The name "Rongali" comes from the Assamese word "Rong", which means happiness and celebration. This festival is not only a celebration of the Assamese New Year but also a celebration of unity, togetherness, and brotherhood. People of all ages and religions come together to celebrate this festival with great fervor and zeal. Here is an essay on Bohag Bihu.
The festival is a symbol of the harmony that exists among the diverse communities of Assam. The celebrations of Bohag Bihu are a time of joy, feasting, and merriment. The festival is marked by the sound of the dhol, pepa, and other traditional instruments, colorful attire, and delicious traditional Assamese cuisine. Bohag Bihu is not just a festival, but an embodiment of Assamese culture and traditions. It is a celebration of life, love, and happiness.
Bohag Bihu, the seven-day-long festival, has a significant meaning and importance in the state of Assam. The festival starts with Goru Bihu, which is observed to honor and worship cattle for their contribution to the agricultural sector. The next day, Manuh Bihu, is a day dedicated to celebrating human life, and people dress up in new clothes and cook traditional delicacies to mark the occasion.
Gosai Bihu, the third day of the festival, is a day dedicated to seeking the blessings of the Almighty. People visit temples and offer prayers for prosperity and good fortune. The fourth day, Kutum Bihu, is a time for family reunions and gatherings. People come together, share food, and exchange greetings with their loved ones.
Senehi Bihu, the fifth day, is a day for exchanging gifts and greetings with in-laws. On the sixth day, known as Mela Bihu, people indulge in traditional games and festivities such as buffalo fights, egg fights, and cockfights. The final day of the festival, Chera Bihu, is a day for bidding farewell to the festival and the passing year with joy and enthusiasm. Bohag Bihu is not just a festival; it is a celebration of life, culture, and tradition in Assam.
The celebration of Rongali Bihu in the state of Assam takes several forms. Here are some of them:
'Huchari' is an essential element of the Rangali Bihu festival, and is one of several festivities celebrated during this time. These are performed on the first day of the Goru Bihu, and at night, young men led by elders go from house to house singing them. The young men start by singing 'Huchari' at the house of the village head, before moving on to every other house in the village.
Each family in the village shows respect to the 'Huchari' team by honoring them with a piece of 'Cheleng cloth', a beautifully designed 'Gamocha', and a small amount of money. In turn, the 'Huchari' team blesses each family with a special religious song and prays for their overall development. 'Huchari' is sung for about a week, and the money collected during these performances is often used for the development of the village's Namghor, schools, library, and other communal facilities. Villagers may also use the money for a communal feast.
Young unmarried men and women celebrate the Bihu by dancing and singing songs that delve into the themes of romantic love, both requited and unrequited. These are performed in the open fields, and the youth adorn themselves in clothes made of traditional golden silk muga. These songs may also touch upon tragic events, but with a light-hearted touch.
This Bihu dance and song are exclusively performed and enjoyed by women. The name "jeng" has roots in the practice of women in villages encircling their performance area with sticks called "jeng" in Assamese. Also known as "gos tolor bihu" or "Bihu beneath the tree," this dance and song are a tribute to the feminine spirit and the bond shared by women.
From rural to urban, the Bihu festival made a remarkable transition when it was first brought to the stage in Guwahati's Lataxil field in 1962. Promoted by esteemed citizens such as Radha Govinda Baruah and others, this event saw the rise of Assam's Bihu 'Samrat' or king, Khagen Mahanta. Unlike their rural counterparts, the dancers perform on an elevated makeshift stage, giving rise to the term "Bihutoli." Since then, bihutolis have sprung up all over Guwahati and other urban areas, with performances ranging from stand-up comedy to solo concerts. This stage version of Bihu has become so popular that organizers now extend the celebrations to "bohagi bidai," or farewell to the Bohag month, where similar performances are held a month later, keeping the audience enchanted well into the early hours.