Bihu is the national festival of Assam. It is the biggest festival that Assam celebrates which brings a sense of solidarity and unity among the people.It comes thrice a year and marks the changes in the seasons.The assamese people celebrate 3types of Bihu's. The Bihu festival signifies a celebration of farming, especially paddy. Rongali Bihu marks the beginning of sowing of seeds, the Kati Bihu marks the completion of sowing and transplantation of the saplings and finally Magh Bihu marks the advent of the harvest period.Bohag Bihu, is celebrated in mid-April, the Magh Bihu, held in mid-January, and the Kati Bihu is celebrated in mid-October. The three are connected with the spring, winter and autumn seasons respectively.
Bhogali Bihu is celebrated in mid of January, on the first day of 'Magh' month of Assamese Calendar.The celebrations of Bhogali bihu starts one day before the actual day, i.e., on the last day of the month 'Puh'. On this eve, people build 'Meji', a structure made of wood or tree leaves, that is to be burnt on the actual Bihu day. This Meji is guarded whole day night by all the people of the village. To stay for the night, people build temporary houses called 'Bhela Ghar'. These houses are usually made up of hay. There used to be grand feasts for the people staying in the bhela ghar that night. The feast is called 'Bhoj'. Even if you are not staying in Bhela ghar,few families cook together and share the dinner.
On the actual day of Magh Bihu, everyone takes bath at the dawn itself and proceed to the meji. The Meji is lit up by one old member of the society or village. All the villagers get together in the Meji and complete many rituals. Various types edibles like coconut, betel nut, etc. are worshiped to the Meji, i.e., to the Hindu God of Fire (Agni Devta). Various types of potatoes, mitha aloo, muwa aloo, etc. are roasted in the large fire of meji and everyone eats from children to old people eat it. Youths also enjoy with cracker like thing made of bamboo called 'Hiloi'. Magh Bihu is celebrated at a season when winter is about to go. It is believed that the fire of Meji burns the winter out!
Its like just yesterday, when as kids we used to visit our grandparents house every Bihu and celebrate it with them.We tried to make "Meji"(all cousins together). But the main attraction was the village meji, which was very huge and our uncles and elders of the village used to make. But we had to bath before lighting it(that was the worst part).Its very cold in January and you have to bath at around 4-4.30am to burn or go near the meji.
Various types of snacks are made and every Assamese lady try to make some traditional snack on Bihu. Though we may not stay in Assam during Bihu, but all Assamese people celebrate it same enthusiasm all over the world. Even in Kuwait we celebrated it with lot of passion and fervor though the weather was gloomy and drizzling. Ladies made so many snacks that when my sisters and cousins saw the pictures in Facebook, they said they didn't make half of what we all made.We did all what we do in Assam but only "meji" was missing.
Like all other Bihu, Magh Bihu also has the ritual of showing respect the the elder one with Gamosa.
But the celebrations don't just stop here. There are various types of traditional sports where from children to old people participate. Amng them, the most popular one is egg-fight. It is played across assam in evry corner from villages to towns. There are some traditional sports involving pets, animals etc. These sports are now localized to some places now a days. The most thrilling among them is the Buffalo-fight. Another popular one is bird-fight. The birds may vary from cock, hen to nightingale etc. Even in Kuwait we organised lot of games for old and young.
Pictures of Bihu celebration in Kuwait will follow in the next post.