Types of Bihu
The most important and momentous festival of Assam is definitely Bihu. The whole Assam celebrates the charming occasions with smiles, happiness and delight. Three Bihus are celebrated right through the year. The following descriptions will help you to understand the essence and importance of the different Bihus.
Most of the dwellers of Assam, irrespective of their religion and race, celebrate the occasion with their own touch of colors and traditions. The most popular of all the Bihus, Rongali Bihu, marks the commencement of the Assamese New Year and welcomes the spring with both arms wide open.
The occasion is known with innumerable names to various races (Baisagu for Bodo Kacharis, Baikhu for Rabhas, Ali- Ai- Ligang for Misings, Bobhaggio Bisu for Deoris).
The seven days long festival observed cheerfully and with lot of fun all over Assam. The first day is known as Goru Bihu or Cow Bihu. Generally cows are washed and worshipped with lot of devotions. This is followed by Manuh (Human) Bihu, falls generally on 15th April, the New Year. This is the time when city indwellers and village habitants clean themselves up and wear new attires. It's time to get ready for the energetic and sparkling celebrations of the New Year.
The occasion marks the last day of the year and cattle are reverenced. The underlying principles behind worshipping the cows are their nature and importance. They produce milk, help to plough fields and used to transport men. They are the best friends and assets of the farmers.
The cattle are rinsed, tarnished and cleaned with ground turmeric, different pastes and adhesives. Gourd and brinjals are offered to the cows. Assamese sing the traditional and tuneful Bihu songs while cows take foods.
Manuh Bihu, the next day of Goru Bihu, is celebrated on the New Year day. Bihuwan, the traditional Assamese clothes, were gifted to the elder people of the family as a token of appreciation and respect. Children sing and dance wearing new and colorful attires. It's time when people go and greet their near and dear ones. Husoris, the Bihugeets and Carols are sung mainly by the elder people of a particular village. They move to different households while they sing hymn. Various cultural events are planned and staged on the premise of different Bihu pandals.
Kati or Kongali Bihu:
The style of observing Kati Bihu is bit different. It's not all about smiling and spending the festive season, restriction and solemnity are must on this occasion. The Bihu is dedicated to the holy deity, Lakshmi who is the distributor and dispenser of the assets to the mortals. The aspiration of rich harvesting is the key. Kati Bihu marks the completion and end of sowing and transplantation. Puja offerings are made to the Tulsi plant in the evening. The enchanting Diyas enlighten the inner souls. Inhabitants of Assam offer the puja and wish to have quality and improved crops. This Bihu is celebrated mostly in villages where farmers offer lights in their respective fields. These lights are known as “Akash Banti” or "Sky Lamp". Tulsi (Basil) trees are planted on the premise of every household and habitants worship the plant with Diya or an earthen lamp.
Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu
The homes of Assam are decorated to welcome the third Bihu festival of the year. Generally the festival falls on 14th January and is observed on the sankranti of the month. Having foods and enjoying the festive times are the prime objectives of the grand Bihu. Bhogali, the word is derived from the word Bhog, i.e. food. The occasion marks the end of the harvesting season. The mouth watering and delicious delicacies are the charm of this fastidious Bihu. Uruku, the night of the first day, is the time when the grand feast is celebrated with Bhog. Habitants form Bhelaghars or Mejis with bamboo and pieces of woods on their own farmlands or on the adjoining premises. Everyone of the community congregates at a place and takes the pleasure in the luscious and appetizing local foods. Sweets and greetings are exchanged with smiles. The whole night is spent with a blissful mood. Musical instruments like Dhols are played while people enjoy the Bihu songs. People spend the beautiful night together around the Meji. Children engage themselves in playing games. Young and energetic guys wander around the firewood and have fun.
On the next morning everyone fresh themselves up after taking bath and assemble in front of the Meji to burn it. Pithas and betel nuts are thrown in the burning Maji. It is a way of worshipping the Almighty and ending the harvesting year at the same time.
Later on, the half burnt firewood is thrown to the fruit trees for the desired results. Different types of sports like Buffalo fight, Egg fight, Cock fight and Nightingale fight are quite common games which are played all through the day.