Bihu Festival: History, Significance

Bihu’s vibrant festival is all about fascinating Gasumas(costumes), musical instruments, and welcoming the new year with the regional folks. The thrice a year Assamese festival is celebrated with intrigue and enthusiasm, which is second to none.  In this article, we are going to discuss the rituals, significance, and importance of the Bihu festival.

What is the Bihu Festival?

The concept of Bihu revolves around the celebration of the harvest. It represents a collection of three different festivals celebrated in three different ‘Mahs.’ It also marks the beginning of the Assamese new year.

The word Bihu means ‘to wish peace and prosperity from God.’ The festival starts with the Choth Mah (April in Gregorian Calendar). The main aim of the festival is to express gratitude for the harvest, rice to be precise.

Bihu is celebrated among Assamese and other northeastern parts of India.

The best part of the festival is that it is celebrated without any sort of caste discrimination.

Types of Bihu

Also Read: Why we celebrate Makar Sankranti?

Types of Bihu:

Bihu are of three different types:

Each one of them has its own significance and represents a different agricultural cycle.

1) Rongali or Bohag Bihu:

Rongali Bihu is the symbol of feasting and festivities.

The first Bihu marks the start of the Assamese New Year.

It is considered to be most important among the other phases.  This seven-day festival starts in the second month of Choth Mah (mid-April).

During Rongali Bihu, the locals express their gratitude for a great harvest season.

i) Raati Bihu: Raati bihu starts on the first night of Chot and lasts till Uruka.

Uruka is the night before Magh Bihu.

This phase is celebrated beneath the shadow of a tree, illuminated by torches.

The local people celebrate Raati by playing their traditional instruments like Pepa, Toka, Gogona, etc.

ii)Chot Bihu:

Chot Bihu starts on the second day of Chot Mah.

People do the famous Bihu dance on the Bihu songs

Jaape dim moie disang ot, dekha dim moie saponat,

Morom dile seneh dim, chithi dile uttar dim…………….

…………….the echoes of the songs are incredibly mesmerizing.

iii) Goru Bihu:

This one is dedicated to giving livestock its well-deserved respect. The cattle are coated with a mixture of turmeric and black gram. After that, they are washed with herbs in a river and decorated with garlands, and fed Pitha.

Songs and dance follow all these rituals.

iv) Manuh Bihu:

The first day of Vaishak. This day focuses on glorifying the pride of the rich Assamese culture. People wear their best outfits made up of Gamosa, which has been given as a gift to symbolize unity and brotherhood. Prayers are done at the Gohai Ghor (household temple).

Traditions include taking blessings from the elderly and blessing the younger ones. Indian culture is definitely respectful.

v) Kutum Bihu:

The second day of Vaishak. Get together is done. Relatives, friends, and families share their quality time with each other and make memories.

vi) Mela Bihu:

As the name suggests, the Mela Bihu is celebrated by attending fairs. The cultural events and competitions just liven up the atmosphere.

vii) Chera Bihu:

This is the final phase of the Rongali Bihu. It’s time to wrap up and move on to future resolutions. Different people in different parts of Assam have their own way of celebrating this one. Usually, it is glorified by the exchange of sweets called Pithas among friends and families.

Bihu Assamese New Year

2) Kongali or Kati Bihu:

Kongali Bihu is the phase of relocation of the rice saplings.

It is celebrated on the first day of Kati Mah (October in the Gregorian calendar). Kati means ‘to cut.’

Kongali Bihu is not as vibrant as compared to the other bihus and is more ‘low key’ in nature.

Since the saplings are growing at the time, rituals and spells are conducted by the cultivators to ward off pests and the evil eye.

Earthen lamps are lit all around the paddy fields to avoid pests and thereby to protect the crops. These lamps are also believed to guide the ancestors, their way to heaven.

The spiritual and medicinal benefits of Tulsi are known to all. It also holds an auspicious place in Hinduism.

The courtyard, where the holy plant of Tulsi is rooted, is washed and cleaned.

Lamps are lit around different parts of houses and mainly around the Tulsi plant.

The holy plant of Tulsi has worshipped the whole Mah. All these worship, all these efforts, all these rituals are done so that the sow of the crops is rich and you and I can eat just like every other day.

3) Bhogali or Magh Bihu:

Bhogali is celebrated in the Pooh Mah. Earlier it was celebrated for a whole month, but in modern Bihu, the celebration has been reduced to a day. This one marks the end of the harvesting season.

The main aim of the celebration is to worship the Fire God by firing a bonfire.

The young people make makeshift huts, which are locally called Meji.

The charm of the festival is amplified by making delicacies and traditional dishes for the feast. Assamese people have their own varieties of delicacies and dishes. Feast rice cakes, Sunga pitha, Til pitha, and Laru are some of them.

Khar is one of the regular dishes for Assamese, which is also included in the Magh Bihu feast. They also hold specialization in rice cakes.

The festival moves further with some really thrilling games. Bullfight and pot breaking are two of them.

The Mejis are burned the very next morning, marking the end of the Bihu Festival.

History Of Bihu:

The concept of Bihu has evolved from the thought of celebrating changes. The day man started agriculture on Assamese land was the day the seed of the Bihu sown. The first day of the new year and the harvest day coincides with the Assamese culture, and thereby, they started celebrating both of them. The start, the progress, the end, they know how to celebrate all of them.

Significance Of Bihu: 

Gratitude-The very pure festival of Bihu signifies gratitude and peace. The people of Assam show enormous gratitude for the harvest they have got and wish to continue the same.

Equality-The festival is open to all regardless of cast, creed, social status, etc.

Anybody can take part in Bihu!

Motivation-All these festivities and feasts indirectly act as a motivation for them. The motivation for literally anything in life. Most importantly, motivation for keeping up the rice production to fill innumerable stomachs.

Now that you have read till here, you must have got one strong reason to visit Assam.

When to go?

Do you love to dance and songs? April(Choth) is the time. If you are more of a spiritual person, go in October (Kati). Love trying new delicacies? January(Pooh) is the month!

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