Tura, Nov 18: Megong (Bauhinia white orchid lily) is a flowering plant sporadically visible in Garo Hills in autumn.
With the euphoria over Cheery blossom festival in Khasi Hills, the government chose to promote Megong, the ‘counterpart’ of the former, for the first time in Garo Hills.
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Thursday opened the three-day Megong festival at Babadam, christened as heritage villlage.
Botanicaly known as Bauhunia Variegata, it is a species of legum family.Mounten ebony and orchid tree are its other names.
The locals eat the leaves and the best shoots come from freshly jhummed fields.
The plant has medicinal properties and is used to treat jaundice and cure wounds.
Inauguratting the festival, Sangma said the ‘purpose is to promote the culture, diversity and the lifestyle of the Garos.
The fest is also showcasing different local brew made from rice and fruits from across the Garo Hills as well as from Assam, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. “The festival is part of various celebrations to commemorate Meghalaya’s 50th year of statehood and 75th year of Independence’, he said.
Conrad said Me’gong festival supported by Tourism department will showcase Meghalaya’s Garo Hills as a tourism destination. “Due to Covid pandemic, the tourism industry has suffered, as the Covid situation is improving, the state government has planned various events to promote and attract tourist to the state,” he said.
The chief minister told the gathering about the prestigious “Tribal Research Institute” (TRI), which is coming up at Chidikgre in Babadam. He said TRI will give opportunity for research and documentation of different tribal cultures.
“We want to make TRI a vibrant centre for research and documentation of different tribal cultures. We will open this centre for all tribes of Northeast and even beyond,” he said.
The institute will be inaugurated next year to mark the birth anniversary of (L) P. A. Sangma.
He said that Me’gong will be an annual event that will be organised in the TRI campus from next year.
“We started Me’gong with a theme of exploring the different breweries of the tribal cultures. Tribal people are proud of their culture and their traditional drinks represent their cultural identities. And as a government, we feel that people should be given an opportunity to experience the unique cultural diversities of Northeast. We all share a bond and through this festival, we aim to foster our relationship,” the chief minister said.
He said next year, the government intends to upscale the event and include more activities. “We may change the theme of the event every year, but what will remain intact is the intent to ensure that the tribal identity and culture is maintained,” he said.