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Kongthong: The whistling village of India

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Kongthong village also known as the “whistling village” The North-Eastern region of India is counted amongst the most wanted to be explored areas in the country today. It is the most talked about destination among adventure lovers.

The beautiful villages of the North-East will take your breath away. Some of them have interesting facts about them with their beauty.

Meghalaya 3

This article will provide you an insight to “Kongthong” which is popularly known as the “whistling village”.

The whistling village of Meghalaya:

Nestled in the lap of lush green hills and surrounded by a verdant forest, Kongthong sits in the East Khasi hills in the district of Meghalaya. The village offers peace and sound of chirping birds that provides relief from the hustle and bustle of city life. Besides the resonators of nature the villagers have their tradition of whistling around to communicate.

The inhabitants of the village hold a unique tradition of assigning both a regular name and a tune to newborns. The villagers call each other with a unique tune. Each of them has a unique tune for calling each other and this legacy as a form of tradition has been going on for generations. This tune is named as “Jingrwai Lawbei” by the people of the village which means mother’s love song.

What does Jingrwai iawbei mean?

Jingrwai iawbei means a melody (jingrwai) sung in honour of the root ancestress or the first mother of the clan (iawbei).

There are basically two versions of the song: a long song and a short song and the short song is normally used at home.

While their name is only used for official purposes, this tune becomes their identity to which they respond throughout their lives. Once a person dies, their tune dies with them, never to be repeated for anyone else ever.

Reason behind naming it “whistling village”:

In a report by BBC, a woman belonging to the Khasi tribe quoted, “It is an expression of a mother’s unbridled love and joy at the birth of her child. It’s like a mother’s heart song, full of tenderness, almost like a lullaby.” She also explained that there are longer, original versions that we sing out in the fields, when one needs to call for someone across the hills and valleys. She also said that there are shorter versions too which are an extract of the long tune that is akin to a nickname, which is sung when its bearer is closer within earshot, say at home or in the playground. When heard from afar, the tunes sound like whistles, which is why Kongthong has been dubbed the “Whistling Village”.

In the old times these melodies were produced and used to keep track of one another in the forest while hunting, and also “to ward off evil spirits”.


Selected as “Best Tourism Village”

The village has around 80 households and 900 inhabitants who speak the Khasi language and rely on farming for their livelihoods. It hardly has concrete buildings but on visiting one may witness huts made of wood collected from the forest in abundance. Keeping the scenic beauty and number of visitors and explorers, the Kongthong village was selected as the “Best Tourism Village” by the Ministry of Tourism.

East Khasi Hills

In 2016, award-winning Indian filmmaker Oinam Doren released a 52-minute documentary titled “My Name is Eeooow” on Kongthong and its unique tradition. The film bagged the Tangible Culture Prize at the 15th RAI Film Festival in Bristol. The plot speaks on what happens to this maternal expression of love when children fly the nest to bigger cities and are exposed to modern lifestyles.

New Project 132

It is noteworthy that the unique traditions of the communities of Northeast India is what makes the region so dynamic. Therefore,it is expected that the new generation could live up to the traditions by keeping a firm hold and continuing the legacy inherited by their ancestors.



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