"If India was the Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire, the remote North East of that country is its Hidden Jewel" …Tony Howard …Tony Howard
Assam being a land of composite culture reflects a chain of festivals of different tribes throughout the year.
Bihu is Assam's one of the most important festivals. Cutting across the bars of class and caste, it celebrated by all and sundry. There are three such festivals in Assam: in the months of 'Bohaag' (mid April), 'Maagh' (mid January), and 'Kaati' (mid October).
The "Bohaag Bihu" (also called as "Rangali Bihu" or the Festival of Merriment) marks the beginning of the New Year - the seeding time. The "Kaati Bihu" ( also called as "Kongaali Bihu" or the Festival of the Poor) marks the completion of sowing & transplanting of paddies. The "Maagh Bihu" (also called as "Bhogali Bihu" or the Festival of Food) marks the end of the harvesting period. Of all the three the Bohaag Bihu is the period of greatest enjoyment, marking the arrival of spring season.
The Rangali Bihu is a dance festivel. The highlight of this dance is a group of young boys and girls, dancing in separate groups with drums beats & pipes. On its eve, the womenfolk clean the clothes and prepare special Bihu delicacies like 'Chira' & 'Pitha'. The menfolk collect necessary items like 'Tara Pogha' (ropes for the cattle) and vegetables like raw turmeric, brinjal, gourd etc.
Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu (derived from the word 'Bhoga' meaning eating or enjoyment) is celebrated when the harvesting is over. It is a harvest festival. On the eve of Bihu day, called "Uruka", women prepare rice cakes and other refreshments. The most significant part of this day is the building of 'Meji' and feasting at night. The whole night is spent in feasting, merry - making dancing and singing.
Kati Bihu or Kangali Bihu (Poor Bihu) is celebrated at the time when paddy seedlings begin to grow. In the evenings, offerings are made to the 'Tulsi' plant. Little earthen lamps ('Diyas') are lighted at its feet and puja's are offered to God for improved yield of crops.
The significance of this Bihu is more in the villages, where farmers go to their respective fields and light "Akash-Banti" or 'sky-lamp' hanging from a tall bamboo, to ward off pests and other insects.
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