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Bihu Dance Festival in Assam - Celebrations and Significance

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Bihu Celebrated on 14th April to 20th April 2020

Bihu is one of the important festivals that are celebrated in Assam. This festival is celebrated with the intention of spreading happiness. Bihu indicates three different types of festivals that are celebrated by Assamese. They are Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu, Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu and Kati Bihu or Kongali Bihu. Bihu is celebrated by all the Assamese, irrespective of different caste, creed, religion, and faith.  Assamese consider Bihu as Assam’s national festival which involves folk dances and songs.​ They use different instruments during the Bihu Festival namely dhol (drum), toka, xutuli, taal, gogona, pepa (made with buffalo horns) and baanhi (flute). Bihu festival is considered incomplete without the melodious folk songs of Bihu and traditional dances. So during this festival, people dress up in a traditional way and perform Bihu Naach.

Bihu name comes from the Dimasa Kacharis language. Bihu is the combination of two words where Bi means 'to ask' and Shu means 'peace and prosperity'. Thus, Bishu has become Bihu by linguistic preferences. Bihu festival is related to farming. The livelihood of People in Assam is mainly dependent on agriculture. They consider Bihu is the most important festival. They consider Brai or Father Shibrai as their supreme god. So, during this festival, they offer the season's first crop to the supreme god and wish for prosperity and peace.  All these three Bihu festivals are celebrated during different time periods. Bihu marks the change of season.  

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Kati Bihu:

Kati Bihu also known as Kongali Bihu celebrated in the month of October. ​So, Kati Bihu is the Bihu of hope, during the time of thrift and short of supplies. At this time, the paddy fields are fully grown and the farmer's granaries are empty. So the people of Assam light Lamps and pray to god for a thriving harvest season.

Magh Bihu:

Magh Bihu also known as Bhogali Bihu celebrated​ in the month of January. Magh Bihu is the Bihu of the feast that is celebrated during the end of our harvest season. Bhogali name is derived from the word Bhog which means enjoyment and eating. At this time, the granaries are almost full. We can find animal fights during Boghali Bihu. Various sports are organized which include buffalo fighting, cockfighting, etc.orms.

Rongali Bihu:

ARongali festival also known as Bohag Bihu celebrated in the month of April during the spring season which indicates the beginning of Assamese New Year. This also indicates the beginning of the Hindu solar calendar's first day. As we celebrate the New Year with different names in different regions Assamese celebrate New Year as Rongali Bihu. On the occasion of New Year, people wear new clothes and prepare Assamese delicacies like Pitha, laddoos, etc. Young girls and boys perform Bihu dance. For the best female performer, they award the title "Bihu Kuwari". During this festival, fields are prepared for paddy cultivation.  In ancient days, this the festival used to be celebrated for a month, now which is limited to seven days. On the first day, Cattle are worshipped. So, it is called as Goru or Cow Bihu.

On this day, people clean their house and the farmers take their cattle to the nearest river or pond and give them a bath. Then they prepare Mah-Haldi paste with turmeric powder and pulses and apply it to their cattle. Then the animals are fondled by twigs of Makhiyati and Dighalati plants. Cattle are allowed to roam freely for the whole day and their ropes are changed and worshipped with traditional prayers and garlands. The cattle are offered with good food as a token of thanks for helping them in the farmland. The next day is followed by Manuh or Human Bihu. On this day, People clean themselves and dress up in new clothes and pray God for the wellbeing of the entire community.

Women in the house prepare special dishes on this day with flattened rice, jaggery, and curd. Traditional clothes worn by Women on the occasion of Bihu are Mekhala, whereas men wear dhoti and gamcha. The third day is considered as Gosai or Gods Bihu. On this day gods statues are worshiped for a happy new year.  As the Rongali Bihu is celebrated in the spring season, we can find flowers everywhere with wonderful weather and people singing and dancing with colorful new dresses. We can find happiness everywhere with full of colors. Thus this festival has got its name Rongali from Rong which means colors. Friends and relatives visit each other exchanging gifts.

On the occasion of Assamese New Year, most of the educational institutes and offices remain closed for a period of three days. Fairs are organized throughout the state.    


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