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 The River Shella (Umium) Situated on the bank of river Umiam (otherwise called Shella) at the southern slope of Khasi Hills in Meghalaya the village called Shella is exquisitely beautiful. Many educated and established families of the Khasi society have been staying through generations in this village surrounded by orchards of orange, pine apple, jack fruit and areca nut. Before partition of the country in 1947 people of this village used to maintain direct rapport with Sylhet, Dhaka and Kolkata for the purpose of higher education as well as trade and commerce. A large number of tribal people from far away villages take part in the annual fair associated with Sri Sri Chandi Puja at Shella on the Ramnavami Day every year. Many tribal villagers observe several Hindu festivals at their own residence.

 The Ashrama at Shella Swami Prabhanandaji (Ketaki) Maharaj, a dedicated monk of the Ramakrishna Order arrived at Shella and started an Elementary School in 1924. He afterwards founded Ashramas at Sohra and Shillong respectively in 1931 and 1936. The story of his dedication and service has become a legend among the people in the Khasi Hills. It is through the kind help of Ketaki Maharaj that a few tribal gentlemen of Shella village went to Belur Math for being blessed with Mantra Diksha from Sri Sri Mahaprush Maharaj. Many other men and women of this village got Mantra Diksha from Swamis Vijnananandaji, Virajanandaji, Shankaranandaji, Vishuddhanandaji, Madhavanandaji, Vireswaranandaji and others in later years.

 Glimpses of Durga Puja celebrations at Shella

 Local girls prepare for Durga Puja Many devout persons of Shella used to go to Sylhet every year to witness Durga Puja there. But unfortunately being refused to be accommodated in hotels owned by Hindus they were compelled to find shelter in establishments owned by people from the other faith. It is to redress the hardships of the tribal devotees of Shella village that Swami Prabhanandaji started Durga Puja there in 1931. Needless to say the Puja was greatly greated by one and all in the village. Among all the Ramakrishna Ashramas in the North Eastern Region Durga Puja was observed first at Shella only. Whereas tribal devotees through generations have been observing the Puja with utmost devotion several eminent monks also have participated there during the last 75 years. In fine, this Durga Puja at Shella sub-centre of Sohra Ashrama is a well known traditional festival in the entire region of the country.

 Durga Puja at Shella Ashrama This tribal village on the bank of the beautiful rivulet becomes lively with enthusiasm during the days of Durga Puja as well as Kali Puja with Deepavali. Most of the villagers residing outside come back to their respective homes during these Puja days. Music, prayers, devotional songs, mythological dramas, lamps and fire works greatly contribute to delight the people. Children as well as their parents in new clothes are seen everywhere in the village in large numbers. All arrangements of the Puja including dressing of fruits and preparation of cooked Bhoga are done by the tribal devotees themselves. Immersion of the image by the devotees in the evening of Vijaya Dashami through prayers and tears is really a scene to be seen. The Durga Puja celebration by tribal devotees at Shella Ashrama is a peerless and wonderful festival which can claim the wholehearted support and sympathy from the countrymen at large.

 The Ashrama at Shella  The arrival of autumn at Shella



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