Review: Ngan Hiar Sha Wah (I am going down to the river)

Source: Rangashankara instagram page

In the debate of what comes first, the art or the artist. It is always the former, for me. The presentation makes me think about the creator. Therefore while reviewing any work, I will give primacy to the creation.

Brief Overview

On 31 October 2021, I experienced, ‘I am going down to the river’ as a part of Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival. It is a map of the Wah Umkhrah that flows through Shillong.

The documentation of Wah Umkhrah is shown through five chapters that chronicle the river through discourse, folk tale, memory of locals, interviews with residents, map of the river through the city and visual tour of the river through the lens of the camera.



About Some Aspects of Khasi Religion

The website derives deep inspiration from the oral traditions of Khasis Pnars. It is important to note that the Khasis do not have any religious text or an institution that runs the religion. All the moral precepts and other prescription of the religion are passed on by word of mouth. Khasis compare life to a dew drop hanging from a leaf. Just as a delicate dew drop glitters and sparkles with all the beautiful colours of the rainbow so also life on Earth. This optimistic voice is important to note especially when one is talking about a grim ecological problem. Therefore, when Khasis voice the plight of Wah Umkhrah, it is critical to understand it’s not a simple outcry to save the river, it is a call for radical effort of saving whatever is left of the river.

As we move ahead in the 21st century, modern social order is less affected by religious institutions but the power of religion on morality could act as a catalyst while delegating individual responsibility to solve this complex problem. One hopes that the Khasis will raise their hands to come together and collectively find sustainable solution for Wah Umkhrah.


Here are more details about the artists who have made this:
Concept, Script and Performance: Lapdiang A. Syiem and Esther Syiem
Design and Technical Team: Juban Lamar and Abigail Nongsiej
Music Composition: Apkyrmenskhem Tangsong and Juban Lamar

Next time it is up for showcase, make sure you witness it live.



theatre artist who wants to write some meaningful prose, occasionally

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Akshay Raheja

theatre artist who wants to write some meaningful prose, occasionally