brother of another folk music legend, Skendrowell Syiemlieh.
Rana Kharkongor is considered as the pioneer of Khasi modern music declared that the Pohrmen sisters, Margaret and Mary were the ideal choice for female Khasi voice of that era to record in the popular Khasi modern music album for public distribution ‘Ka Jingkieng Ksiar’. ‘Their scintillating voices have captured the sentiment of the youth through the ages’, Kharkongor opined.
One of the finest Khasi musicians and a folk thinker, Phyrnai Marbañiang opined that the popularity and versatile performances of the Pohrmen Sisters have facilitated the emergence of modern Khasi music that has evolved through western fusion and other innovative pop music techniques. This was endorsed by few eminent local artistes of western music. On the one hand Lou Majaw termed fusion music as the noise of confusion, while Rudy Wallang acknowledged the tremendous influence and attraction of Khasi modern music at every occasion of local entertainment through the duet performance of Margaret and Mary Pohrmen. Along with few other versatile artistes of the era, they have set the benchmark of modern Khasi music genre, that has developed in to the tradition.
Margaret Pohrmen was born on 29th March, 1962, the middle sibling among three daughters; Elizabeth the eldest sister and her musical companion, Mary the youngest sister. Their parents, Mr Everest Jitem and Mrs Lawrencia Pohrmen have always been the source of inspiration and encouragement for their passion in music. Mary Pohrmen stated that her father was in constant support for every musical assignment and their debut performance took place in 1980 at Don Bosco Hall, Laitumkhrah. Their proficiency and enthusiasm in the field of music was further endorsed with a commendable gradation at the All India Radio on 22nd November, 1982 and the production of the super hit audio album ‘Namar Jongphi’ in 1986 composed by Mr. Ores Thangkhiew. Thereafter, Margaret joined Air India service in 1989 and the legacy is being continued by her youngest sister Mary Pohrmen, when she subsequently produced a solo album of her own lyrical composition ‘Jingkynmaw’ in 1987. It was a short journey of the music career for Margaret Pohrmen, but it had created incredible impact as some of the numbers from the album still echoed in certain households even today in Shillong opined some of the ardent fans of Khasi modern music. Shillong being the haven of Western music and the duo is equally adept with English music, and Rudy Wallang stated that the Pohrmen Sisters dominated the prestigious entertainment functions for nearly a decade. They used to be the guest singers for few reputed pop bands of that time and they were popularly known in the region as the ABBA of Shillong.
After almost three decade of service, Margaret desired to take care of her ailing mother, but destiny proven otherwise as she breathed her last on 2nd August, 2020; leaving several fans in shock and despair. She will be remembered in the annals of Khasi music archives.

