India’s tourism industry contributed $178 billion, or about 5.8 per cent, to the country’s gross domestic product in 2021. This will more than double to $512 billion by 2028, according to Government data. The tourism sector provides about 137 million jobs. The industry has been noticing historic high demands of rates and occupancies with domestic travel witnessing a surge. Other than scenic beauty, Meghalaya, in the new year, has a bouquet of festivals lined up, that are sure to please all kinds of travellers.
The Government of Meghalaya, under the leadership of CM Shri Conrad Sangma, envisions making Meghalaya, one of the top 10 states of the country and tourism plays a pivotal role in achieving this goal. The policies and programs implemented by the Government work towards trying to make Meghalaya the most sought-after tourist destination. Meghalaya, also known as the Abode of Clouds, is known for its abundant biodiversity areas, famed monsoons, and dramatic terrain. Still, Meghalaya also has a rich cultural and natural heritage, and many festivals are celebrated all around the year to commemorate the same. This makes Meghalaya the perfect destination for avid travellers around the globe who can immerse themselves in the vivid cultural heritage of the state. These festivals form an integral part of showcasing the cultural wealth of the State and unlocking its potential through tourism.
The four major cultural and religious festivals of the State are the Wangala Dance (Garo hills – November), Shad Suk Mynsiem and Nongkrem Dance Festival (Khasi hills – April and November), and the Behdeinkhlam Festival (Jaintia hills – July). In addition to these, the Government of Meghalaya also organizes a calendar of curated festivals ranging from Kayaking to music and literature. The significant among these are the Kayaking festival (October), the Autumn festival (October), the Boating Regetta (November), the International Film Festival (December) and the Winter Tales Festival (December).
The most prominent festivals are the Cherry Blossom festival and the Me.Gong Festival. One of the most vibrant and beautiful celebrations held each year in Meghalaya is the Cherry Blossom Festival, which takes place in Shillong. The Cherry Blossom festival is celebrated in Shillong during the month of November to mark the blossoming of the pink cherry flowers. It is a 10-day celebration comprising a series of events including music and literature festivals. The Me.Gong festival is celebrated during the first week of December in the Garo Hills. This celebration is given the name Me.gong after a flower that grows plentifully in the Garo Hills. The event showcases the traditions and cultures of the people through games, shows and performances. The three-day festival also showcases beverages from all over the area.
Meghalaya has ample to offer to the zealous traveller with its unforgettable landscapes, table-top heights brimful with waterfalls, streams, and forest trails and postcard-perfect representations of life – complete with pastel green meadows, tall pine groves, crisp cool air, and quiet villages with quaint cottages and wooden fences spread across the countryside. It is, however, the State’s bouquet of festivities, owing to its many distinct tribal inhabitants and a vibrant and modern State capital, that truly make it stand out. Meghalaya is the perfect microcosm of the Northeastern part of this great nation and a must-see destination for the globe trotter.