The Robin Laloo Memorial Seminar on Heritage and Legacy

Shillong April 10: As experts in various fields across the world try to understand the vast history and many unexplained details of the human race and its journey from caveman to modern man, stone structures have always been the center of many of these exploration and research.   As the experts try to understand the meanings and significance of the stone structures across the globe, one such expert, the Principal Research Officer, Department of Heritage and Humanities, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Dr Srikumar Menon opined that the living Megalithic Culture of the Khasi-Jaintia in Meghalaya might hold the key to understanding megaliths all over the world.

Dr Menon was speaking during his address as the keynote speaker at the “Khasi History in Stone: The Robin Laloo Memorial Seminar on Heritage and Legacy”, organised by the Department of Environment and Traditional Ecosystems, MLCU Shillong in collaboration with the Informed Conscious and Responsible Existence (ICARE), Shillong , today April 10, 2018 at the MLCU campus.

This Seminar was held in memory of (Late) Mr. Robin Laloo, who passed away late last year on November 20, 2017 and who was very passionate and devoted towards the preservation of the Khasi and Jaintia culture especially in spreading awareness about the importance of the stone structures in our culture.

Dr. Menon informed that the megaliths, being prehistoric monuments, researchers, historians and archaeologists can only examine the material culture of the people who built them, in order to understand what meaning they held for their builders, “Megaliths thus represent a rich body of our heritage, left by unknown ancestors, whose efforts pioneered the development of monumental architecture in stone, which was to rise to dizzying heights in later times”.

After visiting the various sites of the traditional stone structures in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills Dr. Menon concluded that because the Khasi-Jaintia have a living tradition which is still being practiced till date, it might help experts to understand the pre-historic culture better, since the Khasi and the Jaintia tribes know the circumstances in which they were put up, how they were put up and the different purposes they serve.

The seminar was also attended by MLCU Chancellor, Dr Glenn C Kharkongor; MLCU Vice Chancellor, Dr. Vincent T Darlong; ICARE president, Toki Blah; HoD of Department of Community and Cultural Initiatives, Dr Fabian Lyngdoh; Associate Professor of History Department of Union Christian College and Archaeologist, Dr Marco Mitri; renowned columnist and President of Society for Urban and Rural Empowerment, HH Mohrmen; besides faculties and students of the University.

The seminar was organised with the aim to recognise the historical, cultural and social perspective of the monoliths and other stone structures in the Khasi and Jaintia society, to analyse the role and importance of stone structures in the tribal culture and to explore the history of stone associated with folklore.

Presentations were also made by the faculty of the department of Environment and Traditional Ecosystems, on various topics relating to stone structures entitled “Ossuaries among the Khasis: a study in Ummat and Sohbar villages”; Stone structures in Khasi folklores and folktales  namely “Khoh Ramhah”;  and stones in children games entitled, “ Mawkorkotia: A children’s game”.

The Seminar also hosted a  painting exhibition: "Stone culture among the Khasi-Jaintia communities",  by the city's renowned artists, Ms Careen J Langstieh, Mr Raphaphang Sohliya, Mr Treibor Mawlong and Mr Casper Syiem.

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