Kongthong: The singing village of Meghalaya

Shillong (Meghalaya) [India], Sept. 25 (ANI): If you ever get a chance to visit Kongthongvillage in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya, then do not get confused by various unique tunes with birdsong. These unique melodious tunes, a hum to communicate or call out each other instead of actual names, are devised by mothers for their children. The custom of calling each other by specific tune is part of "Jingrwai lawbei", the song of the first lady of the tribe, an age-old tradition of this community. Origin of this tradition is not known to many. The tradition is followed in some other nearby villages as well. In addition to specific tunes, people of the village have their real names also but they are rarely used. The arrival of television and Bollywood songs has also inspired some of the villagers to compose musical names for their loved ones. This exclusive way of calling each other by using tunes make Kongthong village, majorly inhabited by Khasi people, different from other villages not in the state but also in the country. Majority of houses in this village are made of wood with a tin roof. "The specific tune comes out from the core of the heart of every mother," Pyndaplin Shabong, mother of three, told ANI. "The tune compiled by a mother, may sound peculiar to others, but it actually expresses happiness and love for the child," added Shabong. Interestingly, Rothell Khongsit, a community leader from the same village, uses the real name of his son in case of wrongdoing by him. The remote village of Kongthong was lacking basic infrastructure such as power and road connectivity for a long time. Electricity arrived here in the year 2000 while the village got its first dirt road just five years ago back, in 2013. Majority of the people of the village are dependent on bamboo for their livelihood. Villagers feel close to nature as Kongthong village is surrounded by dense forest and hills. A similar tradition is also followed in some areas of Turkey, Sweden and Norway. Bird language is used in Giresun province in Turkey.
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