Mawkyrwat Civil Sub-Division was notified as a fully fledged Civil Sub Division with effect from 26th June, 1982 under Government Notification No. HPL.539/81/51, dated 22nd June 1982. And, whereas, for public convenience and better administration the Governor of Meghalaya considers it necessary to upgrade the said Mawkyrwat Civil Sub-Division of West Khasi Hills District with minor modifications, therein, into a fully fledged District. And whereas, the new District will compose all the villages of two Community & Rural Development Blocks viz. Ranikor Community & Rural Development Block and Mawkyrwat Community & Rural Development Block, including 18(Eighteen) villages under Warsan Lyngdoh Gram Sevak Circle of Nongstoin in Community & Rural Development Block as listed in the Schedule-I to the Notification with the following boundaries:
- North: West Khasi Hills District
- South: Bangladesh
- East: East Khasi Hills District
- West: West Khasi Hills and South Garo Hills District
Now, therefore, the Governor of Meghalaya has upgraded Mawkyrwat Civil Sub-Division into a District Named as “South West Khasi Hills District” with headquarters at Mawkyrwat.
The Khasi people predominantly inhabit the districts of South West Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, also known to be one of the earliest ethnic group of settlers in the Indian sub-continent, belonging to the Proto Austroloid Monkhmer race.
The Khasis inhabit the eastern part of Meghalaya, in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. Khasis residing in Jaintia hills are now better known as Jaintias. They are also called Pnars. The Khasis occupying the northern lowlands and foothills are generally called Bhois. Those who live in the southern tracts are termed Wars. Again among the Wars, those living in the Khasi Hills are called War-Khasis and those in the Jaintia Hills, War-Pnars or War-Jaintias. In the Jaintia Hills we have Khyrwangs, Labangs, Nangphylluts, Nangtungs in the north-eastern part and in the east. In the Khasi Hills the Lyngngams live in the north-western part. But all of them claim to have descended from the ‘Ki Hynniew Trep’ and are now known by the generic name of Khasi-Pnars or simply Khasis. They have the same traditions, customs and usage with a little variation owing to geographical divisions.
The traditional Khasi male dress is “Jymphong” or a longish sleeveless coat without collar, fastened by thongs in front. Now, the Khasis have adopted the western dress. On ceremonial occasions, they appear in “Jymphong” and dhoti with an ornamental waist-band. The Khasi traditional female dress is rather elaborate with several pieces of cloth, giving the body a cylindrical shape. On ceremonial occasions, they wear a crown of silver or gold on the head. A spike or peak is fixed to the back of the crown, corresponding to the feathers worn by the menfolk.
Food & Drinks:
The staple food of Khasis is rice. They also take fish and meat. Like the other tribes in the North-East, the Khasis also ferment rice-beer, and make spirit out of rice or millets by distillation. Use of rice-beer is a must for every ceremonial and religious occasion.
The Khasis, the Jaintias and the Garos have a matrilineal society. Descent is traced through the mother, but the father plays an important role in the material and mental life of the family. While, writing on the Khasi and the Jaintia people, David Roy observed, ‘a man is the defender of the woman, but the woman is the keeper of his trust’. No better description of Meghalayan matrilineal society could perhaps be possible. In the Khasi society, the woman looks after home and hearth, the man finds the means to support the family, and the maternal uncle settles all social and religious matters. Earlier in the conservative Jaintia non-Christian families, however, the father only visits the family in the night and is not responsible for the maintenance of the family. Inheritance: Khasis follow a matrilineal system of inheritance. In the Khasi society, it is only the youngest daughter or “Ka Khadduh” who is eligible to inherit the ancestral property. If ‘Ka Khadduh’ dies without any daughter surviving her, her next elder sister inherits the ancestral property, and after her, the youngest daughter of that sister. Failing all daughters and their female issues, the property goes back to the mother’s sister, mother’s sister’s daughter and so on. The Ka Khadduh’s property is actually the ancestral property and so if she wants to dispose it off, she must obtain consent and approval of the uncles and brothers. Among the War-Khasis, however property passes to the children, male or female, in equal shares but among the War-Jaintias, only the female children get the inheritance
Marriage within a clan is a taboo. Rings or betel-nut bags are exchanged between the bride and the bridegroom to complete the union. In the Christian families, however, marriage is purely a civil contract.
The Khasis are now mostly Christians. But before that, they believed in a Supreme Being, The Creator – U Blei Nongthaw and under Him, there were several deities of water and of mountains and also of other natural objects.