Bihu festival is an Assamese festival and is considered as one of the most prestigious cultural festivals of this region. It celebrates the change in harvesting seasons of Assam.
Three common types of Bihu are celebrated at different times of the year. These three types include the Bohag or Rongali Bihu which occurs in April, Kati or Kongali Bihu is celebrated in October while Magh or Bhogali Bihu is observed in January.
This is a vibrant and beautiful festival which is characterized by color, dance, and music.
Types of Bihu
As mentioned earlier, there are three types of Bihu which are celebrated during different harvest seasons of the year. Let us understand the meaning behind each type of Bihu.
Rongali Bihu: This is the main type of Bihu which marks the New Year in Assam. It is celebrated in April and is the most important Bihu out of all the three festivals. Goru Bihu symbolizes the first day of Rongali Bihu. On this day, cattle and livestock are taken to a nearby pond or river by the farmers to bathe them. This is considered a sacred ritual the Assamese people. After this, they make a paste of pulses and turmeric powder which is known as Mah-Haldi and apply it to the livestock. Then the animals are fondled using the twigs of Dighalati and Makhiyati plants.
Kati Bihu: Also popularly known as Kongali, this part of Bihu occurs in October wherein Bodo people from Assam pray to God by lighting lamps for a prosperous harvesting season.
Magh Bihu: This is celebrated in January, and it symbolizes the end of the harvest season.
Why is Bihu celebrated?
Assam is located in the Northeastern region of India, and it is characterized by Blue Mountain and fertile land. The mighty Brahmaputra River is the source of water for irrigation in this region. Agriculture is the prime occupation of the area, and most people are agrarian by nature. Bihu is celebrated to mark the change of seasons. The three Bihu celebrations throughout the year are associated with important aspects and phases in the farming calendar of this region.
Bihu is considered to be a harvest festival which marks the shift in the solstice of Sun. When the Sun enters a transitory phase and moves towards the North, it has a significant impact on crops and agriculture. This is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and fervor in Assam as well as across the nation.
How did the name of this festival come up?
Bihu word is derived from Bishu which means that people pray for prosperity to Gods during important phases of the harvesting season. Some people believe that the festival’s name is derived from two words, i.e., bi meaning to ask and hu means to give. Bihu is a combination of these two words.
Celebrations during Bihu: Folk Bihu songs and traditional dance characterize this festival. During this time, people wear the best traditional attire, and they perform a dance known as the Bihu Naach. Traditional music instruments such as Bianchi, TokaXutuli, Gogona, and Dhulare played. Sports are organized which includes animal fighting and other sports.
It is a prime festival of Assam, but is widely celebrated across the nation. It is mainly associated with the agrarian society of the state and their culture, and it marks the start of the Assamese New Year as well as the harvest season. Celebrations are really fun and exciting in this festival.