Megh Bihu Festival - Fairs and Festivals in
Originating in the
pre-Aryan days around 3500 b.c., the festival of Bihu used to last for
a whole month, though nowadays work pressure has reduced it to a week.
A no holds barred dancing session is the most intriguing part of the
festival and symbolises the fertility rites of the original
inhabitants of the hilly regions of the northeast in India. The
farmers fancied that the erotic content of the songs would sexually
arouse the earth’s body, leading to an abundant harvest.
Bihag Bihu or Rangoli Bihu, the first of the three Bihus, is
celebrated in the month of April on the dates coinciding with the
sankranti, chait or baisak (13, 14 and 15 April).
According to the solar calendar that the Assamese follow, the New Year
usually falls on 14th April. Brilliantly-coloured flowers and
luxuriant foliage dress the whole of Assam in all the hues of the
rainbow during the month of April. An abundance of kopoful (orchids),
mostly purple in colour, in unusual shapes and sizes dot the trees,
and the bhebel creepers are in full bloom creating an enchanting
kaleidoscope of colours. No one can fault the Assamese his choice of
seasons for the Bihu festivals.
The vivid attire of the Assamese youth and the colourful accessories
like kopoful adorning the hair of the young lasses blend with the hues
of nature, spreading joy and good cheer. The day is marked with
dancing, though restricted exclusively to men, who participate with
unbridled enthusiasm and energy. But the winds of change have blown
through this remote state also. Surrendering to contemporary trends,
youngsters gather in the town centre and learn the steps from an old
hand much in demand on this day.
The second bihu named kati bihu or kangali bihu is held in the month
of kartik (September or October). But there is a world of difference
in the celebration of this bihu from the former. Slowly but surely,
winter is approaching, heralding the season for sowing seeds. This is
a solemn occasion as people worship the deities for a rich harvest.
The young learn to value hard work so that they do not squander money
Predictably enough, this bihu is dedicated to the worship of none
other than Goddess Lakshmi who is the dispenser of wealth to mortals.
As night falls, lamps are lit in the paddy fields where farmers have
toiled through the day. At the end of a hard day’s work, all the
members of a family pray to the benign Goddess for the well-being of
their crop and cattle.
Gabhori bihu falls on the third day of the festival and is earmarked
as the day for young ladies. The fair maidens of Assam look gorgeous
in their muga silk wear and ornate gumkham bracelets. The orchids
adorning the hair of the ladies add a whimsical touch to the formality
of the outfit. Swaying to the beat of the toka (drum) and gogona (made
from bamboo held between the teeth), the women dance the night away
under the gentle breeze of banyan trees. Couplets are created
spontaneously. Starting with a slow tempo, the rhythm builds up to a
The Magh Bihu festival of Assam is celebrated with great fervor by its
entire populace. Characterized by merry making and feasting, this
festival marks the end of the harvesting season when there is
abundance of everything. This is the time when the hard working
agricultural folk of the state sit down to reap the benefits of their
labor. However, it must be pointed out that the Magh Bihu festival is
not limited to the agricultural pockets of the state. Right from the
smallest of villages to the big towns and cities of Assam, people
celebrate this festival with great joy, though it must be mentioned
that the mode of celebration differs from the villages to the cities.
The Magh Bihu is also referred to as Bhogali Bihu or the festival of
food and is celebrated in the month of January. It is the time when
winter sets out on its last course, making way for spring. The night
before Magh Bihu Festival is called Uruka and is characterized by
loads of merry making and community feasts. However, many of the
religious minded folks of Assam choose to fast and pray on this night.
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