Bihu is the state festival of one of the most beautiful & serene states of India- ASSAM. This eastern state celebrates 3 types of Bihu; Rongali/Bohag Bihu in April, Kongal/ Kati Bihu in October & Bhogali/ Magh Bihu in January, which signifies the three distinct phases of the farming calendar. Among the Bihus’, Rongali Bihu claims the top position as the occasion is celebrated with much enthusiasm and fanfare throughout the state.
‘Rongali’ comes from the word ‘rong’ or colour which signifies the joy and happiness that this festival brings with it. This festival is celebrated by people from all parts of Assam with gaiety & enthusiasm irrespective of caste, creed or religion, thus making it the most secular festival in the state.
Bohag or Rongali Bihu marks the beginning of the Assamese New Year. This particular Bihu more or less coincides with Baisakhi, Gudi Padwa and Ugadi – festivals celebrated in several other parts of the country to welcome the New Year. The festival is normally celebrated for 7 days, each day having its own significance.
The 7 days of Joy and Merriment is starting from 15th Of April this Year:
Celebrations involve a gathering of the local women in an open field and lighting up the torches. Men folks of the villages play an instrument made from buffalo hornpipe during the occasion.
Assam is an Agricultural state. So, Goru which means ‘cow’ is dedicated to the cows & bullocks which provide them with a means of their livelihood. On the occasion of Goru Bihu, the cattle of the villages are taken to a single water source and thoroughly washed and cleaned with the help of turmeric and black gram paste. The cattle are then offered different kinds of vegetables as food and prayers are offered to thank them for their help in giving the farmers a good harvest. In the evening, the animals are bought back to their shed and are tied with fresh ropes made from tora plants. They are offered a special food item known as ‘Bor Pitha’ made from rice and jaggery.
On the occasion of Manuah Bihu, people clean their homes and have a traditional bath using turmeric. They wear traditional clothes and visit their relatives and seek blessings from the elders. Gifts are exchanged during this occasion and almost every family offers the elders a Bihuwan or the Gamusa cloth as a symbol of respect. Many families write Sanskrit mantras on Nahar leaves and hide it behind the roof. This ritual bears a symbolic significance and is done with the intention of seeking Lord Shiva’s protection from all elements of nature.
On the occasion of Gosain Bihu, the Gods are worshipped and traditional songs are sung in their praise seeking protection and blessing for a good harvest.
People usually visit the houses of their relatives and bond together over a meal and exchange new stories.
It is the day that is reserved exclusively for lovers. The day symbolises love and reproduction. On this day youths meet their beloved and give them gifts usually known as “Bihuwan”.
Mela Bihu is the last day of the celebrations. On this day, during ancient times the king used to participate in a fair along with his subjects. This practice is observed even till this date and fairs are organised in the different part of the states, where people come and participate in large numbers.
Bohag Bihu reflects the rich culture of the Assamese society. Bihu dancers adorn the beautiful Muga attire while dancing to the tunes & rhythm of indigenous Assamese musical instruments like peepa, gogona, dhul, toka, taal, etc.
For most Assamese people, this festive season is the perfect excuse to take a break from the monotonous daily schedule and reconnect with family and friends. And for those who are living elsewhere from the state, like me, this is the perfect time of the year where we travel back to our HOMES….