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Bihu Festival in India - Assamese New Year Celebration and Traditions

Updated on August 25, 2011
Bihu festival in Assam
Bihu festival in Assam

Assamese Festival - Bihu

Bihu marks the change of season. This festival is celebrated thrice a year (Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu in April, Bhogali Bihu or Magh Bihu in January and Kongali Bihu or Kati Bihu in October/ November). The Bihus are the national festivals as well as the most important festivals of Assam. It is celebrated with great fun and abundance by all Assamese people irrespective of religion, faith, creed, caste and belief. The word Bihu is derived from the Dimasa kachari language. Dimasa kachari is the tribe which lived in Assam since ancient time.

The Bihus mark three distinct phases of the farming calandar for the native crop of Assam such as paddy.

Bohag Bihu

The most colorful and important of the three Bihu festivals is the Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu (Spring festival). It is the beginning of the agricultural season. Bohag Bihu is also called as the Festival of Merriment and it marks the advent of seeding time.

Since Bohag Bihu also marks the first day of Hindu solar calendar, it can be experienced in states like Orissa, Bengal, Nepal, Punjab, Kerala and Tamil Nadu with different names. On the first day (14th April) of Bohag Bihu is called Cow Bihu or Goru Bihu, it is reserved for cattle rites. On this day, household cattle get special attention, cow is bathed, oil rubbed on their horns and hooves, decorated with colorful flowers and worshipped.

Then on the next day is called human bihu or manuh bihu. They get up, clean up themselves, wear their best new clothes and celebrate the special event with their loved ones. The Bihu meal is very unique which consist of Chira, curds and sweets.

On the 16th April, which is called as Gosai Bihu or Gods Bihu and is reserved for religious services. The idols of God are worshipped with adoration and love in all houses of Assam.

Bihu Dance and Festival in India
Bihu Dance and Festival in India

Bhogali Bihu and Kati Bihu

The Magh Bihu, the harvesting festival is celebrated by community feast, buffalo fight and such oher entertainment. The Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu marks the end of the harvesting period. It is also called as the Festival of Food.

Compared to Magh Bihu and Rongali Bihu, Kongali Bihu is a tame affair celebrated in the month of Kartika. This festival marks the completion of sowing of paddy and transplantation of ‘Kothia’ (the saplings). It is also called as the Festival of the Poor. Kongali or Kati Bihu is often a one-day celebration. By natural means, there is no feasting on this day, but there is special Tulsi Pujas held on this day.

During the festival, people will dance along with the enthralling beats of Dhoi and Pepa. Exchange of gifts like bihuwan, a cheleng, a hachoti, etc also take place between young and elder members of the family. They also wear traditional attires such as Gamocha, Dhoti and Chadar, Mekhala. You can also see beautiful dances performed by young girls and boys featuring brisk stepping, flinging, swaying of hips and flipping of hands, representing youthful passion, reproductive urge and ‘Joie-de-vivre’. Other groups such as the Misings the Deoris and the Morans celebrate Bihu festival with dances of their own distinctive style.

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