This harvest festival is celebrated thrice a year. Impressive and very own dance forms and magical tunes of folk music create a soothing and charming environment for the natives and tourists. It’s an occasion when everyone congregates and dances with the tunes of Bihugeet. There are no religion barriers.
HISTORY OF BIHUThe state of Assam celebrates the most important festival, Bihu, with a lot of delight and joviality. The carnival which is celebrated with passion and vehemence marks the change of season. The history of the significant and noteworthy celebration dates back to 3500 B.C. At that point, it was one month long celebration. However, today it is celebrated thrice a year and each time for a week. The first Bihu is celebrated in April.
It overlaps with the festivals like Chait, Baisakhi and Sankranti.
People of Assam propitiate and thanks the Almighty for bountiful harvest. Astounding Assamese dance forms accompanied with Bihugeet (folk songs) mark the essence of the pleasurable and congenial occasion.
The dance forms which are the souls of the traditional festival were only restricted and constrained to the men previously but now lots of women come out of their homes to dance and celebrate the festival with their male companions. The idea and patterns of celebration differ at various places.
To increase the effectiveness and enjoyment, dance competitions and beauty contests are organized during the Bihu week. Bull fights and Bird fights are part of the traditions of Bihu from many years.
Bihu, the national festival of the traditional Assam, is definitely not marked as a religious festival. Three such fascinating festivals, observed at various times of the year, are the part and parcel of the traditional Bihu. Bohaag Bihu is celebrated in Baisakh or in the middle of April, Maagh Bihu is celebrated in the middle of January, where as the Kaati Bihu is celebrated in the month of Karthik or October. The foremost fiesta of Assam has a very old and ethnic history. Each Bihu marks a different distinguished and typical phase of the farming calendar. When the seeding time arrives, the whole Assam celebrates the auspicious Bohaag Bihu. It marks the New Year. The Kaati Bihu marks the end of sowing and transplantation of paddies. And last but not the least; the Maagh Bihu is another carnival which is observed at the end of the harvesting period.
The festival of fun and bliss, the Bohaag Bihu is popularly known as Rangoli Bihu. Maagh Bihu is renowned as Bhogaali Bihu and is known as a festival of food. Kaati Bihu, marked as a festival of the poor, is also called as Kongaali Bihu.
The arrival of the wonderful spring is enjoyed blissfully with Bohaag Bihu. The occasion is observed with the traditional dance form and folk songs. Bihu folk songs are popularly known as the Bihugeets. Bohaag Bihu continues for few Days. Young and energetic people form groups and walk around the village. They are dressed up in colorful and bright clothes. The pretty and beautiful girls dance to celebrate the occasion. This kind of assemblage is known as Mukoli Bihus. The enchanting songs and music are popular among all the sections of the society. The special and spectacular carnival is full of romanticism and love.
The language of Bihu always refreshes the mind and soul. However, the language of Bihu has kept on changing. The songs of Bihu are composed in couplets and each of them invariably depicts dissimilar emotions and at the same time the songs are accompanied with characteristic and unique dance forms. This is the charm of this fantastic festival. The elegance and style of these songs are noteworthy. The language is quite simple and straightforward. Intellectual scholars believe and opine that the language of Bihu is definitely not influenced by the ancient Indian language, Sanksrit.
Bihu songs also have a lot of influences on the old and impressive Assamese literature. The impact of the language of Bihu songs on the rich Assamese literature is notable.
Mukoli Bihu, the predominantly popular festival, is not anymore observed with the warmth. However, a number of professional dance groups still perform Bihu songs on the stage of Bihu fairs. Bihu dances are the additional enticements.
Bihu Kunwori, the traditional contest, is still organized widely. Juvenile and young women include their names in the dance competition and the best dancer is honored and gets the title of Bihu Kunwori.
The popularity of the Bihu songs has now crossed the boundaries of states and nation. Every year new songs are out in the market. It shows the popularity and acceptance of the special and melodious music of Bihu.
Significance of Bihu
The prominence and recognition of Bohaag Bihu among the believers of Assamese cultures and ethnicity, spreading across the boundaries, are immense. It has the uncanny power to break the shackle and bring all the cultural people together on the propitious fiesta. The premise is open for all. Bihus are attached with the souls of the greeneries and soaring hills of Assam. Three Bihus attract innumerable people throughout the year and unite them.
The tribal community, Dimasa Kachari, used to live their life in the awe inspiring valleys of Assam previously. The word Bihu, was derived from the mother tongue of the tribes, Dimasa Kachari.
|Traditional bull fighting|
Assam, the land has to offer an impressive blend of cultures and mores, especially the ethnic traditions of various tribes have a definite impact on the chain of carnivals of Assam. Cast, religion, creed or belief, nothing is more important than the fun and frolic of Bihu. The promising and inspiring occasion is celebrated by all the residents of Assam. Assam is endowed with greeneries and welcomes the visitors with the tunes of Bihu amidst the fascinating prolonged valleys. People around the breathtaking landscapes and compelling gorges come alive with the musical tunes of Bihu songs thrice every year.
It's a grand celebration of farming and paddies. Each and every Bihu signifies a special and singular meaning. Rangoli Bihu marks the inauguration of sowing of seeds where as the Kati Bihu marks the conclusion of sowing and transplantation. The arrival of the harvest period is observed when the inhabitants of Assam celebrate it with Maagh Bihu.
Three festivals are linked with three different seasons, spring (Bohaag), winter (Maagh Bihu) and autumn (Kati).
