Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pnar Church Service

I went to church with a friend in Jowai on Sunday, the Presbyterian Church there - it was pretty cool. I definitely didn't bring the right clothes to India for going to church - all the men wore suits and ties if they had them, but I didn't mind that too much. Although when you stand up to sing hymns and you're a head taller than the tallest person in the room, it can be a bit uncomfortable. Fortunately I'm used to being stared at from growing up one of the only white people in an all-black country. I think my friend was a bit more nervous to be sitting next to me, since she lives there and knows how little excuse people need to gossip.

The service was all in Khasi, which is the dominant language spoken in this area. The hymns were in Khasi and there was no percussion to keep time so the singing slowed down to an almost inexorable pace. It was100_0621.JPG neat to be able to pick out some words here and there, and my friend translated some of the verses for me so I could understand what I was singing. The orthography is relatively systematic.

In the evening we went to their cousin's home, which is up on a hill above the river on the outskirts of town (where the picture on the right was taken). We stayed for a home church service led by some of the church elders, which is where the real meat of the Christian culture in Jowai seems to be. Pretty much the whole service, except for a few songs and prayers, were in Pnar, including the sermon. Traditional instruments - a mandolin and tambourine - as well as clapping and harmonies kept the songs upbeat and lively.

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