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Asia’s ‘cleanest village’ Mawlynnong struggles to keep record intact

SHILLONG, April 21, 2018: Long before the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan put the spotlight on cleanliness, a small village in the green hills of Meghalaya made it a way of life. Long hailed as the “cleanest village in Asia”, Mawlynnong is now facing the fallout of its fame as an eco-tourism destination.
About 80 km from Shillong, the village is situated close to the border with Bangladesh. Upon entering the village, one encounters a bamboo hut perched 85-feet high, appropriately named Sky View, from where one can see the plains of Bangladesh. Fluttering next to it, and somewhat out of place, is an National People’s Party (NPP) flag.

A little further ahead, signs of Mawlynnong’s Christian legacy are preserved in the 116-year-old Church of the Epiphany, an Anglican church. ‘God’s own garden’, proclaims the board welcoming visitors to Mawlynnong, right next to another sign listing the rules to be followed by them. In 2003, a magazine put the tiny village on the tourism map by calling it the “cleanest village in Asia”. Mawlynnong does not take the epithet lightly.

Rishot Khongthohrem is one of the proactive members of the community responsible for making Mawlynnong what it is today. “We are only following what our ancestors started. About 150 years ago, people in our village were completely cut off from the rest of the world. They thought worshipping gods would cure diseases,” says the 53-year-old headmaster of the CNI Lower Primary School.

“Their habits were unhealthy and led to diseases, even an outbreak of the plague. When Christian missionaries got here in 1887, they taught our people everything about hygiene. And things got better. Since then, cleanliness has become a habit that we pass down to every generation,” he adds.

The village prides itself on its self-sustained cleanliness. Besides a ban on littering imposed by the village council, Mawlynnong has gone sustainable in several other ways. Its dustbins are made of wicker and have come to be associated with the village and its green mission. The benches are made of bamboo. The streets are lit with solar lamps.

“Cleaners empty the waste baskets once in the morning and once in the evening. Plastic waste is carried to Shillong Municipal Board,” says Rishot.

Prestone Tynsong, a minister in the Meghalaya Democratic Allianceand legislator from Pynursla, under which Mawlynnong lies, says, “The village has no less than 140 households. I was amazed when I saw how conscious the villagers are. Whenever anyone, right from the children to the elders, sees litter, she or he picks it up and throws it in the proper place. Without a thought. It comes naturally to them.”

Mawlynnong has now set an exemplary standard for other villages. “Following in the footsteps of Mawlynnong, other villages are also trying to strive for cleanliness. There are 106 villages in my constituency. At least 70 of those are very clean,” Tynsong says.

The fame comes at a cost. “Now, we are connected by a road. People from outside the area know about us. So a lot of tourists come all round the year,” says Rishot, who also runs several guest houses here.

“If you see my parking lot in the morning, it is absolutely clean. By midday, five-six tourist buses will come. And when they leave, you will see plastic scattered all around the area. Many tourists cooperate in keeping the village clean. But some do not. So we pick up after them,” he rues.

 In recent years, the village has had to employ cleaners who go around all day. “We do this all through the day,” says 20-year-old Salvestar Khongrom, picking up every bit of litter, even dry leaves and flowers, and putting them in the wicker basket he is carrying.
“We use the donations received from tourists to pay the cleaners and workers of the village,” says Rishot. The village’s economy has certainly benefitted from tourism. While most residents are engaged in agriculture and betel nut cultivation, growing tourist interest has led to the mushrooming of home-stays, guest houses and shops selling indigenous items.
“We will keep the place clean, no matter the number of tourists who come here,” Rishot adds with optimism.

Source: Times of India

Image Courtesy: Travel Triangle

Living Megalithic Culture of Khasi-Jaintia can help understand global megalithic culture better

By Ibankyntiew Mawrie, Shillong News | Shillong, April 10, 2018:

As archaeologists and historians from across the world continues to collect every piece of pre-historic remains and records to ascertain the significance of Megaliths and Monoliths spread across the globe, an expert and author from Bangalore upheld that the living Megalithic Culture of the Khasi-Jaintia in Meghalaya might hold the key to understanding megaliths all over the world.

FKJGP asks Syiem of Hima Mylliem to protect sanctity of U Lum Shyllong

Shillong News Desk | Shillong, March 18, 2018:

Repeated complaints of the presence of anti-social activities being carried out in one of the state’s favourite tourist spots – Shillong Peak, a social organisation – Federation of Khasi Jaintia Garo People (FKJGP) has asked the traditional custodian of the site – Chieftain of Mylliem Syiemship to protect and preserve the sanctity and sacredness of ‘U Lum Shyllong’.

Capturing the untold stories of women in Iewduh through pictures and narratives

Shillong News Desk | Shillong, March 07, 2018: 

International Women’s Day has become a time to reflect on progress, to call for change and to celebrate the courage and determination of women who have changed history. International Women’s Day is an occasion to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilise for meaningful change.

TNT TV- Glimpses of Meghalaya’s Seng Kut Snem 2017


Shillong, November 25, 2017: A hundred and eighteen years and counting, the Seng Khasis or the Khasi community following the indigenous faith continues to celebrate the renaissance and awakening of the Khasi community and this year was no exception as the streets of Shillong was covered in festivity as people danced through the streets to the sound of the drums and chanting the traditional cry “Hoii kiew”.

Footfall of Cherry Blossom Festival in Shillong triples!

Shillong, November 16, 2017: This year, the number of people who attended India’s International Cherry Blossom Festival in Meghalaya, tripled as compared to 2016.

The festival was held earlier this November from the 8th till the 11th at the scenic Wards Lake, dotted with pink and white cherry blossoms which then concluded at Polo Grounds where local culture, tasted food and brew of the region were displayed.

“There were 35,556 adults and 1,343 children who visited the Wards Lake during the four-day festival period, and a total of Rs 3.74 lakh was collected as entry fees,” state Forest and Environment Secretary A Mawlong. He also added that the footfall during the festival period has “tripled” as compared to 2016, the first year of the event. The fee collected at the venue, too, doubled from Rs 1.4 lakh last year, the official further stated.

The total number of people who attended the festival on all the four days was nearly 60,000 this year as against 20,000 a year ago, an official said.

TNT News with inputs from agencies

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