Shillong, Nov 23 (UNI) Hundreds of indigenous Khasi people took to the streets in Shillong today proclaiming the dignity and solemnity of the Khasi faith and culture to mark the annual Seng Kut Snem festival.
The people dressed in colourful costumes danced and sung traditional songs and brought out tableaux depicting various facets of the simple yet rich and colourful life-style. The procession culminated at the Weiking ground where special prayers were offered.
The Seng Kut Snem festival is celebrated to commemorate the Seng Khasi Movement to preserve, protect and uphold indigenous Khasi religion and culture. This year the festivities marked the 108th anniversary of the Seng Khasi Movement.
It was on August 23, 1899 that 16 Khasi youths formed the Seng Khasi to protect their religion, culture and language in the face of British onslaught.
''On April 4,1829, U Tirot Sing Syiem, the king of Nongkhlaw took on the might of the aliens by leading an attack on the British Garrison at Nongkhlaw and inflicting major casualties'', said Sumar Sing Sawain, an elderly member of the Seng Khasi.
''It was a day of renaissance and uprising to save the community from disappearing into oblivion,'' he said.
This marked the beginning of a bitter four-year long conflict between the uncompromising Khasi soldiers under the leadership of Tirot Sing and the British culminating in Tirot Sing's martyrdom at then Dacca.
''The second uprising in Ri Hynniewtrep (Khasi nation) began from December 28, 1861 under the leadership of the legendary U Kiang Nongbah of the Jaintia Hills who waged a war with the British after the aliens desecrated an indigenous Khasi religious ceremony at Ialong.
The third historical movement of the people of Ri Hynniewtrep against suppression of their age-old faith and culture begun from April 23, 1899 through the organisation of the Seng Khasi which is the torch bearer of the Khasi religion -'Niamtre' and the traditional culture.
Besides upholding the Khasi religion of Niamtre, the Seng Khasi has also been working towards streghtening the traditional indigenous administrative systems involving the Syiems, Lyngdohs and Dollois and upholding the Khasi customary usages.