Explore The Enchanting Bihu Festivals Of Assam: A Cultural Journey Through The Colourful Tapestry Of Bihu

Discover the magic and vibrancy of the famous Bihu festival of Assam. Dive into the colourful tapestry of music, dance, and heritage, and unveil the enchanting essence of this unique celebration.
Explore The Enchanting Bihu Festivals Of Assam: A Cultural Journey Through The Colourful Tapestry Of Bihu

Celebrated with great fervour and enthusiasm, the famous Bihu festival of Assam is the very essence of the state. It epitomizes the cultural identity of Assam and instills a sense of communal spirit.  

There are three different types of Bihu festivals: 'Bohag Bihu', observed during the month of 'Bohag' (Baisakh, typically mid-April); 'Magh Bihu', observed in 'Magh' (mid-January); and 'Kati Bihu', celebrated in 'Kati' (Kartik, mid-October).

Each of the three Bihu festivals of Assam carry its own cultural significance and is marked by unique traditions, customs and flavours.

1. Rongali Bihu (Bohag Bihu):

Out of all the three Bihu festivals of Assam, Rongali Bihu, also known as Bohag Bihu, is the major one that marks the Assamese New Year and the beginning of the agricultural season. Celebrated in mid-April, it symbolizes renewal and fresh starts.

The air echoes with the lively tunes of traditional instruments like the dhol, pepa, and gogona, as people participate in spirited and traditional folk dances like the Bihu dance.

Preparations for Rongali Bihu start weeks in advance. Homes are adorned with vibrant decorations, friends and family gift each other “gamusa” as an honorary felicitation.

The first day of Bohag Bihu is referred to as Goru Bihu where the villagers wash their cattle with turmeric and black gram paste, and then feed them vegetables in appreciation for their role in the bountiful harvest.

One of the integral parts of this Bihu festival of Assam is its feasting nature. Mouth-watering delicacies such as pitha, doi, and an array of sweets are eaten, adding flavour to the festivities.

The festival also signifies the bonding of families and communities, as people come together to share laughter, stories, and blessings for the year ahead.

2. Kongali Bihu (Kati Bihu):

Another type of Bihu festival of Assam is the Kongali Bihu, also known as Kati Bihu, which takes on a more solemn tone compared to the high-spirited celebrations of Rongali Bihu. Falling in mid-October, Kongali Bihu coincides with the lean period between the harvest and sowing seasons. It symbolizes a time of austerity and introspection.

During Kongali Bihu, people engage in prayers and rituals to seek blessings for a bountiful harvest and protection from natural disasters. A distinctive ritual involves lighting earthen lamps (diyas) and placing them around paddy fields and homes to ward off evil spirits and pests.

Unlike the lively festivities of Rongali Bihu, Kongali Bihu is relatively subdued, with prayers offered to deities for prosperity and well-being. The focus shifts from revelry to reflection, emphasizing the cyclical nature of life and the importance of resilience in the face of adversity.

3. Bhogali Bihu (Magh Bihu):

Bhogali Bihu, also called Magh Bihu, joyfully marks the end of the harvest season. This Bihu festival of Assam is observed in mid-January, and coincides with the end of the winter solstice and the arrival of longer daylight hours, symbolizing the victory of light over darkness.

At the heart of Bhogali Bihu lies the grand feast known as ‘Bhogali’ or ‘Uruka’. Communities gather to relish an extravagant spread of traditional delicacies.

The highlight of this feast is the preparation and enjoyment of pithas and various meat dishes, particularly pork, chicken, and fish, signifying abundance and prosperity.The traditional breakfast of this festival is called “Jalpaan” and typically consists of doi-chira, jaggery, and bora saul.

During Bhogali Bihu, young men and boys build eye-catching makeshift huts called ‘meji’ or ‘bhelaghar’ using bamboo and thatch. People gather around these structures (which are later burnt to make bonfires) to sing traditional songs, perform dances, and partake in games and merry-making throughout the night.

These bonfires serve both practical and symbolic purposes: they provide warmth during chilly nights and symbolize the purging of past sorrows and challenges.

Bihu Festival of Assam- FAQs:

A. When will Bohag Bihu be celebrated this year?

-  Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu will be celebrated from 14th April till 20th April 2024.

B. How many types of Bihu festivals are observed in Assam?

-  There are three types of Bihu festival in Assam. They are Rongali Bihu (Bohag Bihu), Bhogali Bihu (Magh Bihu) and Kongali Bihu (Kati Bihu).

C. What is Uruka?

-  The night before Magh Bihu is known as Uruka.

D. What is the significance of Bihu festivals of Assam?

-  Bihu festivals hold immense cultural significance in Assam, symbolizing the rhythm of life and the agricultural cycle. They foster community bonds, celebrate abundance, and honour tradition, reflecting the state's vibrant cultural heritage.

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