Kongthong, a serene and peaceful village dwelling in the remote Khasi Hills in the Indian state of Meghalaya is unique for quite a reason. Imagine your name not being a word, but a tune or a whistle. Here, the caller hums a tune, which is a unique “name” that can only be understood by the villagers. This remarkable method of communication makes this isolated village renowned in the world.
How did the whistling come up in Konthong Village ?
The Kongthong village is cut off and is isolated from the mainland, as it lies in the Eastern Khasi Hills in Meghalaya. The village is not connected with a proper roadway and can only be reached by trekking for upto 10 km. This isolated geography has led to an amazing system of singing and whistling for calling out names of people belonging to the village.
Call-out By Whistling
It is more of a matriarchal practice. The mother makes her babies used to this musical way to commute by humming specific tunes. When the babies grow up, this specific tune or “jingrawai lawbei” (lullaby) comes up to be their peculiar name. Though everyone in the village does have a usual name, they are called by the peculiar whistling sound by the mothers all the time. Hence, the kids respond spontaneously. The call-out varies from kid to kid. So, in a family, every child would be called out in a different tune.
The Whistling Tradition
There are nearly 500 people living in the little hamlet of Kongthong and follow the traditional religion of Seng Khasi. The people here are shy and do not like mixing up with the outside world. They cultivate a few crops and walk down for long trips to sell their crops in the markets. While on their way back, they buy all essential commodities that are required by the whole village for an entire week.
Different Stages to Sing
There are two commonly known stages in which the whistling and singing out names is established for an individual. First stage begins as a baby and remains a traditional way to communicate within the family.
The second stage is generally used by grown up men in the village who create different songs and hums to call out men and women.The songs are also used by young boys to express feelings.
Uniqueness Throughout the World
The astonishing tradition of calling out names and communicating through hums and whistles has attracted a lot of scholars from foreign lands to the village. Many people from Germany, America and Japan come here to understand the code of communication to a deeper extent.
Many Khasi folktales are narrated about how a man when struggling with some goons climbed on a tree. He whistled the names of his friends to come and rescue him, without letting the goons have the slightest idea.
To Sum It Up
The spectacular practice of using musical tunes and whistles as names reflect the rich culture of the forefathers of the Kongthong village. The tradition was tough enough to stand harsh times and stays alive in the peaceful village of Kongthong.
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