Bihu | Bihu festival |Bihu Festival of Assam | Bihu Dance | Bihu Songs

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Bihu festival | Bihu Festival of Assam | Bihu Dance | Bihu Songs

Bihu Festival 

Bihu Festival

Bihu is the chief festival in the Assam state of India. It refers to a set of three different festivals: Rongali or Bohag Bihu festival is observed in April, Kongali or Kati Bihu observed in October, and Bhogali or Magh Bihu observed in January.

The Rongali Bihu is the most important of the three celebrating the Assamese new year and the spring festival.

The Bhogali Bihu or the Magh Bihu is the one that is all about food. The Kongali Bihu or the Kati Bihu is the somber, thrifty one reflecting a season of short supplies and is an animistic festival

The Rongali Bihu coincides with the Poi-Sangken festival in Thailand and other regions of East and South-East Asia. The other two Bihu festivals every year are unique to Assamese people. Like some other Indian festivals, Bihu is associated with agriculture, and rice in particular.

Bohag Bihu is a sowing festival, Kati Bihu is associated with crop protection and worship of plants and crops and is an animistic form of the festival, while Bhogali Bihu is a harvest festival. Assamese celebrate the Rangali Bihu with feasts, music, and dancing. Some hang brass, copper or silver pots on poles in front of their house, while children wear flower garlands then greet the new year as they pass through the rural streets

The three Bihu are Hindu festivals with reverence for Krishna, cattle (Goru Bihu), elders in family, fertility and mother goddess, but the celebrations and rituals reflect influences from aborigine, southeast Asia and Sino-Tibetan cultures. In contemporary times, the Bihus are celebrated by all Assamese people irrespective of religion, caste or creed. It is also celebrated overseas by the Assamese diaspora community living worldwide.

Bihu Festivals of Assam — History and Significance

Bihu Festival 

According to Hakacham, the first form of modern Bihu dance was developed in a temple now known as Harhi Dewaloi. Later, in the 19th century, this form of Bihu dance was adopted by the other communities as well and started being performed in Mahguli Sapori, Dhakuakhana by Chutias, Sonowals, Deoris, Ahoms, Mishing, etc.
Bihu is the most important festival of Assam and signifies three different cultural festivals that are celebrated at different times of the year by the Assamese people commemorating the change of season in accord with the Assamese calendar.

Since the primary occupation of the people of the state is based on agriculture, a separate solar calendar is used to mark the change of season. It is the state festival of Assam and is celebrated with grandeur and zest. It is a festival that surpasses all caste, creed, religion and class barriers when every Assamese comes together to celebrate this festival.

Bihu is a carnival that is celebrated in Assam thrice a year with fervor and enthusiasm, which marks the change of season. The celebration of this festival has a history associated with it. It was first celebrated during 3500 B.C. and during this time, it was a month-long celebration that was celebrated once a year; however, today, Bihu is celebrated thrice a year for a week.

 

The word Bihu is said to have been derived from the local language of Dimasa “Bishu”. As this community is primarily farmers, they used to offer the first crop of the season to their supreme god Brai Shibrai praying for peace and prosperity. “Bishu” means to “ask for prosperity” and gradually it became “Bihu”. However, according to some, “Bi” means “to ask” and “Hu” means “to give”.

Rongali Bihu, which is also called as Bohag Bihu is the first Bihu, which is celebrated to mark the beginning of the spring season. This Bihu is an assimilation of different traditions that are taken from Indo-Aryan, Austro-Asiatic, and Sino-Burmese and is celebrated with zeal and enthusiasm. It also marks the beginning of the New Year as per the Assamese calendar. The other two Bihus are Bhogali Bihu and Kongali Bihu, which are celebrated in the months of January and October, respectively.

