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A New Khasi Clan In Meghalaya, India

In March 2008 we were in Shillong, Meghalaya. We were lucky, because our guide James had learned from a friend that there would be a ceremony of creating a new Khasi clan.

The Khasi people have a matrilineal culture. The youngest daughter always inherits the ancestral property, and as they are organized in clans, the children will always remain in their motherīs clan. Many Khasis have converted to Christianity and have given up their traditional culture. But we met a family that had preserved their culture and traditional religion. In this case they had a problem, because the mother was a Nepali and therefore did not belong to a clan. And of course the children could not become members of their fatherīs clan. To solve this dilemma it was necessary to create a new clan. So a priest was invited to perform the rites. Father and mother had written down 12 names that could possibly be the name of the new clan, their first choice (a combination of parts of their original names) in the first place.
With long prayers and an egg oracle the priest asked the supreme God U Blei Nongthaw, if the proposed name was accepted by Him. In the end the priest smashed the egg and read from the shells that already the first name was agreed to. With more prayers and rituals, to which always an egg, rice wine and rice flour belonged, each family member was separately taken up in this new clan. After the girl had become a new member of the clan, she got a small basket with a knife, symbols of a woman, and the boy received a bow and arrows, symbols of a man. During the rituals the priest poured rice wine over some rice flour. The paste that resulted from that was rubbed on one finger, first of the daughter, then of the father, the mother and finally the son. The father had to eat some rice flour and drink some rice wine for himself and for his children. Laughing, he remarked that he was lucky that he did not have ten children, because then he would leave the ceremony completely drunk.


You can find an in-depth coverage of our tour in German at: http://www.neuenhofer.de/guenter/.
On the way to the ceremonial ground
On the way to the ceremonial ground
Musicians accompanying the family
Musicians accompanying the family
Musician
Musician
Also a big drum is played
Also a big drum is played
Ladies also play instruments
Ladies also play instruments
The daughter, on the right, for who the new clan is initiated
The daughter, on the right, for who the new clan is initiated
The daughter and her cousin
The daughter and her cousin
The paraphanalia of the ritual
The paraphanalia of the ritual
The priest who performs the rites
The priest who performs the rites
Rice wine and eggs for the ceremony
Rice wine and eggs for the ceremony
Will the God accept the new name?
Will the God accept the new name?
The reading of the oracle
The reading of the oracle
New rice wine for each part of the ceremony
New rice wine for each part of the ceremony
Rice wine and rice flour are needed
Rice wine and rice flour are needed
Prayers accompany the ritual
Prayers accompany the ritual
Rice wine is poured over the rice flour
Rice wine is poured over the rice flour
Rice wine and rice flour
Rice wine and rice flour
The egg is part of the oracle
The egg is part of the oracle
The father eats and drinks for the family
The father eats and drinks for the family
The daughter receives attributes of a woman
The daughter receives attributes of a woman
The son with rice flour on his finger
The son with rice flour on his finger
The son with attributes of a man
The son with attributes of a man
Elderly family members
Elderly family members
Mother of the new clan and elderly family members
Mother of the new clan and elderly family members
Young family member
Young family member
An interested watcher of the ceremony
An interested watcher of the ceremony