Cultural Festivals Folk Dance

Bihu : Rongali Bihu, Kongali Bihu & Bhogali Bihu : The three colourful festivals of Assam

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ॐ श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः ॐ श्री शिवानन्दाय नमः ॐ श्री चिदानन्दाय नमःॐ श्री दुर्गायै नमः 

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Bihu is a set of three important non-religious festivals in the North Eastern Indian state of Assam.Rongali or Bohag Bihu is observed in April, Kongali or Kati Bihu observed in October, and Bhogali or Magh Bihu observed in January.

Magh Bihu Festival in Assam

The Rongali Bihu is the most important of the three, celebrating the colourful spring festival. The Bhogali Bihu or the Magh Bihu is a harvest festival, with community feasts. The Kongali Bihu or the Kati Bihu is the sombre, thrifty one reflecting a season of short supplies and is an animistic festival.

Bihu Festival of Assam

Bihu Festival of Assam

The Rongali Bihu coincides with the Assamese New year as well as with the new year of other regions of East and South-East Asia which follow the Buddhist calendar. The other two Bihu festivals every year are unique to the people of Assam.

Bihu festival & Bihu dance of Assam

Like some other Indian festivals, Bihu is associated with agriculture, and rice in particular. Bohag Bihu is a sowing festival, Kati Bihu is associated with crop protection and worship of plants and crops, and is an animistic form of the festival, while Bhogali Bihu is a harvest festival.

Magh Bihu festival in Assam

Assamese celebrate the Rongali Bihu with feasts, music and dancing. Some hang brass, copper or silver pots on poles in front of their house. Bihu is also celebrated overseas by the Assamese diaspora community living worldwide.

The term Bihu is also used to imply Bihu dance otherwise called Bihu Naas, and Bihu folk songs also called Bihu Geet.

Bihu song & dance of Assam

The Three Bihu festivals of Assam in detail

Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu

Bohag Bihu (mid-April, also called Rongali Bihu), the most popular Bihu celebrates the onset of the Assamese New Year (around 14–15 April) and the coming of spring season.

This marks the first day of the Hindu solar calendar and is also observed in Bengal, Manipur, Mithila, Nepal, Orissa, Punjab, Kerala and Tamilnadu though called by different names in different regions.

It’s a time of merriment and feasting and the festival continues for seven days.

The farmers prepare the fields for cultivation of paddy and there is a feeling of joy all around Assam.

The Assamese women make Pitha, Larus (traditional food made of rice & coconut), various drinks by local tribes such as Chuje by Deoris, Nam-Lao by Tai-Ahom, Aapong by Mising tribe and Jolpan which gives the real essence of the season.

Bathing and worshipping cows known as Goru Bihu in Assam is a part of the Bihu celebrations.

The first day of the Bihu is called Goru Bihu or cow Bihu, where the cows are washed and worshipped.

This is followed by Manuh (human) Bihu, the New Year Day. This is the day of getting cleaned up, wearing new clothes and celebrating and getting ready for the new year with fresh vigor.

The third day is Gosai (Gods) Bihu. The statues of gods, worshiped in all households are cleaned and worshiped asking for a smooth new year.

Bihu dance marks the festival. The folk songs associated with Bohag Bihu are called Bihugeets or Bihu songs. The form of celebration and rites vary among different demographic groups.

Bihu dance of Assam

Kongali Bihu

Kongali Bihu also known as Kati Bihu (mid-October) has a different flavor as there is less merriment and the atmosphere has a sense of constraining and solemnity.

During this time of the year, the paddy in the fields are in the growing stage and the granaries of the farmers are almost empty.

On this day, earthen lamps are lit at the foot of the household Tulsi plant, the granary, the garden and the paddy fields.

In ancient times, earthen lamps were lit all around the paddy fields to attract the insects, thus acting as a natural insectide.

To protect the maturing paddy, cultivators whirl a piece of bamboo and recite Rowa-Khowa chants and spells to ward off the pests and the evil eyes.

In the evening, cattle are fed with specially made rice items called Pitha.

This Bihu is also associated with the lighting of Akaxi Gonga – lamps at the tip of a tall bamboo pole – to show the souls of the dead the way to heaven. 

Kati Bihu is generally celebrated on the 19th of October.

Bhogali Bihu

Bhogali Bihu also known as Magh Bihu (mid-January) comes from the word Bhog meaning eating and enjoyment. 

It is a harvest festival and marks the end of harvesting season.

Since the granaries are full, there is a lot of feasting and eating during this period.

On the eve of the day called Uruka, i.e., the last day of the month of Pausa, menfolk, particularly young men go to the fields, preferably near a river, build a temporary cottage called Bhelaghar with the hay of the harvest fields and lit the bonfire – the most important thing for the night.

During the night, they prepare food and there is community feasting everywhere.

There is also the exchange of sweets and greetings at this time.

The entire night of celebration called Uruka in the local language is spent around a Meji with people singing Bihu songs, beating Dhol (drums) and playing games.

Boys roam about in the dark stealing firewood and vegetables for fun.

The next morning they take a bath and burn the main Meji. People gather around the Meji and throw Pithas (rice cakes) and betel nuts to it while burning it at the same time.

They offer their prayers to the god of fire and mark the end of the harvesting year. Thereafter they come back home carrying pieces of half burnt firewood for being thrown among fruit trees for favorable results.

All the trees in the compound are tied to bamboo strips or paddy stems.

Different types of sports like Buffalo-fight, Egg-fight,  Cock-fight, Nightingale-fight etc. are held throughout the day.

There are other conventional festivals observed by various  ethnic-cultural groups like Me-dam-me-phi, Ali-aye-ligang, Porag, Garja, Hapsa Hatarnai, Kherai etc.

Bihu festival & Bihu dance of Assam
Bihu dance of Assam
Bihu festival & Bihu dance of Assam

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Though academically trained in modern Western Sciences, Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar is a crazy maniac of India's ageless, timeless ethnic arts, crafts & textiles. The rich & glorious cultural & spiritual heritage of India is a subject extremely dear to her heart, and the whole of this Blog has been dedicated to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide, to every nook & corner of the globe, through these simple Blog-posts. Any constructive criticisms & suggestions in this regard for improvement of the Blog 'MOST WELCOME'. Also, High-Quality Guest Blog-posts 'MOST WELCOME". LinkedIn Profile :