Who are Khasi people?

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Who are Khasi people? Blog Image


A tribal council’s recent order not to issue a Scheduled Tribe (ST) certificate to any Khasi person who adopts the surname of her or his father has triggered a war of words in matrilineal Meghalaya.

About Khasi people:

  • The Khasi people are an indigenous ethnic group of Meghalaya in north-eastern India with a significant population in the bordering state of Assam, and in certain parts of Bangladesh.
  • They inhabit the eastern part of Meghalaya, in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. Khasis residing in Jaintia hills are now better known as Jaintias. They are also called Pnars.
  • The Khasis occupying the northern lowlands and foothills are generally called Bhois. Those who live in the southern tracts are termed Wars.
  • The Khasi people form the majority of the population of the eastern part of Meghalaya, and is the state’s largest community, with around 48% of the population of Meghalaya. 
  • Dress:
    • The traditional Khasi male dress is “Jymphong” or a longish sleeveless coat without collar, fastened by thongs in front. Now, the Khasis have adopted the western dress.
    • The Khasi traditional female dress is rather elaborate with several pieces of cloth, giving the body a cylindrical shape. On ceremonial occasions, they wear a crown of silver or gold on the head. A spike or peak is fixed to the back of the crown, corresponding to the feathers worn by the menfolk.
  • Social Structure: 
    • They are divided into several clans.
    • They have a matrilineal society.
    • Descent is traced through the mother, but the father plays an important role in the material and mental life of the family.
    • Inheritance: In the Khasi society, it is only the youngest daughter or “Ka Khadduh” who is eligible to inherit the ancestral property.
  • Language: They speak Khasi, a member of the Khasic group of Austroasiatic languages.
  • Religion: The Khasis are now mostly Christians. But before that, they believed in a Supreme Being, The Creator – U Blei Nongthaw and under Him, there were several deities of water and of mountains and also of other natural objects.


Q1) What is Jaintia Hills famous for?

Jaintia people are famous for their weaving skills and creating cane mats, stools and baskets. They are also famous for weavi ng of carpet and silk and the making of musical instruments, jewellery and pineapple fiber articles.

Source: Row over adopting father’s surname in matrilineal Meghalaya