Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Magh Bihu 2011 – Festivals of Assam

The Magh Bihu 2011 was held from 14th January to 16th January. The Magh Bihu 2011 festival was celebrated with great pomp and show with an assorted foods prepared from the fresh harvests. The Assam Magh Bihu festival is also popularly known as Maghar Domahi or Bhogali Bihu, which means, Bihu of enjoyment. This harvest festival of Assam marks the end of the winter harvest season and is the Assamese way of celebrating Sankranti with grand feasts and merry bonfires that last for an entire week.

Magh Bihu Uruka

During the Magh Bihu festival in Assam, youths build up makeshift huts called meji ghar with the help of thatch, leaves and bamboo and inside these huts; they enjoy the feast in the gathering of their friends and families. Similar huts called Bhelaghar are also built. Both types of huts are built usually near a river on a rice field on the eve of Magh Bihu called Uruka. The entire festive night of Uruka is kept alive with bihu songs, which are played in tune with the rhythmic beats of the musical instrument “dhol,” similar to the drum. These huts are then, ritually set aflame on the next morning after the Magh Bihu feast. People gather around the meji ghar huts and throw rice pastries or pithas and betel nuts to the fire after setting the huts aflame. This is a ritualistic way of offering prayers to the Agni Dev or Fire God to mark the end of the harvest season. The next day is followed by celebrations when relatives visit each other, gather up in a community and distribute rice cakes and pastries made from coconut, til, rice and jiggery, to everyone.

Magh Bihu Entertainment

The Magh Bihu celebration is also marked by exciting games and activities such as pot-breaking competition called tekeli bhonga, bird fighting and buffalo fighting. Dance and music are also an integral part of the Magh Bihu festival in Assam.

Magh Bihu in other regions of India

The Assamese Magh Bihu festival is equivalent of the Makar Sankranti or the winter solstice cum harvest festival celebrated in South India as Pongal, Lohri in North India and Makar Sankranti in Central India.

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