The Ministry of Tourism has nominated Meghalaya's whistling village, Kongthong for entry to UNWTO (The World Tourism Organization) 'Best Tourism Village' along with two other villages in India.
The two other villages that have been nominated for UNWTO 'Best Tourism Villages' award are Pochampally in Telangana and Ladhpura Khas in Madhya Pradesh.
#Kongthong Village, located in the Khat-ar-shnong area in East Khasi Hills, was recently announced as one of three villages in India to have been nominated for UNWTO's 'Best Tourism Villages' contest. Read through the images to find out what got Kongthong nominated. pic.twitter.com/xY0NabcBUA
— Meghalaya Tourism (@meghtourism) September 14, 2021
Here are some facts about the 'Whistling Village'
Nestled between Meghalaya’s Sohra and Pynursla ridges — 65 km from Shillong—is the village called Kongthong. The village attracts tourists for its beautiful views and greenery.
However, another interesting aspect about this village that pulls hundreds of tourists every year is that the name of every resident in this village is a tune. Hence, it is popularly known as the Whistling Village.
Kongthong is the most prominent village because of its striking location and its unique tradition where residents of the village are assigned a tune that also serves as a unique ID. The residents of the Kongthong, known as the Whistling Village along with people from the nearby villages have been practising this tradition for generations.
This is an ancient tradition of tune-giving or Jingrwai Iawbei (tune in honour of the root ancestress), reports The Week. Each of the 700 villagers in Kongthong is not known by a name, but by a tune. Within a week of a baby’s birth, the mother assigns the child a tune, which becomes their name.
The mother has to make the tune different than the already existing ones in order to ensure that the child’s identity remains unique.
However, there are no records of when this unique cultural practice started. As per NagalandPost, the elders of the village have reportedly said that the practice has existed since time immemorial and has carved a distinctive cultural identity for the village and its residents through the practice of the unique “jingrwai ïawbei”.
So essentially, the villagers have two names — one is a regular name and another is a song name. The song names are two versions — a long song and a short song and the short song is normally used at home.
Like most villages in Meghalaya, Kongthong, where Khasi people live, follows a matrilineal tradition where the children inherit the mother’s family lineage and clan. This trait is the hallmark of the tribe.
Although, as per The Indian Express, there are 10 major clans in the village and four of them, namely Khongsit, Majaw, Lynrah and Pohnong, all of whom claim to be founders of the village.
Back in 2019, Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar Rakesh Sinha had adopted the village and had also suggested the UNESCO tag
— Prof Rakesh Sinha MP (@RakeshSinha01) September 9, 2021
What is 'Best Tourism Villages' by UNWTO?
With the vision of making tourism a positive force for transformation, rural development and community wellbeing, ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ aims to maximise the contribution of the sector to reducing regional inequalities and fighting against rural depopulation. It also seeks to advance the role of tourism in valuing and safeguarding rural villages along with their associated landscapes, knowledge systems, biological and cultural diversity, local values and activities, including gastronomy.