1 Magis

Bohag Bihu Essaytyper

Type Agrarian Festival Time April Location All over Assam

The lush green paddy fields of Assam

turn a shade brighter during this time of the year. The manicured tea gardens are geared up to produce their first flush of the year. Spring and Assam share a special connection, the one they call Bohag Bihu.

It is believed that the term ‘Bihu’ originated from the language of the Dimasas, one of Assam’s many tribal communities. The words ‘bi’ (meaning: to ask) and ‘shu’ (meaning: peace and prosperity in the world) make for ‘Bihu’, which roughly translates to a celebration meant for the entire state. The Dimasas consider Brai Shibrai as their supreme god and traditionally offer him the first crop of the season, which is sown during this period.

An interesting aspect of this festival is its detachment from religious and caste boundaries. People across the state celebrate Bohag Bihu irrespective of their social status. For most Assamese people, this festive season is the perfect excuse to take a break from their monotonous daily schedule and reconnect with family and friends.

Associated with the agrarian cycle of the state, Bihu is celebrated thrice a year – Bohag or Rongali Bihu in April, Magh or Bhogali Bihu in January and Kati or Kongali Bihu in October/ November. Bohag or Rongali Bihu marks the beginning of the Assamese new year. A general air of enthusiasm propels the farmer to start a new agricultiral cycle as he prays for peace and prosperity throughout the year. This particular Bihu more or less coincides with Baisakhi, Gudi Padwa and Ugadi – festivals celebrated in several other parts of the country to welcome the new year.

‘Rongali’ comes from the word ‘rong’ or colour and signifies the joy and happiness that this festival brings with it. This joy is best expressed in the form of the famous Bihu dance, songs and the general air of merriment that accompany it.

Bohag welcomes spring with a host of myths and legends. One of the most popular and fascinating of these is the legend of Bordoisila. Bordoisila is believed to be the daughter of Assam (the land) and is married to a groom from a distant land. She visits her maternal home once a year during spring. Legend has it that she is in such a hurry to meet her mother that she destroys anything in her path. It is a beautiful reference to the wild wind that eventually brings in the moonsoon. Though different parts of the state have slightly varied versions of this tale, Bordoisila is believed to bring with her Bohag, the spring season for the commencement of a carnival.

Courtesy Assam Tourism

Bohag Bihu celebrations in Assam always feature traditional dances

Celebrated for almost seven days, this festival especially delights one’s taste buds with Assamese food preparations. Pitha (rice cakes), laadu (sweets made of rice and coconut) and the traditional jolpan (breakfast spread) form an integral part of the festival. Every household follows the ritual of serving jolpan to begin the day’s festivities. Bora saul (glutinous rice) along with curd and jaggery teamed with pitha, laadu and tea form a part of this elaborate breakfast.

Though the revelries carry on for almost a month, the first day of the festival is devoted to the cattle of the state and goes by the name of Goru (meaning cow) Bihu. This day involves a special ritual of bathing and feeding the cattle. In an agrarian society like Assam, the additional support given by cattle in the farmlands is significant.

The rituals for the day begin early in the morning. Cows in the household are given a bath and a paste made of turmeric and other such ingredients is applied on them while singing traditional Bihu geet relating to health, growth and productivity of livestock.

Anupam Nath

A smorgasbord of Assamese delicacies served the traditional way

The second day of the festival is when the entire community wears new clothes to celebrate the new year and seek blessings from their elders. The day begins with jolpan and elders gifting gamucha (traditional cotton towel) to the younger memebers of the family.

The third day of this festive season is called Husori. Although the fetivities on this day are not observed in urban conglomerations anymore, they can still be witnessed in rural Assam. Groups of men form a band and go around the village performing folk songs while seeking blessings from the elders. The elders, in return, offer them betel leaf and areca nut as token of appreciation.

It is believed that Husori is infact an evolved art form. Spring brought with it a spell of harvest and the blooming kapou flower added to the beauty of this picturesque setting. The young members of the village composed short and concise Bihu songs and added crisp hand movements giving birth to what we today call the Bihu dance. People performed this dance to show their gaiety and zeal. Eventually, they started taking these songs to the streets or crossroads of the villages. Gradually, Bihu geet became part of public performances, which also meant that objectionable words and phrases were removed to suit the audience. Thus, Bihu, the song and dance, became popular and the art form came to be known as ‘Husori’.

