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A tradition of the Pnar tribe, Behdienkhlam festival talks of the spirit of Meghalaya. Celebrated for three days every year, the festival is a customary celebration among the natives of Jowai- a scenic little plateau surrounded by the Jaintia hills. When translated literally, Behdienkhlam means driving evil spirits. A Hindu festival, Behdienkhlam is celebrated by the Pnar people, the followers of the Niamtre tradition. 

Religious Folklore and History of Behdienkhlam Festival

The Land of no Man

The myth surrounding this festival leads to an interesting story. The people believe all of Jowai was once devoid of the human population. The only inhabitants of the area were five deities, four stones, and a river maiden. The five requested god to convert the lonely forest into a thriving human dwelling. Their prayer was heard and the eldest of the deity-U Mokhai is said to have rejoiced with dance and song.

The Curse of the Horrific Plague

One of the more popular stories about the festival is that of the plague curse. There was a mythical prophecy that claimed Jowai would be struck by a fierce plague. The scare spread among the natives and they rushed to their revered deities-U Mukhai, Mulong, Mooralong, and Musniang. The deities advised them to worship the divine elements to fight the natural calamities. Behdienkhlam is an extension of this belief which suggests health epidemics are an effect of the evil forces. 

Major Attractions at Behdienkhlam Festival, Meghalaya

A Celebration of the Harvest

The festival is essentially celebrated by farmers. It is said to be a significant way to pray for a bountiful harvest in the season. The locals suggest Behdienkhlam has a regional significance too. And the elders say the meaning of the festival lies in its name-’Beh dien’ to make something go away by beating sticks and ‘khlam’ means fatal epidemic. As a customary tradition people gather around and climb on top of their houses to beat the roofs with sticks.  

Also Read: The birth anniversary of the 4th Sikh Guru and the founder of Amritsar City

Changing Times

In recent years, the people of Jowai have become aware of the need to safeguard the environment. They have extended a new purpose to the festival and have started awareness campaigns to educate people about the safety of the environment. 

The cultural ecstacy of the Jowai people echoes through a colorful celebration. People carry colorful bamboo structures called ‘Rots’ or raths and gather at the celebration site. These rots carry different social messages and it has made the festival more of an honest effort to fight social evils today.

Source: Dhiraj Singh

How to Reach

Jowai can be a little tough to reach majorly due to its geographical remoteness. Although, it is connected very well with Shillong and Guwahati. It is situated at a distance of 2,063, 3,114, 1,168, 2,890 km from Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Mumbai respectively. Here is how you can reach here by the following means of transportation.  

By Air. Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport (GAU) and Shillong Airport (SHL) are the two best options to reach here. 

The Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport is located at a distance of around 180-200 km from Jowai. Formerly known as the Borjhar Airport, it is considered as the primary airport of North-Eastern Indian states. It is considered as the 8th busiest airport in India. During the year 2017, this airport handled traffic of more than 3.7 million passengers. 

Many flights operate to and fro this airport connecting various Indian cities. Here is how you can reach here by the following routes.

Coming on to the Shillong Airport (SHL), it is situated at a distance of 70-80 km from Jowai. As it is situated in Umroi, it also goes by the name of Umroi Airport. 

  • Delhi - Board SpiceJet, Go Air, IndiGo flights from Indira Gandhi International Airport. The airfares start from Rs.2,000-Rs.3,000
  • Dimapur - Board Air India and IndiGo flights from Dimapur Airport. The airfares start from Rs.1,000-Rs.1,500
  • Patna - Board IndiGo, SpiceJet, Go Air flights from Patna Airport. The airfares start from Rs.2,500-Rs.3,000
  • Lucknow - Board IndiGo, Go Air, Air India flights from Lucknow Airport. The airfares start from Rs.3,000 
  • Jodhpur - Board SpiceJet, IndiGo, Vistara flights from Jodhpur Airport. The airfares start from Rs.8,000
  • Jaipur - Board Air India, SpiceJet, IndiGo flights from Jaipur Airport. The airfares start from Rs.6,000

By Train. The nearest railway station is in Guwahati. It is situated at a distance of 160 km from Jowai. And after you deboard at the station, it will take you around 3-4 hour time to reach here. This railway station is the first fully operated railway station in India. It is located in the Paltan Baazar Railway Station of Guwahati and this is also the area from where most of the private bus companies operate. Here is how you can reach here.

  • Delhi - Board DBRT Rajdhani from New Delhi Railway Station and deboard at the Guwahati Junction
  • Patna - Board DBRT Rajdhani from Danapur Railway Station and deboard at the Guwahati Junction
  • Kolkata - Board GHY Gharib Rath from Kolkata and deboard at the Guwahati Station

By Road. Depending upon your location, you can also plan to travel to Jowai by road as well. For this, you can either travel by your own vehicle, cab or from bus as well.

Here is the route you can take to reach here.

  • Guwahati - 161 km via NH6 or Shillong Bypass Road
  • Siliguri - 606 km via NH27 or NH17
  • Darjeeling - 634 km via NH27 or NH17
  • Imphal - 405 km via NH37 or NH6
  • Silchar - 161 km via NH6

You can plan your trip and create your own route to the city with Adotrip’s technically driven circuit planner. Click here

  • 4 Days

  • Religious

  • Meghalaya
  • Festival Date

    08 July 2020 - 11 July 2020

  • Venue


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