- Thursday, 24 April 2014

Bihu Festival, Assam, India

~Contributed by 
Suresh Gogoi (Writer)
Jorhat, Assam

Born in China of Taoist mother Pi-hu, Bihu in Assam has assumed its own Indian identity. Its spirit in Assam is unfading and an ecstasy forever.

Bihu is mainly a festival of harvest and people from all walks of life are overwhelmed with joy of Bihu. Bihu is characterised by beautiful dance, traditional performances, melodious songs and beating of drums. Another quintessential part is baking Pitha made out of rice flour, molasses and sesame seeds. 

Bihu is celebrated three times in a year. Bohag or Rongali Bihu, Kati or kangali Bihu and Magh or Bhugali Bihu are observed in the beginning of the Assamese months of Bohag (mid- April), Kati (mid- October) and Magh (mid- January) respectively.

Origin of Bihu dates back to an era much before Christ. With emergence of Tai civilisation and Taoism in China in B.C. 4,000, this festival, originally known as Pi-hu amongst a fraction of Tai race came into being almost simultaneously in southern China. With migration of Tai Ahom people from southern China to Assam, the Bihu culture spread into Assam. This festival is popularly known as Poi in South East Asian countries. 

The most popular of all Bohag Bihu (mid- April), marks the Assamese New Year. On the first day of the festival cows are anointed with a paste of raw turmeric and urad daal. They are then herded to a nearby pool for bath. Consecrated brinjal, gourd, fruits and momordica are offered. Members of the family perform the famous Bihu Dance to the accompaniment of drums, reed pipe, bamboo clapper, cymbal etc. 

Kati Bihu (mid- October) is a much simpler affair. Lamps are lit in the paddy fields and before holy basil for the whole month. Magh Bihu (mid- January) in contrast is a festival of plenty- preparations of various delicacies is common. 

Bihu is a festival of pomp and pleasure, a festival of exchange of love and affection, of strengthening the ties of brotherhood, unity and fraternity. 

Bihu Dance (Photo Credit: magic-india.com)

PItha (Photo Credit: onlinesivasagar.com)

1 comment:

  1. But the word Bihu is derived from Dimasa language .... Bi means "to ask" and Shu means "peace and prosperity" in the world.