Bohag Bihu Or Rongali Bihu

Bohag Bihu (mid-April, also called Rongali Bihu), the most popular Bihu celebrates the onset of the Assamese New Year (around 14–15 April) and the coming of Spring. This marks the first day of the Hindu solar calendar and is also observed in Bengal, Manipur, Mithila, Nepal, Orissa, Punjab, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu though called by different names. It’s a time of merriment and feasting and continues, in general, for seven days. The farmers prepare the fields for cultivation of paddy and there is a feeling of joy around. The women make pitha, larus (traditional food made of rice and coconut) and Jolpan which gives the real essence of the season.

The first day of the bihu is called goru bihu or cow bihu, where the cows are washed and worshipped, which falls on the last day of the previous year, usually on 14 April. This is followed by manuh (human) bihu on 15 April, the New Year Day. This is the day of getting cleaned up, wearing new clothes and celebrating and getting ready for the new year with fresh vigor.

The third day is Gosai (Gods) bihu; statues of Gods, worshiped in all households are cleaned and worshiped asking for a smooth new year. The folk songs associated with the Bohag Bihu are called Bihugeets or Bihu songs. The form of celebration and rites vary among different demographic groups.

Rongali Bihu is also a fertility festival, where the bihu dance with its sensuous movements using the hips, arms, etc., by the young women call out to celebrate their fertility.

The Seven Days

Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu festival continues for seven days and called as Xaat Bihu. The seven days are known as Chot Bihu, Goru Bihu, Manuh Bihu, Kutum Bihu, Senehi Bihu, Mela Bihu, and Chera Bihu.

Kati Bihu Or Kongali Bihu

  • Tuloxir tole mirgo pohu sore !!
    Mirgo Pohu sore sore !!
    Oi ram kar gore loi horinam !!

Kati Bihu also known as Kongali Bihu is not associated with merriment and there is a feeling of gravity and restraint in the environment. It is celebrated in mid of October when the crops are just planted and the granaries of the farmers are approximately empty. On this day, Tulsi plant is planted on the fields to seek blessings for prosperity and protecting the paddy from being affected.

To protect the maturing paddy, cultivators whirl a piece of bamboo and recite rowa-khowa chants and spells to ward off pests and the evil eye. During the evening, cattle are fed specially made rice items called pitha. The Bodo people light lamps at the foot of the siju (Euphorbia neriifolia) tree. This Bihu is also associated with the lighting of akaxi gonga or akaxbonti, lamps at the tip of a tall bamboo pole, to show the souls of the dead the way to heaven, a practice that is common to many communities in India, as well as Asia and Europe.

Bhogali Bihu Or Magh Bihu

Also known as Magh Bihu, Bhogali Bihu is a harvesting festival celebrated in the month of Magh of the Hindu calendar and mid-January of the Georgian calendar. This festival is mainly a feasting festival because the granaries of people are filled with grains. During the night, they prepare food and there is community feasting everywhere. There is also an exchange of sweets and greetings at this time. The entire night (called Uruka) is spent around a Meji with people singing bihu songs, beating Dhol, a typical kind of drums or playing games. Boys roam about in the dark stealing firewood and vegetables for fun. The next morning they take a bath and burn the main Meji.

People gather around the Meji and throw Pithas (rice cakes) and betel nuts to it while burning it at the same time. They offer their prayers to the god of Fire and mark the end of the harvesting year. Thereafter they come back home carrying pieces of half burnt firewood for being thrown among fruit trees for favorable results. On the eve of this festival, which is called “Uruka” is celebrated with grandeur and people get together for feasting. People construct Meji and Bhelaghar, a makeshift cottage, inside which people feast. Next morning, people offer prayers to the Fire God and several sports are organized like cock-fight, buffalo-fight, Nightingale-fight and Egg-fight for the entertainment of people.

Bihu Dance

Bihu Festival 

The Bihu dance is an indigenous folk dance from the Indian state of Assam related to the Bihu festival and an important part of Assamese culture. Performed in a group, the Bihu dancers are usually young men and women, and the dancing style is characterized by brisk steps and rapid hand movements. The traditional costume of dancers is colorful and centered around the red colour theme, signifying joy and vigour.

