Bihu, the popular harvest festival of Assam is celebrated thrice in a year with Rongali or Bohag Bihu being observed in April, Kongali or Kati Bihu in October and Bhogali or Magh Bihu falling in mid-January. The word bhog in Bhogali means eating and this is the reason why eating with community assumes a great significance on the day. The Magh Bihu celebrations start on the last day of the month of ‘pooh’ in the Assamese calendar.
Magh Bihu will be celebrated on January 14 this year in Assam and it is the time for people to make merry, sing songs, eat good food and enjoy get-togethers.
History of Bihu
According to some scholars, the history of Bihu dates back to ancient times (3500 BC) when people made fire sacrifices for better harvest.
It is said that the festival originated from the times of Dimasa Kacharis, an agrarian tribe who lived in the northeastern part of the world thousands of years back.
As per Vishnu Puran, there was a festival called Bisuva in ancient times which was celebrated when the sun changed its position from one sign of the Hindu zodiac calendar to another. Bihu is said to be the modern version of Bisuva festival.
Celebrated over two days, the first day of Magh Bihu is known as Uruka or Bihu eve. Young people erect makeshift huts called Meji and Bhelaghar from bamboo, leaves and thatch to enjoy the feast. On this day, women make preparations to cook a feast from food items like Chira, Pitha, Laru and Curd. ‘Bhuj’ is organised at night and people relish the good food in the makeshift huts and enjoy a good time with their dear ones.
On the second day of the celebrations, post-harvesting ceremony called Meji is organized and bonfires are lit in the fields as people pray to their ancestral gods. The makeshift huts are burnt by people on this day as part of the ritual of Meji Jwaluwa.
The festival is synonymous with great food and various kinds of rice cakes and sweets made of til (sesame) and jaggery are prepared on this day.