The small and sleepy little town of Tura, Meghalaya, comes alive every year during Christmas and New Year. This valley is nestled in West Garo Hills, Meghalaya, below the foothills of Tura Peak. It is 220 km from Guwahati. Shillong is 323 km away and can be accessed via buses or the shuttle helicopter service.
Brightly lit reindeers added more holiday cheer!
In December 2003 the tallest Christmas tree of the world (at 119.3 feet) was erected at Dobasipara, Tura, by the Baptist boys of Dobasipara. This was covered by BBC and widely broadcast on television. The tree was decorated with 16,319 coloured light bulbs and took almost 14 days to complete the decoration.
Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?
Beautifully decorated trees with lights can be seen in and around the town from late November onwards. This grand occasion is filled with social gatherings of family and friends, dinner parties, door-to-door Christmas carols, church cantatas, midnight services and a lot of dancing till the wee hours of the morning.
Lanterns illuminate the street
A Christmas selfie with the Christmas tree is a must!
Garo people enjoy their festive meals. Traditional Garo food includes boiled rice, different preparations of pork, beef, chicken and dry fish. The common delicacies are Wak Pura (pork cooked with crushed rice), Kapa (meat fried with soda and boiled with fresh garden spices), Gominda Wak (pork cooked with pumpkin) Nakam Bitchi (dry fish made with chillies and soda), Chambil Wak (pork made with a type of citrus fruit) and many more.
Sakkin Gata, made with sesame seeds, rice powder and sugar
Special Christmas delicacies include rice cakes called Sakkin (made with locally grown sticky rice and sesame seed) and pitta (made with crushed sticky rice and jaggery).
Winter town magic!
Another important festival celebrated by the Garos is Wangala – a harvest festival during the month of November. People dress up in colourful traditional attires (Dakmanda, Daksari or Gando) and dance to the beats of a hundred drums (dama). Winter festivals are also organised during mid-December throughout Garo Hills, showcasing some of the best talents on stage.