New Delhi: Meghalaya’s Kongthong village, which is known to the outside world as “whistling village” has been bestowed with the prestigious ‘Best Tourism Village (Bronze)’ award at the National Tourism Awards 2023 by the Union Ministry of Tourism.
This remarkable recognition was bestowed upon Kongthong by the Government of India, at a glittering ceremony held at Bharat Mandapam, Pragati Maidan, here on Wednesday.
Minister of State of Tourism Ajay Bhatt, Union Tourism Secretary Ms. V. Vidhyavathi, Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Secretary, Leena Nandan and Additional Secretary Ministry of Tourism Rakesh Kumar Verma were present at the occasion.
What is unique about Kongthong village is that after a mother gives birth to a child, she composes a unique tune, locally called “jingrwai ïawbei” (song in honor of the root ancestress) which is used to call the child till he or she grows up.
Though there are no records of when this unique cultural practice started, the elders of the village 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”.
Kongthong, like other regions in Meghalaya 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.
A tourism official said that the tourism ministry is committed to promoting sustainable and culturally enriching tourism experiences across the country.
“In line with the G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration and the Goa Roadmap for Tourism, the ministry unveiled the Travel for LiFE program on World Tourism Day 2023,” the official said
The global launch of this initiative witnessed virtual participation from G20 countries, international organizations, and various Indian states, highlighting the importance of responsible and immersive tourism.
Speaking on the achievement, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said “This recognition is a testament to the rich cultural heritage and natural beauty that Meghalaya has to offer. Kongthong’s melodious whistles echo the harmony of our diverse traditions and the serenity of our landscapes. The second large scale employment generator for our State is the Tourism sector.”
“Our goal is to transform Meghalaya into India’s most preferred tourist destination. We now have one of the most attractive Homestay Schemes in the country, providing a subsidy of up to 7 lakh rupees per homestay About 300 homestays were sanctioned in the last year. We target to build another 2,000 homestays in the next five years,” Sangma said.
Moreover, he said the luxury vehicles scheme is another success and is being diversified to include mini- buses and caravans.
“The Government will also build new infrastructure like large accommodation units, experiential centers, amusement parks and viewing galleries in about 100 new villages to expand tourism beyond the established clusters,” the Chief Minister said.