Sngi:A Mystic of Enlightenment

Raphael Warjri

I heard of him several times from my father before, but that was the first time when I got to see and hear from him directly. He was there for a talk on Khasi Literature for a documentary film that was made for Doordarshan. His words were so warm that I slowly started to take a keen interest in knowing about him. I studied the books, he wrote and translated, and his journey to the West. What captivated me more was his will-power. Belonging to a small village in Ri-Bhoi district, he travelled across the world, learning new languages and treading unknown paths.
When Autumn came to an end and the January cold was to settle, Rev. Sylvanus Sngi Lyndoh, a man of excellence, was born to light the night’s sky. He was the eldest son of the fifteen children of Ka Mon Lyndoh Thaïang and U Michael Ram Sten, from the Thaïang village of Meghalaya.
The year 1907 came as a thorn in a bed of roses. People suffered from malaria and leprosy. Being anxious of the heart-wrenching situation, the great-grandmother of Rev. Sylvanus Sngi Lyndoh, Tyngab Lyngdohsad, suggested one of her sons, Ajir Lyngdoh Thaïang, along with nine other men from the village to seek help from the town. The journey to Shillong was not an easy task. Vehicles were not readily available and, as a result, they had to walk down nearly a hundred kilometres to reach Shillong. They met Monseigneur Christopher Becker from whom they borrowed some money and who they promised to repay. The kind-hearted priest agreed to their request and, that is how, they helped the village folks recover with that money. On certain occasions, Monseigneur Christopher Becker also visited the village.In 1911, during Easter, Monseigneur baptized some of the village folks, including the grand-uncle/father of Rev. S. S. Lyngdoh. He was rechristened as Ajir Thomas Lyngdoh. Seeing the priest’s passionate love for the poor village men, the great-grandmother of Rev. S. S. Lyngdoh, Tyngab, who was a high priestess of the Thaïang traditional province, donated a vast land at Pamkdait for charity and missionary work.
A significant event took place during World War I. The Salvatorian deported in 1921, and Jesuit Congregation had taken over the missionary work. The congregation of Salesian of Don Bosco arrived in the Khasi Hills on 13th January, 1922.
The family of Rev. S.S. Lyngdoh soon shifted from Thaïang to Umtyrkhang. The village was situated near a sacred Grove, and many ceremonies were performed there. On one such occasion, he came in contact with an old priest, and the priest swayed the lad’s heart. Rev. S.S Lyngdoh and some other village men were baptized by the old priest, Rev. Constantine Vendrame. Rev. S.S. Lyngdoh was a very passionate and intelligent boy. He travelled on foot to Shillong to enrol himself at the Don Bosco Institute as an artisan of the printing press. Simultaneously, he started to study at St. Anthony’s School in Shillong. To pursue a higher education in Philosophy and Theology, he was required to learn Latin, and he soon mastered the language.
In 1942, he studied at the Salesian High School, Sonada, Darjeeling, and subsequently at the Sacred Heart College, Mawlai, Shillong, in 1947, for his novitiate. In 1954, deacon Sylvanus Sngi Lyngdoh was sent to Europe for further studies. He started his voyage to the West to explore, learn, and carry back with him a part of it.
His voyage to Europe was a little difficult as he fell sick on the way. He took no notice of these petty situations and dedicated his life to studying Theology. His hard work paid him good results as he topped not only his class but the whole of Europe. He officially took priesthood on 1st July, 1958, at the Church of Mary Help of Christian, Turin in Italy, built by Don Bosco himself. Soon after the ordination ceremony, he and seven other deserving students were selected to study further in Rome. Thus, a new vista of opportunity was waiting at his doorstep. He initially had been entrusted with studying Canon Law, but his interest lay somewhere else. He opted to study Biblical Studies at Biblicum, the Biblical Institute.
He took great interest in learning languages as well. He could speak nearly thirty languages. Like his mother tongue, he paid equal attention to each language which he spoke with perfection. As a part of his missionary work, he visited Venice, Yugoslavia, Greece, Istanbul, Turkey, Lebanon, Damascus, Syria, Palestine, and Jerusalem in 1961. He was chosen to study Hebrew and completed the course within five months, along with five other scholars. He extended his journey to many different places and, finally, he returned to Bombay after a long time.
He was a devoted son and, on reaching India, he traced his route back to his village Mawbri, where his mother was. Both were delighted to see each other after 20 years. He wanted to give back to the soil he was born on. He plunged into social activities in Smit, Nonglyput, Khliehriat, Ladrymbai, Laitkynsew, Mawlong, Ichamati, Tyllap, Diengrai, Saikarap, Nongriat, Umwai, Thieddieng, Nongsteng, Shella, Nongtrai, Kynshluit, Lyngkhom, Mynteng, and several other villages across the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, including Ri-Bhoi. Apart from social activities, there were instances when others experienced strange and unbelievable incidents in his presence. He was believed to be blessed and had a very positive vibe. He even performed exorcism and spiritual healing on local people. He conducted a cross-cultural matrimony commonly known as ‘Tangjait’ in Khasi. He introduced a collective term, ‘Hynñiewtrep Hynñiewskum’, to represent Meghalaya’s indigenous communities, in which the Garos were not included. During 1978, however, when there was a political crisis, he led from the forefront to unify three parties to form a coalition government.
He worked for the betterment of the people. His knowledge in Hebrew and Greek enabled him to write a dictionary that was translated to Khasi. Another remarkable incident of his life took place, in 1975, when he was strolling near a temple in Jerusalem. A group of tourists had come to visit the area and, on their way, they came across Rev. S.S Lyngdoh. While talking to them, he told them about his motive and his native place. He confided in them his grievances and told them about his financial constraints that stopped him from publishing his translated dictionaries. They heard him all and bade him farewell without any commitment. Within two weeks, he received a letter from one of the women tourists, Sue Ann Bentz Altman, and, to his utter amazement, he found a cheque of six thousand dollars, which was precisely his estimated amount. Rev. Sylvanus Sngi Lyngdoh published the Hebrew-Khasi, Aramaic-Khasi, and Greek-Khasi dictionaries within a short period of time and dedicated this success to the generous lady who donated the money. His research and accomplishments saw a new dawn. Three thousand copies of his books were shipped to Shillong.
He authored 28 books in his life, mostly on Biblical commentaries, Khasi philosophy, and Khasi folk tales. He was one of the pillars of the Khasi Department’s foundation in the North-Eastern Hill University in Shillong in 1978. He was a member in selecting the faculty members of the Department.
He never let time go. Whenever he would sit for talks, he would continue for hours. Every listener would be engrossed by his words. His love for the Khasi culture knew no bounds. He published a Khasi newspaper, called ‘Ka Sur Shipara’, from 1976 to 1990, which contained both secular and religious information. When Pope John Paul II visited Shillong, Rev. S. S Lyngdoh was a part of the delegation. He adorned himself with the Khasi traditional turban and committed to keeping its respect and heritage until his last breath.
He lived his life as an exponent on cultural, political, and social growth, environment conservation, educational progress, the well-being of humanity, economic prosperity, and commanded the trust and confidence of the authority with sheer humility and clarity of thought. Rev. Sylvanus Sngi Lyngdoh never remained inactive for a moment of his mortal being until five-past-ten, in the morning of 28th May, 2016, when he took his last breath. He was a legendary icon who will live in our hearts and dwell in people’s minds across the globe as an inspiration.
Lyngdoh, Sylvanus Sngi, Kharkrang, Roland, Ka Jingim bad Jinghikai jong U