Have you ever seen a sacred forest? Have you ever been to a forest walk where every tree, every flower, every parasitic plant, every stone has a story to narrate.
One such forest is Sacred forest situated in Mawphlong. The Sacred forest is protected by the Lyngdoh clan, who believe that the deity protects the village. The huge forest was once ruled by the Blah clan, who found it difficult to rule the massive forest. Then they decided to choose another clan. Blah clan found a woman, a Lyngdoh, who had a son. She agreed to let her son protect the forest but on one condition. She planted five saplings and said if they grew into trees, her son will takeover. The saplings grew beautifully. This is only one story and the forest has numerous of them. But you need to know only one thing here, you cannot take anything out of this Sacred Forest. Yes nothing! Not even a leaf! From fallen leaves to stones to even a flower petal you cannot take anything out of this forest. As the stories go, people suffer from skin diseases or get blood in their urine if they take something with them. You cannot disrespect the forest else the deity gets angry. People have seen the deity. “If you break the rules, you will suffer, which can even result in death”, said Arnold, a forest guide who knows all these legendary stories. Once you are inside you will be bewildered by the Sacred forest. As you move inside the forest, you will see monoliths, which represents the place of sacrifices. There are trees which are said to have the cure for diseases, even breast cancer. You will also spot a rudraksh tree which is worshipped by Hindus.
Since it can rain anytime of the day in the forest it is advisable to carry an umbrella with you. Although the dense forest will give its best to protect you from the rain for sometime but it doesn’t work when heavy rainfall occurs.
The forest is really beautiful with several varieties of trees and flowers. The whole trek to this forest takes about 2 hours, but walking with Arnold (tourist guide) you can spend several hours here listening to the stories of this place. Dense trees, carpet of leaves, sound of birds, beautiful flowers and a clear water brook will leave you spell bound. Arnold even told us that you can spot flying squirrels here.
Also, it is advisable to take a guide with you as you will get lost in the forest without him. The Khasi villagers here celebrate nature and organise festivals every year. If you are lucky enough you might get a chance to see the festival they celebrate with their traditional dance form. The village is ruled by a king, who is chosen through a democratic election. All in all, presently there are 53 kingdoms here. All have one rule. Respect the Sacred Forest.
You can learn more about every tree,every stone, every flower which has a story to narrate by a very good narrator and a recommended guide: Arnold (Contact No: +91-8731911410) . He will even craft some special items for you using flowers, leaves and tree stems. You can take pictures with them, but don’t get tempted to take them home.
In all I don’t know if these stories are true or not but it is sure a great step from the local people of Shilong to preserve their forests.
Go to the woods if you can. Go deep enough that you don’t see out into that other normal and mundane world. Sit. Listen. Meditate. Dream.Walk.