Even though Bihu is solely and exclusively a regional (Assam, India) festival but many people who live in other countries also celebrate it with lot of zeal and pleasure. As the festival is not anyway attached with the spirituality or religion, everyone of every religion and field come out of their homes to celebrate the carnival. This is the essence of Bihu. The seasonal changes are marked perfectly by three Bihus in a year. It is quite obvious that the festival symbolizes the solidarity and togetherness.
ESSENCE OF BIHU PERFORMANCE
Bihu dance is performed along with the unique and striking Assamese folk music. Assamese customs and ethnicity are visible on the dance forms. Drummers who play drums or dhol, are the most important and significant musicians. The dhol is played with a stick and a palm. Drummers perform differently with variety of rhythms and musical tunes at various segments of the performances. These metrical and musical compositions, called seus, are conventionally codified.
Drummers enter into the dancing premise in a queue and before entering into the performance arena they play a short and vigorous rhythm. The mohor xingor pepa is played generally in the beginning by a single player and without any doubt it sets the mood of the dance and carnival.
All the men dancers then come out to perform the special dance. Taal (a type of clash cymbal), Gogona (a reed and bamboo instrument), Toka (a bamboo clapper), xutuli (a clay whistle) and Bamboo flutes are played apart from the ethnic Dhol (drum).
The lyrics of the Bihugeet welcome the New Year and narrate the daily activities of farmers.
Bihu dances are performed both my men and women. However, the dances of women offer a lot of vibrant variations. There are many stages (freehand, twisting etc) of female dance forms which really attract and entice dance lovers. The dance forms fascinate mainly because of their rapid and hasty change of dispositions, tempo, movements, swiftness and improvisations. Able dancers and musicians are given very short span of time to showcase their talent and intelligence.
TYPES OF BIHUTypes of Bihu
The most important and momentous festival of Assam is definitely Bihu. The whole Assam celebrates the charming occasions with smiles, happiness and delight. Three Bihus are celebrated right through the year. The following descriptions will help you to understand the essence and importance of the different Bihus.
Most of the dwellers of Assam, irrespective of their religion and race, celebrate the occasion with their own touch of colors and traditions. The most popular of all the Bihus, Rongali Bihu, marks the commencement of the Assamese New Year and welcomes the spring with both arms wide open.
The occasion is known with innumerable names to various races (Baisagu for Bodo Kacharis, Baikhu for Rabhas, Ali- Ai- Ligang for Misings, Bobhaggio Bisu for Deoris).
The seven days long festival observed cheerfully and with lot of fun all over Assam. The first day is known as Goru Bihu or Cow Bihu. Generally cows are washed and worshipped with lot of devotions. This is followed by Manuh (Human) Bihu, falls generally on 15th April, the New Year. This is the time when city indwellers and village habitants clean themselves up and wear new attires. It's time to get ready for the energetic and sparkling celebrations of the New Year.
The occasion marks the last day of the year and cattle are reverenced. The underlying principles behind worshipping the cows are their nature and importance. They produce milk, help to plough fields and used to transport men. They are the best friends and assets of the farmers.
The cattle are rinsed, tarnished and cleaned with ground turmeric, different pastes and adhesives. Gourd and brinjals are offered to the cows. Assamese sing the traditional and tuneful Bihu songs while cows take foods.
Manuh Bihu, the next day of Goru Bihu, is celebrated on the New Year day. Bihuwan, the traditional Assamese clothes, were gifted to the elder people of the family as a token of appreciation and respect. Children sing and dance wearing new and colorful attires. It's time when people go and greet their near and dear ones. Husoris, the Bihugeets and Carols are sung mainly by the elder people of a particular village. They move to different households while they sing hymn. Various cultural events are planned and staged on the premise of different Bihu pandals.
Kati or Kongali Bihu:
The style of observing Kati Bihu is bit different. It's not all about smiling and spending the festive season, restriction and solemnity are must on this occasion. The Bihu is dedicated to the holy deity, Lakshmi who is the distributor and dispenser of the assets to the mortals. The aspiration of rich harvesting is the key. Kati Bihu marks the completion and end of sowing and transplantation. Puja offerings are made to the Tulsi plant in the evening. The enchanting Diyas enlighten the inner souls. Inhabitants of Assam offer the puja and wish to have quality and improved crops. This Bihu is celebrated mostly in villages where farmers offer lights in their respective fields. These lights are known as “Akash Banti” or "Sky Lamp". Tulsi (Basil) trees are planted on the premise of every household and habitants worship the plant with Diya or an earthen lamp.
Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu
The homes of Assam are decorated to welcome the third Bihu festival of the year. Generally the festival falls on 14th January and is observed on the sankranti of the month. Having foods and enjoying the festive times are the prime objectives of the grand Bihu. Bhogali, the word is derived from the word Bhog, i.e. food. The occasion marks the end of the harvesting season. The mouth watering and delicious delicacies are the charm of this fastidious Bihu. Uruku, the night of the first day, is the time when the grand feast is celebrated with Bhog. Habitants form Bhelaghars or Mejis with bamboo and pieces of woods on their own farmlands or on the adjoining premises. Everyone of the community congregates at a place and takes the pleasure in the luscious and appetizing local foods. Sweets and greetings are exchanged with smiles. The whole night is spent with a blissful mood. Musical instruments like Dhols are played while people enjoy the Bihu songs. People spend the beautiful night together around the Meji. Children engage themselves in playing games. Young and energetic guys wander around the firewood and have fun.
On the next morning everyone fresh themselves up after taking bath and assemble in front of the Meji to burn it. Pithas and betel nuts are thrown in the burning Maji. It is a way of worshipping the Almighty and ending the harvesting year at the same time.
Later on, the half burnt firewood is thrown to the fruit trees for the desired results. Different types of sports like Buffalo fight, Egg fight, Cock fight and Nightingale fight are quite common games which are played all through the day.