The Sacred Groves of Meghalaya
Nestled in the lap of the East Khasi hills in the North Eastern state of Meghalaya lies a 1000-years old sacred grove. This grove is located near the Mawphlang village, 25 km from Shillong.
As soon as we reached the village, we could not help but just stand and breathe in the pure and unadulterated cold air, which was flavoured with the damp smell of humus and ferns. We approached a young Khasi boy to take us to the grove who seemed more than excited and proud to show us his rich heritage.
The forest which is spread over an area of 100 sq. km was dotted by wild hedges. As soon as we entered the forest, the thick foliage turned a few shades greener and the intoxicating smell of the flora filled our nostrils. As we ventured deep into the forest, the boy pointed at various trees and told us how it could treat cancer and asthma.
He narrated to us how the forest is the abode of the various deities. The most famous of all the deities was Labasa. The Khasis believe that the deities take the form of various wild animals like a leopard and protect the tribals. In return the tribals acknowledge them by respecting the nature. Not only do they refrain from cutting any of the trees or using the fruits or flowers, but they also do not take anything from the forest.
Now and then a mossy stone rose out of the forest floor as evidence of the numerous rituals which were conducted by the natives to protect themselves, from evils like wars and diseases. The humming of the epiphyte-covered trees and the rippling of the lone stream of the grove justified all the tales that our young Khasi friend had just narrated to us.
When the three hours in the grove came to an end, the serenity in the atmosphere had captivated our mind and soul to such an extend that we refused to return to the noisy city lives that we had been living so far.