Assamese New Year 14th April, 2020
Bihu, the most popular festival of Assam celebrates the onset of the Assamese New Year and upcoming of Spring. This marks the first day of Hindu Solar Calendar. In the year 2020, it will fall on 14th Arpil.
First day of Hindu Solar calendar is also observed in many state of India with different names like, Punjab – it’s Baishakhi, in Tamilnadu – it’s Pongal. This festival celebrates for whole of the month. Rongali or Bohag Bihu falls at the time where no work is for the cultivator but there is enough store to enjoy. Bohag Bihu is one of the major festival of Assam commonly known as Rongali Bihu is celebrated in Assam during middle month of April.
It is welcomed with great enthusiasm across the country. India is a country with cultural diversities and blessed with many festivals that are celebrated in different parts of its state. Different states of India celebrate spring season festivities which are deeply related to their cultural beliefs and customs
The first Bihu which is known as the Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu is celebrated for a period of seven days. It celebrates the onset of spring and farmers on this occasion prepare the field for cultivation. There is a general air of feasting and festivity all around in the atmosphere of Assam.
Next Bihu is known as Kati Bihu. This Bihu is primarily celebrated to seek blessings from the Gods, so that no harm is done to the crops while they are getting ready for harvest.
The last Bihu is known as Magh Bihu. Magh Bihu marks the end of the harvest season. During Magh Bihu, the primary emphasis is on feasting and celebrating, as the granaries are full and farmers are no longer required to worry about their crops. Celebration of Magh Bihu involves a lot of food and entertainment and is celebrated with much enthusiasm in all Assamese families located in different parts of the World.
The celebration of Assamese New Year in Seven Phases
The Bohag or Rongali Bihu will be observed in Assam on 14th April, 2020. This festival pass through seven pinnacle phases and each of the phases is equally important.
Raati Bihu commences on the first night of Chaitra and lasts till Uruku. In this night celebrations involve the gathering of local women of the local women in an open field illuminated by lighting up the torches. People participate with enthusiasm to play an instrument made from buffalo hornpipe called “Pepa”, and a musical instrument made of split bamboo called “bholuka baahor toka”.
It is also known as Bali Husori and starts on the second day of Chaitra. This day is celebrated by organising dance and song events by the young at outdoor locations, fields or a Naamghor Bakori or Prayer Hall till the occurrence of Uruka, the formal beginning of Rongali Bihu.
This is celebrated on the last day of Chaitramonth. On Goru Bihu, the cattle of the village are brought to a water source and are bathed and cleaned using turmeric and gram paste. After bath the cattle are offered vegetables and Bor Pitha, a delicacy made from rice and jaggery as a gesture to thank them for providing the farmers a good harvest. The day ends with the burning of rice bran.
People have a traditional bath using turmeric on this auspicious occasion, clean their households and wear traditional clothes. People seek blessings from the elders and gift them the Gamusa or Bihuwan as a symbol of respect. Manuh Bihu is also known as Bor Domahiin parts of lower Assam.
Second dayof Visakhis Kutum Bihu, people visit houses of their relatives and friends to greet and bond over a meal. Kutum means family.
This day of Bihu is marked by the celebration of Bihu with cultural events and competitions in outdoor locales. The tradition of events is continued till date with Bihu Melas and functions. The fairs are attended by people from all over Assam and are aimed at fostering an atmosphere of the communal brotherhood and everyone’s inclusion.
The last of Rongali Bihu also called as Bohagi Bidai and is celebrated differently in different regions. The common theme is to wrap the festival with future resolutions. On this day people exchange traditional delicacies especially pithas among their family and friends.
New Year Delicacy or Bihu Delicacy
Bihu is incomplete without traditional delicacy. Festivals in India have an important component called as “traditional cuisines” without which the celebrations would go in vain. There are many traditional dishes served at Bihu festival.
Laru or Laddoo
Coconut laddoo is a delicacy prepared with raw grated coconut and is quite popular during the festive season in India. The soft delectable coconut prepared with dry fruits and nuts impart it a distinct texture and taste, which makes it the perfect choice for a light dessert.
Til Laddoo is mostly associated with Makar Sankranti which is also named as Til Sankranti by some communities, and on that day it is a ritual to have this laddoo. Sesame (black or white) is mixed with jaggery and made into small rounds. The flavor of jaggery and sesame blend together to give a mild yet lingering taste.
Muri Laru or puffed rice laddu is very famous delicacy during Bihu. Almost this yummy laddu is prepared at every house. This is prepared from puffed rice and jaggery.
Til pitha is almost synonymous to Bihu as you cannot think of Bhogali Bihu without loads of til pitha. This traditional dish is not known to many except the Assamese community, but we bet, once you have it you will crave for more. This cylindrical shaped dessert is stuffed with til (sesame) and sometimes with coconut too.
Assamese style sweet where coconut is mixed with sugar and caramelized, mixed with flour and milk, and deep fried. You can serve it as a dessert at the end of a meal or as a evening tea time snack.
A sweet preparation made with rice flour and sugar syrup. The flour is cooked with the sugar syrup till the syrup dries. This paste is further rolled into small balls and flattened with the rolling pins. After this step, it is deep fried in the oil till crispy and golden brown.
Whether it be soaked komal saul with curd/ cream and sweetened with bananas/ jaggery/ sugar or soaked bora saul cooked in milk and sweetened to arrive at a soft and chewy rice pudding or the more ubiquitous doi- sira- gur that is the hallmark of khati okhomiyas, breakfast options are never limited within the ambit of traditional Assamese cuisine.
The festival of Bihu concludes with the message of peace, trust, humanity, harmony, friendliness and compatibility.