Abhidha Journal

Abhidha

Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage

Abhidha

Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage

Title:

Animal Sacrifices in Ancestral Worship by Khasis of Meghalaya: An Ethnographic Perspective

Author:

Kanchani Prova Koch

Abstract:

The Khasis are a tribe and native of Meghalaya, a north-eastern state of India. Their origin can be traced to Southeast Asia. They belong to the Mon-Khmer linguistic family. The society of this tribe is matrilineal which considers its descendents from the mother known as Ka Iawbei Tynrai. Christianity has influenced a majority of Khasis in the state. However, a few people continue to follow their traditional beliefs and practice traditional rituals and rites till today. The religion of the Khasis believes in one supreme God in addition to having faith in spirits for both good and bad on certain occasions. In spiritual beliefs of the Khasis, one of the significant spirits is ancestral spirit and ancestral worship is one of the essential features of the traditional life of Khasis. By showing love towards ancestral spirits and belief in supernatural powers, the Khasis try to appease the deceased ancestors by offering both food and sacrifice. The ancestral worship of this ethnic group is associated with megalithic structures. The presence of a large numbers of megalithic structures in Meghalaya indicates that these structures have socio-economic and socio-religious significance for the Khasis, and that is why a number of rituals associated with these are practiced till today. Consequently, the megalithic culture of Khasis can be considered as living tradition. Sacrificing of animals is one of the important aspects of ancestral worship by Khasis and the same has been dealt in detail in this paper.