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Dance forms in India know no boundaries of caste and creed as they depict oneness of the nation. They may have originated in different states of the country but all of them symbolize the joy and liveliness of a certain event. Bihu is a popular folk dance associated with the state of Assam in India and it is performed generally during the Bihu festival. As we early discussed that there are primarily three Bihu festivals that are popular in Assam namely Rongali Bihu, Kongali Bihu and Bhogali Bihu and the Bihu dance is performed during the Rongali Bihu.

History of Bihu Dance

The origins of the dance form are unclear, however, the folk dance tradition had always been very significant in the cultures of Assam’s many ethnic groups, such as Deoris, Sonowal Kacharis, Chutias, Moran and Borahis, among others. The exact details regarding the birth of Bihu dance are not known although as per the records the first ever Bihu dance was performed when Ahom King Rudra Singha invited the performers to perform Bihu in the year 1694 at Ranghar fields on the merry occasion of Rongali Bihu.

Rongali Bihu is the merriest of all the Bihu festivals celebrated across the year in Assam as it marks the beginning of the spring season. The first official endorsement is cited to be when Ahom king Rudra Singha invited Bihu dancers to perform at the Ranghar fields around 1694 on the occasion of Rongali Bihu. Bihu dance continues to play an important role and is a cultural emblem in the modern-day Assamese society.

Bihu Dance Style

The energetic dance steps and quick hand movements define the Bihu dance of Assam. But that is not all as any folk dance is incomplete without its costume and jewelry and the performers of Bihu don the traditional Assamese attire. This dance is performed usually by the young males and females to show their joy and merriment on the arrival of the spring season. A lot of vibrancy can be seen in the dance outfit of Bihu and that is what depicts the genuine spirit of this dance form.

Bihu Dance Costumes

Bihu Festival 

Like any other folk dance of India, Bihu is a unique traditional dance that portrays the spirit and culture of the region. Bihu celebrates the commencement of the harvest season in Assam with much joy and fanfare. The dance costume worn by Bihu performers are uncomplicated pieces of clothes that can allow the free movement of limbs and hands. The draping styles of these costumes are usually very simple and uncomplicated, but the clothes used for this purpose are really striking with matching jewellery and other ornaments.

The male performers of Bihu are dressed in dhotis and gamocha. A dhoti is primarily a long and thin piece of cloth that is worn around the waist and it covers the lower part of the male body. Gamocha, on the other hand, is for the head, and both the dhoti and the gamocha are bright in colors and have beautiful embroidery in different styles and patterns on the two ends. The women who perform Bihu usually don traditional Assamese attire for the performance.

They are dressed in Chador and Mekhela; Mekhela happens to be an attire that is cylindrical in shape and is worn on the lower half of the body. Chador, on the other hand, is like a drape which is used for covering the upper portion of the body. The women don a blouse beneath the chador and the common fabrics used for making the attire are pat silk, cotton, and muga silk. Women team up their outfits with gaudy and heavy jewelry and they also decorate their braids were pretty flowers that perfectly match the color of the attire worn by them.

Music is a vital part of every folk dance and the same is the case with Bihu. There are many instruments that are utilized during a Bihu performance namely a dhol, pepa, Taal, toka, xutuli, gogona and baanhi. Not even one musical instrument can be ruled out of the list as they all play a pivotal role in producing the traditional tunes for the Bihu performance. A traditional Bihu performance is eye-catching and worth cherishing as it recites the happiness and heritage of the Assamese people.

Bihu Songs of Assam

Bihu, the most reverted festival of Assam State is celebrated with a lot of gaiety and show. The festival celebrates the harvest season mainly. Bihu geet forms an integral part of the festival, which is close to the heart of all Assamese. Here we present a list of melodious Bihu festival songs which are sung along with the pleasant sound of Indian musical instruments. Wind full of celebration is incomplete without these Bihu songs sung to express happiness during festivities enjoyed to celebrate the harvest season. The Bihu song lyrics adorn the lips of all who enjoy the music along with Husori in the village along with singing and dancing to the traditional music of toka, gagan, dhol and pepa like instruments.

