Basically an agricultural country, India rejoices many harvest festivals celebrated in different ways in different regions. Time and ways of celebration may vary, but these harvest festivals bring entire India at a common platform where seeds of life are sowed and nurtured. There is no gainsaying that people in India are deeply rooted in their culture. Magh Bihu is another evidence of the hope and joy that harvest season brings every year.
In the North-Eastern region of India, Assam witnesses massive festivity on the occasion of Magh Bihu, also called Bhogali Bihu and Maghar Domahi. The festival marks the end of rice harvesting season. It is a very important festival in agrarian communities of Assam culture.
There are three Bihu festivals in Assam. Each of them signifies three stages of the crop cycle- beginning of the agricultural season, transplantation completion, and end of harvesting season. Other than Magh Bihu, Bohag Bihu and Kati Bihu are also celebrated in Assam with utmost cheerfulness. Term ‘Bihu’ means enjoyment itself.
The festival comes in the month of Magha (that spans January and February, as per the Georgian calendar). It is celebrated on the day of Makar Sankranti. In some parts of Assam, people enjoy this festival for over a week.
Rituals and Celebration
On Magh Bihu, in Assam, there is a unique traditional way of erecting hut-like structures with the help of thatch, leaves and bamboo. These huts, called Meji in the local language, are made in shorn rice fields and are used to relish the feast. Entire community spends the night in these Mejis or Bhela Ghars and burn them the next morning of the celebration. At the time of bonfire, coconuts are offered to Gods, and vegetables are roasted on these bonfires for feasting.Not only the delicacies but traditional games of Assam such as Tekeli, Bhonga, Bird-fights and Buffalo fights also add to the fervour of the festivity. Bonfire, traditional dances, folk songs fill the atmosphere with joy and merriment.
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