Festivities carry on for almost a week to one month in the villages. These days stage performances are organised to entertain people with popular music and Bihu geet. This is referred to as Bohagi Bidaai that literally translates to bidding farewell to spring.


In Guwahati

The Radisson Blu Hotel (Tel: 0361-7100100; Tariff: ₹8,500–25,000) on NH37 in Gotanagar is the only five-star property here. Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok (Tel: 2602281-84, 2602287-88; Tariff: ₹4,500–15,000) is a four-star property on MG Road, located by the banks of the River Brahmaputra. So is Hotel Dynasty (Tel: 2516021, 7120055; Tariff: ₹5,500–25,000) in Lakhtokia area.

Rains Inn (Cell: 09957223131; Tariff: ₹2,971–3,876) is an eco-friendly hotel in Paltan Bazaar. Its restaurant serves good local cuisine. Government owned Prashanti Tourist Lodge (Tel: 2544475; Tariff: ₹999–2,257) near RBI on Station road is a decent budget option.

Guwahati’s cosmopolitan nature also reflects in the city’s restaurants that serve a variety of cuisines. Try the Assamese food served at Paradise Hotel or Khorikaa Restaurant, both local favourites. Naga Meez and Naga Kitchen are popular restaurants as well. Those in the mood for Chinese food must look no further than these three – China-town, Chung Fa and Confucius. For north Indian food, you can go to The Dhaba. For desserts, head to Loyan’s and Patisserie Opera, both of which are amongst the well-known bakeries in town.


To Guwahati

Air Guwahati’s Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport located at Borjhar (25km/ 30–45mins/ ₹600 for a trip) is connected to major cities and the rest of the Northeast

Rail Guwahati Junction, the major railway station of Guwahati, and the Kamakhya Junction are well-connected. Taxis and auto-rickshaws are available outside the station

Road NH31 connects the city to the rest of the country while NH37 connects Guwahati with almost all major cities of the state Bus ASTC operates buses to various cities in the state. From Paltan Bazaar Bus Stand (Cell: 09957563033) there are connections to many desti-nations in the Northeast


Tourist offices

Directorate of Tourism

Govt of Assam

Station Road, Guwahati

Tel: 0361-2547102, 2544475 W assamtourism.gov.in

Tourist Information Centre

Assam Tourism

LGBI Airport

Borjhar, Guwahati. Cell: 09435796317

Assam Tourism Development Corporation

Asom Paryatan Bhawan

AK Azad Road, Paltan Bazaar, Guwahati

Tel: 2633654, 2738620

W assamtourismonline.com

STD code 0361

April FestivalsAssamBohag Bihufestivals of IndiaOT Getaway Guides

Bohag Bihu or Rangali Bihu also called Haat Bihu (Assamese: ব’হাগ বিহু, Hindi: बोहाग बिहू) (seven Bihus) is a festival celebrated in the state of Assam and north eastern India, and marks the beginning of the Assamese New Year. It usually falls on April 13, historically signifying the time of harvest. It falls on April 14 in 2016 ...[1] It unites the population of Assam regardless of their religions or backgrounds and promotes the celebration of diversity. In India it is celebrated seven days after Vishuva Sankranti of the month of Vaisakh or locally 'Bohag' (Bhaskar Calendar). The three primary types of Bihu are Rongali Bihu, Kongali Bihu, and Bhogali Bihu. Each festival historically recognizes a different agricultural cycle of the paddy crops.[2] During Rangali Bihu there are 7 pinnacle phases: 'Chot', 'Raati', 'Goru', 'Manuh', 'Kutum', 'Mela' and 'Chera'......

