Video | Khasi music and education – how a local tradition secularizes itself

Professor Helen Giri explains the need to view tribal music traditions such as those of the Khasi and Garo, in the light of classical as well as folk music studies. She is Head of Department of Music at the Martin Luther Christian University in Shillong (Meghalaya). Whereas folk music may or may not be “measured”, traditional music has to be properly learned and taught.

Assistant Professor Meban Lyngdoh explains the need for a “secular” approach to teaching music in a Christian educational context.

Helen Giri continues to explain how conversion to Christianity since 1841 resulted in greater literacy in the region. From the 1890s onwards, this process facilitated the cultural revival fostered by the Seng Khasi movement as part of its campaign against British domination. Today traditional Khasi music is widely accepted by modern society. It is even taught as a post-graduate subject in a Christian institution such as the Martin Luther Christian University. 

The film concludes with a brief vocal and instrumental performance by Kerius Wallang.

Duration: 02:18 – Researched and filmed by Gayatri Indira Vijaysimha and Dev Narayan Chaudhuri (Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai) © 2010. This is a cutout of their video documentary on the Khasi music of Meghalaya edited for the Tribal Cultural Heritage in India Foundation. 

Learn more: Khasi musical heritage of Meghalaya >>