'Whistling Village': In Meghalaya's Kongthong, villagers have names that are songs
In Meghalaya's Kongthong Village, people do not call each other by their regular names but by a distinct melody or special tune, which is why the area is known as 'Whistling Village'.
Kongthong is located in the East Khasi Hills district, which is about 60 km from Meghalaya's capital city Shillong.
People of this village also use whistling as a method of conveying their messages to their fellow villagers. The villagers of Kongthong have called this tune 'Jingrwai Lawbei', which means mother's love song.
The villagers have two names - one is a regular name and another is a song name and the song names are two versions - a long song and a short song and the short song is normally used at home. There are around 700 villagers in Kongthong and there are 700 different tunes.
Phiwstar Khongsit, a man belonging to the Khasi tribe and an inhabitant of Kongthong village told ANI that the 'tune' used to address a person is composed by the mothers after childbirth.
"If any villager dies, then the tune of that person will also die along with him or her. We have our own tunes and the mother composed these tunes. We have used the tunes in two ways - long tune and short tune. We have used the short tune in our village or home. My tune was composed by my mother. This system is going on in our village from generation to generation. We don't know when it started. But, all villagers are very happy with this," Phiwstar Khongsit explained.
Jipson Sohkhlet, another local from Kongthong village said that the villagers also use tunes or melodies to communicate with each other.
"We have around 700 population in our village, so we have around 700 different tunes. These tunes have been used only for communication, not calling his or her original names. We have used the full song or tune to communicate with other villagers in the jungle or field. There is one song, but two different ways - a full song or tune and a short tune. The tune has composed by the mother when a new baby is born. A new song is born when a new baby is born. If one person dies then his song or tune will also die, that song or tune will never be used again. This system is going on traditionally from generation to generation. We are continuing these practices," Jipson Sohkhlet said.
He said that now the people of some other villages of Meghalaya are also adopting this practice.
Last year, the Ministry of Tourism selected Kongthong village UNWTO's (The World Tourism Organisation) 'Best Tourism Villages' award along with two other villages in the country.
In 2019, Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar Rakesh Sinha adopted the village and suggested a UNESCO tag for the village.