Magh Bihu(Last Updated 05 Aug, 2021)
The Magh Bihu festival of Assam is celebrated with great fervor by its entire populace. Characterized by merry making and feasting, this festival marks the end of the harvesting season when there is abundance of everything. This is the time when the hard working agricultural folk of the state sit down to reap the benefits of their labor. However, it must be pointed out that the Magh Bihu festival is not limited to the agricultural pockets of the state. Right from the smallest of villages to the big towns and cities of Assam, people celebrate this festival with great joy, though it must be mentioned that the mode of celebration differs from the villages to the cities.
The Magh Bihu is also referred to as Bhogali Bihu or the festival of food and is celebrated in the month of January. It is the time when winter sets out on its last course, making way for spring. The night before Magh Bihu Festival is called Uruka and is characterized by loads of merry making and community feasts. However, many of the religious minded folks of Assam choose to fast and pray on this night.
On Magh Bihu, people rise early in the morning and set fire to "mejis" that are temporary pavilions made of wood, bamboo and hay. After the burning of mejis, people sit down to enjoy their fill of traditional Assamese fare. In the villages, people can also witness some interesting bullfights and bird fights. Dance and music also become the order of the day as the day wears on. People also visit the homes of their friends and relatives to exchange pleasantries on the occasion of Bihu.
When is Bihu celebrated?
The Bihu celebrations begin on the last day of the month of poh (according to the Assamese calendar). These festivities last till the month of Magha, between the months of January and February in the English calendar. Feasts are organized and people enjoy this time for about a week.
The Magh Bihu Festival of Assam is an occasion when all differences are forgotten and people unite to celebrate in a pompous manner. If you travel to Assam during this time, make sure that you are a part of the celebrations.
How is Bihu celebrated?
- In Assam, Bihu is celebrated with enthusiasm and passion. People offer prayers to the gods, prepare traditional dishes, and organize get-togethers.
- Uruka, the eve of Bihu, young men go built makeshift huts in the fields using leaves, bamboo, and thatch. These huts are called Bhelaghar.
- On the morning of Bihu, people lit bonfires or Meji and offered prayers to the gods.
- At night, all the people make delicious food and spend the entire night singing and dancing around the bonfire.
- The next day, Magh Bihu is celebrated. People take bath early in the morning and burn off the Meji.
- People enjoy several Assamese games such as buffalo fighting, tekeli bhonga (pot - breaking), cockfights, and egg fights.
- Rice cakes are the main food item made on the day of Bihu and distributed among others. There are several types of rice cakes like til pitha, narikol pitha, tekeli pitha, sunga pitha, and ghila pitha.
- Laru, a sweet made of coconut is also prepared. They are made of sesame, coconut, and murmura (puffed rice).
Significance of Magh Bihu
Bihu is also called Bhogali Bihu. The name ‘Bihu’ is believed to be taken from ‘bishu’ meaning ‘to ask for peace’. ‘Bhog’ in Bhogali stands for ‘eating with the community’