April 14, 2021: Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu, is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in the North Eastern state of Assam and marks the start of the Assamese New Year. The festival starts in mid-April and goes on for seven days and this year Bohag Bihu will start on April 14 and end on April 20.
Bohag Bihu: The Assamese New year
The festival is of mostly aboriginal origin comprising Tibeto-Burman, Austro-Dravidian, Tai and Alpine elements. It usually falls in the 2nd week of April, historically signifying the time of harvest.
In Assam, locally the onset of Bohag (Assamese Calendar) marks the starting of Rongali Bihu. The three primary types of Bihu are Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu, Kati Bihu or Kongali Bihu, and Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu.
Each festival historically recognises a different agricultural cycle of the paddy crops. During Rongali Bihu there are 7 pinnacle phases: Sot, Raati, Goru, Manuh, Kutum, Mela and Sera.
Bohag Bihu celebrations
Bihu falls on the first day of the Magh month, according to the Bengali calendar.
It is Bohag Bihu which marks the beginning of spring, and it lasts for several days. During these days, people celebrate by wearing traditional clothes like dhoti, gamosa, and mekhela sador. People also sing traditional folk songs dedicated to Bihu.
The holiday unites the different native communities of Assam regardless of their backgrounds and promotes the celebration of ethnic diversity.
The first day of Bihu is dedicated to cows, and on the morning of this day, people take their cows to a lake or river and give them a wash. The second day is when people dress up and exchange gifts. The third day is always dedicated to the worship of deities. The fourth day, called Bohagi Bidai or Phato Bihu is the final day of the festival, marked by wrapping up the celebrations.
People make pithas (traditional cakes) and distribute them among friends and relatives.