Human sacrifice at Meghalaya’s Durga Temple
If you have ever visited the Durga temple of Nartiang in the west Jaintia hills of Meghalaya, you must have come across the temple priest, who spoke of the human sacrifice ritual adopted by Jaintia kings. The temple still hosts an old traditional warrior’s double-edged-sword that is believed to have been used to perform human sacrifice to appease Goddess Durga in ancient times.
In front of the sanctum sanctorum there is a square hole, believed to be an opening of a tunnel from where the severed head of the person offered for sacrifice rolled down to the Myntang river hundreds of meters away from the temple. This continued till human sacrifice got banned by the British. A white mask of a human face hangs on one of the wooden posts near the Goddess’ image. Symbolically, human sacrifice continues in the form of goat sacrifice.
According to tradition a goat representing a human, is offered till date by the Daloi on behalf of the King. The black goat that the Daloi offers must be healthy and spotless and is not sacrificed along with other animals on the day scheduled for animal sacrifice. The symbolic human sacrifice known in local parlance as “Blangsynniaw” or mid-night goat is performed in the dead of night before the common sacrificial day. Before the goat symbolizing a human is sacrificed, a Pnar turban is put on its head and a pair of earrings known as ‘kyndiam’ are hung on both ears of the goat and a dhoti (yu-slein) is tied around its waist. To complete the formal transformation of the goat to a symbolic human, a white mask of a human face is placed on the goat’s face and the goat is ready for a special sacrifice. The symbolic human sacrifice is not only very strangely performed in the middle of the night, but the Priest also informs that while performing the sacrifice, the temple is completely closed to anyone except the Priest and the sacrificial goat.