Picturesque imageries all around, impalpable clouds wafting overhead, multitude of flora and fauna, the amazing living root bridge and so much more to explore! Do these clues bring any familiar place in your mindscape? Surely it does. All these illustrations can only be found in abundance in Meghalaya, one of the seven (7) NE- states of India. The natural elegance not only soothes the heart, but the denizens of this magical setting add to the topping as well.
Within its bower, Meghalaya nurtures an admirable tradition that sets a benchmark for the rest of the world. When the 21st century reeks of women violence and brutality, womenfolk of Meghalaya adjudicate the family affairs all in all.
Historical statistics showcase patriliny to be the conventional practice since time immemorial. Men officiate the property and business affairs both inside and outside the hearth. Such instances have become decidedly mundane for us. Meghalaya seems to follow an earmarked tradition where the youngest daughter of the house is passed down the family property and accountability. This is the “Matrilineal” tradition that is followed by the Khasi and Jaintia women. It is this code of conduct where the property streams from mother to daughter instead of father to son. To put it another way, women are the legal authorities in this matrilineal system. A childless couple can adopt a girl child too and pass her down the family property. Married women’s progeny hold the title of their mother’s clan or “Kur”.
In the Matrilineal tradition, the “Khatduh” (youngest daughter) of the family nourish and satiate the family needs, even of her unmarried brothers and sisters. The system generated when the previous Khasi kings entrusted the family responsibility on their wives while in war or battles.
NE-India has a reputation of bestowing bountiful of respect and admiration to its women population. When the rest of the world inhales the fag of patriarchal tradition, Khasi and Jaintia women bathe in the glory of empowerment and freedom. Women sans marital status can beget a child without being slut-shamed. Inter—caste marriage is also not something that is loathed in Meghalaya.
Predictably, the presence of patriarchy has left its trail in this women’s paradise too. Crusade against the matrilineal system has germinated the SRT (Syngkhong Rympei Thymma) group. It’s a group of men who demand to switch this traditional mode in their favour. Khasi women however, have affirmed that men of the house are always given the guardian position despite of their metaphorical role-play.
Women of Meghalaya nevertheless, are debarred from participating in “Dorbar Shnong” signifying the collective village council. The political realm has always used this trope of excluding women from voicing out themselves. Matriliny though prevalent yet, women of Meghalaya have to register their grievances and concerns via men of the house. Patricia Mukhim, famous social activist has expressed her displeasure in isolating Khasi women from the political episode.
Seamless functioning of the matrilineal system in Meghalaya can definitely be a boon for female empowerment. Cascading of opportunities for women where the social mores does not shackle women only to household chores is certain to shape a utopia for women of Meghalaya.