Bihu Songs of Assam is a book authored by Prafulladutta Goswami and published by Lawyers Book Stall in 1957. The book is a collection of 262 Bihu songs collected as early as 1921, which were first put into print in 1934. Although the songs are in English, each song is later shown in original Assamese text

Bihu Song Lyrics

Song 1: Phool phulise Boxontor – Bihu Song Lyrics
Phool phulise Boxontor
tumi jaanmoni bohaagor..
pratitu bohagotes morom jaasu tumak antaror…

Phool phulise Boxontor
tumi jaanmoni bohaagor..
pratitu bohagotes morom jaasu tumak antaror…

Gun gunkoi bhumura phule phule porise..
Thupa thupe naahor togor daal bhori phulise..
Jaanmoni tumiei mur kaamona baaxona..
tumiei mur jiwanor bhoroxa..
tumei mur bukure koli..

Jur moloya fagunor..
Tumi jaanmoni moromor..
Pratitu boxontote morom jaasu tumak hridoyor..

Jur moloya fagunor..
Tumi jaanmoni moromor..
Pratitu boxontote morom jaasu tumak hridoyor..

Ronga nila pokhila
jaake jaake urise..
Koo koo koi koolitie paator aarot maatise..

O jaanmoni tumiei mur praanore putola..
Tumiei mur aaxaare nijora..
Tumiei mur moromor moni..

Na Kuhipaat aahotor..
Na dhal naame luitor..
Xodaaei xun thaakiba..
Tora hoi mur monor akaxot..

Na Kuhipaat aahotor..
Na dhal naame luitor..
Xodaaei xun thaakiba..
Tora hoi mur monor akaxot..

Dhul pepai gorojile…
Axomor suke kune..
Tunmi kaaxot nathakile
mone kiba kore

Jaanmoni tumiei mur moromor gohona..
tumei mur xaagoror mukuta..
tumei mur jiwon logori..
Xewaali phootl xorotor..

Bohaag maahor duporor
Protitu dhulor saaapore..
monot pelaai kotha atitor..
Xewaali phootl xorotor..

Bohaag maahor duporor
Protitu dhulor saaapore..
monot pelaai kotha atitor..
Mou boroxa morom dim..
mur kumal hiyaare..

Xopune oi dithokote thaakiba mur kaaxote..
O jaanmoni mur akaxor sandrama..
tumei mur junaaki paruwa..
tumiei mur nodire xuti..
Jaanmoni tumiei mur nodire xuti..

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Bihu Festival Food Recipes

Bihu Festival 

Any festival in India is never complete with some unique delicacies of the region. The food along with the music gives the festival a unique regional flavour that gives it a distinct identity. Bihu is basically a festival that is centred on the harvest calendar of Assam. People usually made food items from rice, coconuts, jaggery, sesame and milk products. These ingredients are locally available during the occasion of Bihu and play an important role in preparing different festival delicacies. Let us have a look at the three unique Bihu recipes that bears a stamp of rural Assam.

The Bihu festival is a major festival of Assam which is related with the harvest. During the various Bihu festivals such as Rongoli Bihu and Magh Bihu, the Assamese tribes indulge in merrymaking and perform their age old rituals associated with this festival. However, they also prepare some mouth-watering dishes for Bihu.

Here is a list of three popular Bihu recipes that are prepared by every Assamese on the occasion of Bihu.

Coconut Laddoo
Ingredients
3.5 cups of grated or dry coconut
2.5 cups of cow milk
2 cups of white sugar
A pinch of camphor

Preparation:

Boil the milk in a wide bottom pan.
When the milk starts boiling for a couple of minutes add 2 cups shredded coconut and mix well.
When the coconut has finished absorbing the milk add the sugar.
Stir continuously on low flame and make sure the mixture does not stick at the bottom.
Add the pinch of camphor and turn off the heat.
Allow the mixture to cool and make small balls.
Roll the balls in powdered coconut to make laddoos.

