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Bhogali Bihu - the festival of ingestion and delight

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  11 Jan 2016 12:00 AM GMT


With the advent of new year, the most awaited festival for the entire Assamese community that marks the end of the harvesting season, is Magh or Bhogali Bihu, that falls on the first day of Magh month, or in the middle of January, representing and defining the festival of food where everyone has plenty to eat and enjoy with their near and dear ones.

Known to many as Maghar Domahi, the second most loved festival begins soon after cultivation work gets over, and is known for fulfilling food banquets and merriment. This year too, preparations for celebrating Bhogali Bihu, are on with villages and towns being decorated with structures made of wood or tree leaves, called meji, that are erected at open spaces, on the last day of Puh month of the Assamese month. The people, generally the youths, stay awake the whole night to guard the meji that is burnt by elderly members of a house or society, who after taking bath at dawn, worship the holy fire, as a sign of prayer for the yields which have been collected, by throwing edibles, betel nuts and coconut into the fire. Before the actual day of Bihu, the people across the State, especially the agrarian community, will stay awake the whole night, at bhelaghors, temporary houses that are made out of hay, and would guard the meji , by preparing a grand feast where families and friends will participate to enjoy the night over some delicious food. The youths take pleasure in burning hiloi, that resemble crackers but are made up of bamboo.

Revered as the second most loved festival of the State, Bhogali Bihu , which will be celebrated in a few days, represents the festival of food as it relates to the harvesting season when cultivation in paddy fields gets over and people relax to have good time with rich food. This is the time when people thoroughly take pleasure in gobbling up baked potatoes roasted in the meji fire together with other varieties of potatoes like mitha aloo and muwa aloo. Likewise, on the day of Bihu, guests and family members will be served scks, sweets and various types of jolpan and pithas that have been prepared by the female members of every household to welcome the month of Magh.

The advent of Magh Bihu, speaks of bidding farewell to the winter season, as the sacred flame of the meji is believed to burn away the frosty cold of winter. The unpleasantly cold waves are supposed to be disenchanted by the blaze of the meji, when people offer their prayer early morning to welcome the first day of Magh month. The festival which is mostly enjoyed for its food delicacies is also loved for its traditiol sporting events that have been appealing the people with some customary sports in every corner of the State. The children and elderly across the State enjoy their time by participating in games.

Time-honored games like buffalo fights, cock fights and nightingale fights which still hold immense prominence among the people, are held through the day.

The day of uruka is on January 13 and Bihu on January 14. This year too it is anticipated to be celebrated by the entire Assamese community in the State and across the globe, keeping alive the age-old conventiol carnival of food and sporting games with enthusiasm and the hope that the graries will forever remain full as Bhogali Bihu marks the end of the reaping season, leaving people with lots of good food to consume during the days to come.

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