Meghalaya has always been a far cry from the rest of India, and for all the right reasons. The state is home to some of the most alluring natural wonders in the country, as well as a rich history of culture and curious tradition. It is also home to the Khasi and the Garo people, two of the few tribes to follow a matriarchal structure of society.
In a country like India, where the status of women doesn’t have to be told to be understood, the fact that there are societies with a culture of dominant women is a wonder in itself.
The Khasis, the oldest inhabitants of the North-East, celebrate the birth of a girl child.
Unlike many places in India, where the birth of a girl is accompanied by reactions ranging from subdued acceptance to outright rage, the birth of a girl in places like Shillong is accompanied by a heavy dose of merry-making and mirth.
Women have equal status in both urban and rural areas
There is no disparity in the treatment of women in urban and rural households of the Khasis and the Garos. A five minute peep into their home is all you need to see the clear difference in their culture. Women and men both share duties, chores and of course, wine.
The woman is the sole custodian of wealth and property
According to custom, property is handed to the youngest daughter in the family, though the maternal uncles are considered the directors of ancestral property. This has greatly empowered the women here, and has afforded them a level of importance and significance seldom found in the rest of the country.
In Khasi marriages, the men go and live with the wife and her family
In a practise that probably gives quite a few Khaps a bad case of the runs, Khasi men usually go and live in the house of the woman and her family after marriage. This is in stark contrast to most other communities in India, which see tearful goodbyes between the woman’s family and have been the basis for most Bollywood movies.
There are no illegitimate children in the Khasi community
An interesting and little known fact is that Khasi children take the title of their mother and her clan. This effectively means there are no illegitimate children among them, and that Jon Snow would presumably have been a much happier child here.