Ghila Pitha
Ingredients:
1 kg rice flour
½ kg Jaggery or 1 kg of sugar
250 gm. of Cooking Oil
2 cups of hot water.

Preparation
Add the sugar or jaggery to 2 cups of warm water
Let the water stand until the sugar dissolves in the hot water.
Add the rice flour and fold it carefully in the sugar water.
Use enough rice flour to prepare a smooth dough.
Keep the dough covered for some time and then divide it into small balls of equal sizes.
Flatten the balls using a rolling pin into half inch round balls and fry them in oil, till they are golden on both the sides.

Kharbuja ke Beej
Ingredients:
Melon seeds (100 gm.)
50 gm. Sugar
1 teaspoon of ghee
1 cup of warm water

Preparation
Allow the seeds of muskmelon to dry after cleaning them thoroughly.
Heat the ghee in a pan and add the seeds.
Sauté the seeds for a couple of minutes till they turn golden brown
Add sugar into the pan and stir continuously to ensure theta the seeds stick to one another
Mix the seeds well and serve hot.

Bihu Festival 

Jolphai jola aru mitha aasaar

This is a type of mouthwatering chutney made with Indian olive and jaggery. You will need ingredients like 400 grams of jolpai, roasted and ground coriander and cumin seeds, mustard oil, paanch phoron, salt, bay leaves, 2 cup grated jiggery and red chili powder.

At first, you will have to boil the jolphai for 12 minutes or so. Then, cut out flesh and discard the stones. Some people retain them with bits of flesh on. Heat oil in pan and add the paanch phoron and bay leaf. Add the jolphai and other ingredients to it and mix well. Stir cook on low heat for 12 minutes or so. It will become sticky. After it is cool, store the chutney in a tight glass jar.

Dhekia Xaak Bhaji

This is one type of edible fern, used for cooking in numerous ways in households of Assam. Dhekia xaak fry is delicious and the fern can be found growing wildly by river side and unused lands in abundance. You will need 3 bunches of Dhekia xaak, green Chilly, 2 duck eggs, garlic pod, mustard oil and salt.

At first, you need to wash and chop the xaak. Ensure you pick the tender stems only. Fry the crushed garlic pod in oil and then add the xaak and chilly. Add salt and stir fry. When the xaak is tender, add the eggs. When the egg gets blended well with the xaak, remove from heat. Serve the dish with rice.

Masor Tenga

This is one tangy fish curry Assamese people love gorging on. Usage of lemon juice and diverse spices lend the dish a unique flavor. You will need a few pieces of Rohu fish to make it. Other ingredients are chopped onions, chopped tomatoes, Green chillies, Lemon juice, Coriander leaves and mustard oil. You will also need spices like Turmeric powder, Panch phoran, Salt and Yellow mustard paste.

At first, wash the fish pieces and marinate them with turmeric and salt. Set them aside for some time. Fry the pieces in mustard oil till they are brownish and set aside. Now fry the paanch phoron in oil and chopped vegetables with chilies. After a few minutes, add the turmeric powder and mustard paste and cook. Finally, pour in salt and lemon juice. Now pour in fried fish pieces and cook for a few minutes. After garnishing with chopped coriander leaves, serve the curry with rice.

Pumpkin Oambal

Pumpkin is deemed as a bland tasting vegetable by many. However, your view would change if you taste this delicious side dish prepared in Assam during Bihu. You will need half kg of boiled and mashed pumpkin. The other ingredients are diluted Tamarind Water, ½ cup grated Jaggery, Lime Juice, Dry Red Chilies, Raisins, Mustard Seeds, Salt, a bay leaf and mustard oil.

Mix the tamarind water to mashed pumpkin well. Now, fry the mustard seeds in oil. Add the bay leaf and slit chilies. After a minute, add raisins and stir-fry. Now, pour in pumpkin-tamarind mixture and stir-fry for a while. Add the jaggery mixture and mix well. Finally, pour in the lemon juice. Before serving, you may discard the bay leaf.

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