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Sacred forest

September 17, 2018
contest: CHANGE in Wood Culture - Heritage
$ 4800
Sacred forest /media/flashcomm?action=mediaview&context=normal&id=42809
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Samsul Huda Patgiri Male

I stood at the edge of a forest in the village of Mawph­lang in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya state of India. This was no ordinary forest, you see, but home to a protective deity called U Ryn­gkew U Basa, revered by the Chief and Elders of the village to protect it from all harm. If anyone enters with bad intentions, they face dire consequences.
A sacred grove or Law Kyntang, this forest has stood for thousands of years and one of the reasons the forest still survives is because cutting down any tree or branch here is a taboo. Nature holds much significance in traditional Khasi culture and the spirit of conservation is deeply embed¬ded in the people through a complex social matrix of religious beliefs. According to a Khasi saying, a village (hima) has no identity without its own sacred grove.
The small kingdom of Mawphlang is noted also in British Colonial records as early as the 1820s. The 18 villages that comprise Mawphlang Lyngdohship are linked through their clan ties within the Khasi cultural community and share a common history in the area that probably dates back at least to the 15th century. The Sacred Forest has been protected since the settlement of the area hundreds of year ago. It is also a sacred cultural location with large stone monoliths around which rituals are performed. Strict community rules ensure that no human interference is allowed within the Sacred Grove, banning any cutting, collection, fires or settlement.

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