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Bihu

Bihu

Category: Festival
Celebrated In: India in Spring Season
Celebrated By: Hindu (Hindu)

The Cheerful Celebrations of Bihu Festival

Bihu is the State Festival of Assam; one of the most beautiful states of India that is well recognised for its beautiful tea gardens, the Brahmaputra River and Lush green forests. Also the state of Assam is well known for the Bihu festival that depicts a set of three different cultural festivals of the state.

The term ‘Bihu’ originated from the Sankrit word that means ‘Vishu’. It is celebrated by the citizens of Assam irrespective of caste, class, creed and beliefs. However Assamese celebrate three different kinds of Bihu festival in three different seasons like, Bohaag Bihu in the middle of April month, Maagh Bihu in the middle of January month and Kaati Bihu in the middle of October month.


Significance of Bihu Festival: 

Surrounded by Blue Mountains and blessed by the mighty Brahmaputra River, Assam holds the glory of being one of the most fertile lands of India. Most of the people earn their livelihood from agriculture; hence the entire society is known as agrarian in nature. Bihu basically celebrates the seasonal changes; hence each of the three Bihu celebrations represents the importance of cultivating different crops of Assam in different seasons.

The word Bihu got its name from a Sanskrit word known as “Bishu’, which depicts the significance of asking god for good fortune during different phases of the harvesting season. Some other sources argue that the festival received its name by combining two different words, namely “bi” which literally means ‘to ask’ and “hu” which means ‘to give’; hence Bihu means to ask god for prosperity and happiness in life which God gives them in terms of good cultivation.

Importance of Bihu in Assam:

Bihu festival gives the people of Assam a unique identity as the cultural significance of this festival makes them stand out in the nation. Bihu is a harvest festival and also the primary function of the state of Assam. In an agrarian calendar, the auspicious festival is observed three times a year. The first one, popularly known as Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu, is celebrated for a period of seven days. Bohag Bihu marks the beginning of spring season when farmers usually prepare the field for cultivation. During this season, feasting and festivity vibes prevails all around in the atmosphere of Assam. The second type of Bihu festival is usually known as Kati Bihu, which is mainly celebrated to seek blessings from the God, praying for good cultivation of crops.

The third one and the last Bihu is known as Magh Bihu, which marks the end of the harvest season. During Magh Bihu, people mostly give emphasise on feasting and rejoicing, as the farmers succeed in cultivating good and healthy crops and they are no longer required to worry about them. Celebrating Magh Bihu holds the significance that they no longer starve for the food as they have enough to lead a happy life.

Bihu marks the Assamese New Year :

Having an agrarian culture, people of Assam largely depend on agriculture and cultivation. Hence, the Assamese New Year falls on the beginning of the harvest season, which is also known as Bohag Bihu. So Bohag New Year usually falls on the last day of the Assamese month of ‘Chait’. People celebrate the occasion of Assamese New Year by adorning new clothes and preparing different mouth watering Assamese delicacies like ‘Pitha’ and ‘Laddoos’. Moreover, various groups of young boys and girls perform the traditional dance of Assam, the Bihu dance; wherein the best female dancer is awarded with the title of ‘Bihu Kuwari”.

In olden days, the Bihu festivities used to be a long celebration that lasts up to one month, however nowadays it is celebrated only for seven days. During these seven days of Bohag Bihu, people clean their houses and wash their cattle and also feed them with good food as a token of thanks for helping them in cultivating various crops. During the festivity, they allow their cattle to roam freely for one day. Then they change their ropes with new ones and after that cattle are worshipped with traditional Assamese prayers by offering them garlands. On the second day of celebration, special prayer is organised in the Namghar or in the prayer hall, wherein people pray for the wellbeing of the entire community.

Special Assamese dish is prepared at home on the occasion of New Year using flattened rice, jaggery and curd. During the Bohag Bihu celebrations, Assamese people usually dress themselves with traditional clothes and traditional jewellery. Women adorn the traditional clothes known as Mekhala, while men dress themselves in dhoti and gamcha. On the auspicious occasion of Assamese New Year, various dance festivals and fairs are organised throughout the state of Assam; with most of the educational institutes and offices remain closed for three days in view of Bihu festival.

Bihu Dance, the traditional dance of Assam:

The festival of Bihu gets the desired lustre and charm with the traditional Assamese Bihu Dance, a vibrant and a colourful dance form. Earlier at the time of Ahom King Rudra Singha, a group of Bihu performers were invited to perform the dance, on the occasion of Rangoli Bihu, in the year 1694 at Ranghar fields. 

The Bihu dance is one of the most beautiful dance forms of India that involves rapid hand and feet movement. There are more roles of the women than the men in this dance form, as they form a tighter line to perform this beautiful dance. However, the choreographer comprises the dance steps keeping both the genders in mind. 


Bihu Sports :

Bihu, one of the key festivals in state of Assam, is usually celebrated in three different names like, Bogah Bihu, kati Bihu and Magh Bihu. Among the three Bihu celebrations, Rangali Bihu (Bohag Bihu) holds a lot of significance as it marks the beginning of spring harvesting as well as the Assamese New Year. The Magh Bihu and Bhogali Bihu involve the celebration of food.

Bhogali Bihu is derived from a word ‘Bhog’, which literally means to eat food. Bhogali Bihu is celebrated in the mid of January, which indicates the final stage of the harvest season. During Bhogali Bihu celebration, a plenty of granary is there, which makes people to rejoice in a great manner by eating extensively and organising feasts. Besides preparing various delicacies, people enjoy playing various sports on this day. Some of those sports include Nightingale-fight, Buffalo-fight, Cock-fight, Egg-fight etc. As a part of having extreme fun, these sports are played for the whole day. During the three Bihu Festivals, Assamese revere Lord Krishna. Bihu is celebrated by almost all the religious groups residing in Assam State, which makes it unique among all the festivals of India. 

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