If you are planning to visit Assam, then this is the perfect time. The trees are ornamented with fresh green leaves and the whole of the land is dipped in the aroma of seasonal flowers.

Yes it’s the time we celebrated Bihu or we can call it as the Assamese New Year. Being an assamese myself, I can never ever express what Bihu is to us. It’s an emotion or mostly beyond emotion.

Basically there are three kinds of Bihu- Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu, Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu and Kati Bihu or Kongali Bihu. Everything about the festival is related to agriculture. Out of the three Bihus, Rongali Bihu is the most fun filled.

Celebrated in the month of mid- January, Bhogali Bihu is festival of feast and end of harvesting season too. It’s a two to the three-day fest and the main aim of the farmers is to thank the almighty for good harvest. People prepare various food items along with ‘Meji’. Meji is a house made of straws, which is set on fire in the early morning of Bihu where people seeks the blessing of God. Magh Bihu is incomplete without Jolpan (snacks, served as breakfast), Pitha (kind of rice cake) and Laaru (made of rice powder, sesame, molasses, and grated coconut).

Whereas Kongali Bihu is celebrated in the month of mid-October. The word ‘Kongali’ itself means scarcity or unavailability. Farmers throughout the month worship Goddess Lakshmi and lights earthen lamps in the paddy field under ‘tulsi’ (basil) plant. Tulsi plant hold a significant place and belief in Hinduism. Like the other two types of Bihu, during this Bihu, Pitha and Jolpan are prepared but not in abundance.

Every bihu that is celebrated has its own meaning and set of values. Like Rongali Bihu is all about expressing joy and showering love for each other and is celebrated in the month of April.

“Otikoi Senehor Mugaare Muhura
Oi Tatukoi Senehor Maaku
Taatukoi senehor Bohagor Bihuti
Oi Nenasi Kenekoi Thaku”

As a true Assamese, it’s really difficult to just ignore and stand still once you listen to these songs. The alleviating music and the beats of Dhul and Pepa automatically attract one to its roots, one no matter how far he stays.

Rongali bihu is observed for 7 long days- Chot, Raati, Goru, Manuh, Mela and Chera. Well let’s not go to the history now. However Goru bihu and Manuh bihu are most popular of all. This bihu is fully dedicated to cattle, as they are an inevitable part of farming. During Goru (cattle) bihu, cattle are washed in the riverside with maah-halodhi (black gram and turmeric paste). Later the owner of cow slowly hits them with a chak (bamboo stick) tied with various vegetables like brinjal, bitter gourd and bottle gourd in the rhythm of a song called-

Dighloti dighal paat,

maakhi maru jaat jaat;

lau khaa bengena khaa,

bosore bosore barhi jaa,

maare xoru baapere xoru toi hobi bor goru” 

Goru Bihu is followed by Manuh Bihu, which is celebrated on the first day of Bohag (Vaisakh). People too take bath with Maah-Halodhi and dresses in new clothes. Mouthwatering food items are prepared to grace the fest. Like Pitha, Laaru, Kumol Saul (staple rice), tel Pitha (fried rice cakes), Sandoh Guri, Chira, Bhoja saul, etc.

The highlight of this festival is the Bihu dance. A must watch folk dance of Northeast! Girls dressed in Mekhela Chador made out of muga silk and boys in dhoti and kurta are a treat to the eyes.  Once you taste the flavor, you are bound to get bewitched.

Northeast in recent years has gained much popularity when it comes to food and its rich culture. Food items of the tribes have really reached to every nook and corner of the world and are loved extensively.

Photography Credit: Dr. Vikramjit Kakati