  1. Raati Bihu (ৰাতি বিহু): This phase begins on the first night of month of Cheitra and lasts till Uruka. This phase was usually performed beneath an ancient tree or in an open field illuminated by burning torches. It was celebrated in the Chowdang villages and was meant as a gathering for the local women. The participation of men was mostly ceremonial where they played a pepa i.e. a buffalo hornpipe. Another notable musical instrument played in this phase was the bholuka baahor toka which is a split bamboo musical instrument.
  2. Chot Bihu (চ'ত বিহু): Also called Bali Husori, this phase begins on the second day of the month of Cheitra. On this day Bihu songs and dances are organized by the young at outdoor locations, fields or a naamghor bakori (yard of community prayer hall) till the occurrence of Uruka, the formal beginning of Rongali Bihu.
  3. Goru Bihu (গৰু বিহু): This phase is related to the agricultural roots of Assam and the reverence of livestock which provided an ancient method of livelihood. On the last date of Cheitra month or the day of Sankranti, the first day of Rongali Bihu is dedicated to the caring upkeep of livestock and a cattle show. Typically the collective cattle of a village are brought to a water source like a pond or a river. The cattle are washed with a combination of symbolic herbs : maah-halodhi (black gram and turmeric paste), whipped dighloti (litsea salicifolia, a plant with long leaf), makhioti (flemingia strobilifera, a plant with flower like soft plastic butter-fly) and pieces of lau (bottle gourd) and bengena (brinjal). People sing the following passage: "Dighloti dighal paat, maakhi marru jaat jaat; lau khaa bengena khaa, bosore bosore bardhi jaa, maare haru baapere horu toi hobi bor bor goru" . This is roughly translated as  : "With our herbs and the leaves of dighloti, we drive away the flies which disturb you; we hope you accept our offering of brinjals and gourds, and continue to grow every year; and may you outgrow your parents". After washing the cattle, the remaining branches of dighloti-makhioti and lau-bengena chat etc. are hung on the roof of the cattle ranch signifying their participation. Games are organised which include collecting exho ebidh haak (101 types of vegetables), with variations of activities which may include specifics like gathering amlori tup (larvae of weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina), binding betel leaf plants, planting some bamboo roots, and many other symbolic harvest related ritual materials. There is also an occasional food fight, also known as Kori Khel, Paakha Khel andkoni-juj. At Dusk, the cattle are paraded back to their ranches. The cattle are decorated with new harnesses, dressed in garlands, and are fed pitha (the typical Assamese confectionery). The day's end is marked by burning rice bran to create smoke.
  4. Manuh Bihu (মানুহ বিহু):The first day of the Vaisakh month marks Manuh Bihu ('Manuh' symbolises "Elders"). . People have a special maah halodhi bath, put on new clothes and light chaki at Gohai Ghor (the household prayer place). "Manuh Bihu" involves the tradition of seeking blessings from the elders in a family and presenting the ceremonial patch of Bihuwan or the Gamusa cloth, as a gift, to be worn as a symbol of cultural pride. A 'Gamusa' is an indispensable part of Assamese life and culture with its distinctive symbolic significance. The intricacy of its handcrafting symbolically historically heralded of the ideas of friendship, love, regards, warmth, hospitality and it is intimately woven into the social fabric of Assam.
  5. Kutum Bihu (কুতুম বিহু): The second date of Visakh is Kutum Bihu ("Kutum" symbolises "Kin"). On this day people visit their families, relatives and friends and have lunch or dinner together and share news and stories.
  6. Mela Bihu (মেলা বিহু): The third day of Bihu is marked by the celebration of Bihu with cultural events and competitions in outdoor locales (Mela symbolises "Fair"). In the ancient days, the King and his staff used to come out to such fairs or bihutolis to mingle in the Bihu celebrations. This tradition of events is continued till date with Bihu Melas or Bihu functions. The fairs are attended by people from all over Assam and are aimed at fostering an atmosphere of the communal brotherhood and the inclusion of everyone.
  7. Chera Bihu (চেৰা বিহু): Also called Bohagi Bidai, Faat Bihu it is the fourth and final day of Rongali Bihu. In different regions of Assam, people celebrate it differently but the common theme is wrapping up the celebrations with contemplation and future resolutions. It is marked by the exchange of Pithas made by different families during the Bihu week among their friends and relatives.


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