Pradeep Pattanayak

There are many such villages in India that are known for practicing some unique and weird traditions. One such village is Kongthong in Meghalaya. 

When you come to know about the villagers’ age-old tradition of calling people, you are sure to be taken aback. 

Here people are called not by their names but by a specific tune or sound. 

Due to this, the village has earned the moniker of ‘Whistling village’. Kongthong village is located in the East Khasi Hills district, about 60 kilometres away from Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya. 

The village is inhabited by 500 to 700 people. All of them belong to Khasi tribe and they speak Khasi language, a speaking language. But here, the villagers never call each other by a name. Instead, they use a specific tune assigned to a particular person to call him/her. 

The tradition that has been passed down to the villagers for generations is that a mother instead of giving a name, assigns a unique tune to her child. Because of this, the villagers here call each other by uttering those tunes. 

The tunes are of two types- short tunes and long tunes. The short tune is used in the village or home.
 These unique tunes are called ‘Jingrwai Lawbei’, which in Khasi language means ‘melody sung in respect of the root ancestresses. 

When a person dies, the unique tune assigned to him/her also dies. The villagers can’t say when the tradition started but one thing they are sure is that the tradition is an age-old one.