Resonance Music

Wind of music from Khasi hills

Tangmuri, an instrument popular in Meghalaya  

It was in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, which is popularly referred as the Scotland of the East, we discovered Tangmuri, a prominent musical instrument, part of traditional cultural programmes and festivals. Shillong, picturesque with its mountain peaks and water falls, incidentally, is also known as one of the music capitals of India with events taking place throughout the year. During our visit, we had the opportunity to witness some of them.

Tangmuri is referred to as the queen of instruments and is widely performed in Meghalaya. Consisting of a tube with seven holes, Tangmuri is associated with the religious dance called Ka Shad Nong Krem, chiefly among the Khasis of Jaintia hills and the neighbouring areas and also part of traditional rituals. Majority tribes of Meghalaya are the Khasis and the Niam Khasi is an indigenous religion.

The instrument consists of a 15 cm long conical-bore (also called the wooden bell), a mouth piece and a wooden tube, which is about 20 cm long, with seven finger holes. The conical bore is attached to the wooden tube by a push-fit. A grass reed, narrow at one end and broad at the other end, is inserted into the mouth piece. The narrow end of the reed is then inserted inside a slender metal staple which is then attached to the main wooden tube. Tangmuri produces high-pitch tone when played.

Ka Shad Nong Krem also referred to as Ka Pomblang Ongkrem is the most important festival of the Khasis. This elaborate and vibrant festival is celebrated for about five days in a year. Basically a thanksgiving celebration for the Goddess Ka Blei Synshar, this festival is celebrated every year at Smit, the capital of the Khyrem Syiemship near Shillong. Tangmuri is an important instrument performed during this festival of thanksgiving.

Goddess Ka Blei Synshar is considered powerful and the locals thank the goddess for the prosperity and plentiful harvest.

The Khasis celebrate the festival with traditional music and dance.

Another important part of the ritual is the consecration ceremony of the Tangmuri.

Dressed in the traditional attire, the Khasi tribes perform the famed Ka Shad Nong Krem dance after all the rituals.

There is an opening dance known as the royal dance that is usually performed by the Syiem before the actual dance. The administrative head of the Hima/Khasi State are referred as the Syiem by the people.

For the Nongkrem dance, young men and women dance to the tune of Tangmuri along with drums and cymbals.

This festival concludes on the fifth day with the Syiem offering a thanksgiving prayer to the Creator.

The writers are well-known Carnatic musicians

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 12:44:55 PM |

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