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Predominantly tribal, the original inhabitants of this state are Khasis, Jaintias, and Garos. Khasis and Jaintias trace their descent to the Mongolian race, while the Garos belong to the Tibeto-Burman race.

Their cultural traits and ethnic origins remain distinctive, mainly due to their geographical isolation. The Khasi language spoken here is believed to be one of the few surviving dialects of the Mon-Khmer family of languages in India.

A common cultural tradition of all the tribes of Meghalaya is the matriarchal law of inheritance by which custody to property and succession of family position runs through the female line, passing from the mother to the youngest daughter, instead of the male line as is common elsewhere in the country.

Short, muscular, and robust, the tribal people of Meghalaya are sociable, cheerful, hardworking and great lovers of music and beauty. The common food of the people is rice with meat and fish. Rice beer is a favorite drink among the men folk.

The majority of the population here has converted to Christianity, while non-Christians continue to worship, and practice old cultural beliefs. Colorful dances and festivals of the tribal folk vary according to the region and tribe to which they belong.

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