Bihu is the main festival of Assam. It is celebrated in Assamese community all across the globe. There are three Bihu festivals viz Bohag Bihu, Magh Bihu and Kaati Bihu. All the three Bihu variance are related to farming ode. It is the season of flute and “dhool” along with the sweet tune of “Pepa” – It is a musical instrument, mostly short and is craved out of bamboo or Reed with the opposite end capped to the Buffalo horn. Amidst all socio economic problem and terrorism surrounding the heart of this state; it is the only time when we see the whole region dancing to the melancholy tune of the Bihu songs and rituals.
It is to be noted that the word “Bihu” has a mythological significance. It has been derived from the Dimasa language (A sect of Assamese indigenous) that has been an inseparable part to the history of Assam. Brai Shibrai is the supreme Almighty and the first seasonal crop is offered to Him being the “Father” to the farming tradition. This act of offering is done to ask for blessing and harmony from the “Father”. The word BI means “ask” and SHU means “Blessings and Harmony” hence the word “BISHU”. As every primitive word has been moulded to suit the linguistic transition, the word BISHU became Bihu evidently.
There are three types of Bihu owing to the three seasons of cultivation and farming. Each of them has their own significance. Let us see what each of them signifies.
It is the most important of all the three variances. It is celebrated in the month of Baisakh (April Mid) or regionally called the “Bohaag”, hence the name Bohag Bihu. The whole Assamese community asks for blessings and harmony and offer their first crop of the season to the Farming God Brai Shibrai. It is the start of the Farming season and the festive mood is all around for almost a month. The vibrant colors of spring add more fun to the celebration and hence it is also called “Rongali Bihu”. This is the only time when the complete state of Assam irrespective of their caste, creed and community unifies in the feeling of love and brother hood and hence can be accredited as the secular festival of peace and prosperity.
Bohag Bihu is celebrated for core 7 days which extends till “Bohagi bidai” depending upon the natural climate and social conditions. Each of the seven days are meant for seven different aspects:
Day 1 : Goru Bihu – The Cattles are worshiped, bathed and fed delicious food. New ropesa re tied to them. They are freed and allowed to roam whole day on their won.
Day2: Manuh Bihu – Elders and Teachers are shown respect and offered “Gamosha” and Cheleng. The juniors and children ask for their blessings.
Day3: Hat Bihu – Husori (Chorus) is sung across houses and villages in groups all across Assam. They dance Bihu and visit house after house making merry and accepting any offerings mostly beetle nut and gamusha.
Day4: Senehi Bihu – Senehi Bihu is the day of love and make merry.
Day5: Maiki Bihu
Day6: Rongali Bihu – The day of color and enjoyment.
Day7: Sera Bihu
It is in this season that lovers have the full freedom to express their love for each other. They tease and sing songs to their beloved ones. The traditional Assamese dance is also carried out by groups who visit every home in the locality, collecting blessings to and from all. It is worth mentioning here that it is in this part of the season where a boy asks for the girls hand to her parents. In most of the cases the discussion is quick and fast marriage is accredited to the new couple. Being in the region at this point of time is the best ever experience one can have about Assam. It’s all about love, peace and harmony.
As the name suggests this Bihu is celebrated in the month of “Maagh” (January Mid). It marks the end of harvesting month in the month of January – February. It is celebrated as the time for feast and make merry. It also has the “Makar Sakranti” as a parallel festival celebrated all across India. Magh Bihu is celebrated for about a week and is marked by making Meji and bonfires. Meji are temporary make shift of Hut made from bamboo, dried leaves and grain stems. The community prepares feast and then have them inside the Hut. This festival is also called Bhogali Bihu. Then next morning all people take bath and then return back to the meji and burn it. Along with burning of Meji many local games such as “Egg Breaking”, Bull fight etc are also carried out.
It is celebrated in the month of Kartik and has a different flavour and tune to it. It is not a celebration but a time to embark the solitude and tough times of the farming culture. The rice in the fields is half grown and the stocks preserved have almost dried up. It is hence also referred to as Kongali Bihu, which signifies bad financial times. Earthen lamps, more popularly called “Saaki” are lit and placed on the threshold of the house, mostly before the tulsi plant. A few of them are also placed near the granary and among the paddy fields so as to protect the plants from evil vibes and bad eyes. The farmers recite “rowa-khowa” chants and spells to ward off evil spirit which can harm the cultivation.
By evening a special rice item called “Pitha” is prepared and fed to the cattle embarking the love of a farmer for his cattle even during bad times. This Bihu also has a connection to spiritual abode. Many people light the tip of tall bamboo tree cut to make a pole in order to show light to the souls of the dead relatives and known persons for the way to heaven. It is quite similar to almost all communities in Asia and Europe where during this month lights and candles are lit to show respect to the forefathers and pay homage to the lost ones.
Following are some of the famous Bihu videos. The original owner owns the copyright of the respective video. It is provided only for information purpose.
Following are some of the famous Bihu Songs from the land of Assam.