Meghalaya’s Kongthong village, which is also known as the “whistling village”, recently honoured Prime Minister Narendra Modi by making him part of a unique tradition that goes back centuries.
In this village, located in the lush, rolling hills of the northeast state, everyone’s name is a melody as mothers compose a special tune for each child when it is born. Everyone in the village, inhabited by the Khasi people, then addresses the person with the individual little tune or whistle for a lifetime. They have conventional “real” names too, but they are rarely used.
Kongthong, around 60km from capital Shillong, has long been cut off from the rest of the country, several hours of tough trek from the nearest town, and the centre has taken up the initiative to put the village on the map by promoting tourism.
The Ministry of Tourism recently nominated the village for the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages Contest from India.
To thanks the PM for his efforts, a tune was composed by a woman in the village in his honour. A video of the same was shared by PM Modi after it was posted by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Twitter.
Grateful to the people of Kongthong for this kind gesture. The Government of India is fully committed to boosting the tourism potential of Meghalaya. And yes, have also been seen great pictures of the recent Cherry Blossom Festival in the state. Looks beautiful. @SangmaConradhttps://t.co/9ibr8eM1zd
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 28, 2021
“Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi, please accept this special tune composed by the villagers of Kongthong in your honour & in appreciation of GoI’s efforts in promoting the village as a prime tourism destination,” the chief minister tweeted.
“Grateful to the people of Kongthong for this kind gesture. The Government of India is fully committed to boosting the tourism potential of Meghalaya. And yes, have also been seen great pictures of the recent Cherry Blossom Festival in the state. Looks beautiful. @SangmaConrad,” the PM replied.
In the video, a woman named Kong Shidiat Khongsit, sitting outside a wooden hut, can be seen humming a tune in honour of the PM. The video clip also shows the landscape of the melodious village with lush green hills and forest areas.
The custom of assigning tunes to residents here is known as “jingrwai lawbei”, meaning “song of the clan’s first woman”, a reference to the Khasi people’s mythical original mother.