The People

The total population of the District is 1,22,436 inhibiting in 206 villages. The District literacy rate as per 2011 census stands at 53%. Majority of the inhabitants of the Sub-Division are economically poor though some portion of the population are wealthy enough and live a life far above the Poverty Line due to the presence of mineral wealth like coal and limestone and other agricultural products. Pnar tribe constituted one of the main tribe residing in the district. Other tribes who live in different parts of the district include Biate, Hmar, Garo, Khasi and War. Pnar language is the common language spoken by the people of the district.


Jaintias are also known as Syntengs and Pnars. Their kingdom was the oldest one and widely spread over the hilly areas of the Jaintia Hills District. The origin of the Jaintia kingdom is unknown. The capital, Jaintiapur, now ruined, was located on the plains at the foot of the Jaintia Hills.


Jaintia people are rich in their cultural heritage. Their culture reflects the traditions, music, dances, art and crafts of Jaintia tribe. The tribe is famous for artistic weaving, wood-carving and cane and bamboo work. These are also the main crafts of the tribe. They are also famous for weaving of carpet and silk and the making of musical instruments, jewelry and pineapple fiber articles. Jaintia men wear Jymphong and dhoti while the women wrap several pieces of clothes so as to give a cylindrical shape. During functions they wear crowns of silver and gold with peak attached at the back of it.


Jaintias are a matrilineal society which is a very rare and unique practice where the children take the identity or family title solely from the mother. Women are very lucky in this way, because they are treated with equal rights but the head of the family is always the father. Amongst the Jaintias, it is the youngest daughter who inherits property and has the obligation to take care and look after the family members incase of any financial or health problems. The main language widely used by the inhabitants of this district is the Pnar language. However official language is English. The other languages speak in the District being the coal mining areas are Biate, Hindi, Nepali, Bengali and Assamese, etc.. The main occupation in the District are coal mining business. However the inhabitant of the southern most part of the District bordering Bangladesh sustained their livelihood by Bettle Nut plantation. Apart from that this District is enrich with other mineral resources with limestone and due to its natural existence ten (10) nos. of Cement plant have been established in the District.

The two most important festivals celebrated by the Jaintias are the Behdiengkhlam festival and Laho Dance festival. Behdiengkhlam festival is held generally in the rainy season of July or August. This festival is also regarded as the most colorful festival of the Jaintias. Laho dance, also known as the Chipiah dance is performed for sheer entertainment. Jaintia Hills offer some of the most stunning natural sights in Meghalaya.


The green surroundings, high plateaus, deep valleys, rambling rivers, and cascading waterfalls are feast for the eyes. Nartiang in the Jaintia Hills is the site of a collection of giant Monoliths, some are among the tallest in the world. There can be found an ancient Durga Temple which was once used for human sacrifice.