Magh Bihu | Bhogali Bihu

Makara Sankranti of Assam, Assamese festival Magh Bihu, Festival of Assam Magh Bihu, Celebrations on Magh Bihu

Magh Bihu is an Assamese festival that is celebrated on the starting day of the Magh Month.

What is Bihu ?

Bihu is an word that is derived from the BISHU. BISHU is a Dimasa language in which BI means to ask and SHU means peace and prosperity, hence the actual essence of the festival is to pray or ask for peace and prosperity.

As time passed by BISHU finally got translated to present day BIHU. The meaning of modern day meaning as explained by Kalagur Bishnu Prasad Rabha is BI means to ask and HU means to give, which makes the festival of exchanging happiness and prosperity.

Different types of Bihu

There are three different types of Bihu that are celebrated in Assam. These fall in line with the farming calendar of the Assam staple crop Paddy. Bihus are the festival celebrated to mark the start , intermediate and end of the farming seasons.

Below are the three different kinds of Bihu that are celebrated in Assam

Rongali Bihu :- Celebrated in the mid of April/May, the spring season or the season when the preparations for farming the paddy crop are started

Kongali Bihu :-  Celebrated in mid October  and the paddy crop is growing. People lit a lamp at the Tulasi plant, garden, place where rice is stored and paddy fields.

Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu :- Celebrated in the mid of January.

What is Magh Bihu ?

Magh Bihu is a Assamese festival that is celebrated on the starting day of the Magh month of the Assamese calendar. This normally falls on the 14th  or 15th January.  Magh Bihu is one of most important festival of Assamese.

Magh Bihu is the celebrated to mark the end of the farming season when the year long struggle of the farmer bears fruit and money is earned by the farmer.

This festival is celebrated with lot of merry and enthusiasm by the Assamese all over the world.

When is Magh Bihu ?

Magh Bihu is celebrated on the first day of the Magh month of the Assamese calendar. This normally occurs in the mid of January and mostly around 14th or 15th of January.

Other names of Magh Bihu

Magh Bihu is also known by the name of Bhogali  Bihu. Bhog means a enjoyment or a great eating. As the granaries of the farmer are full with grains and the farmer has money Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu is celebrated with lot of enthusiasm and merry.

Rituals of Magh Bihu

Uruka the night before Magh Bihu

The rituals of Magh Bihu start a day before itself. The day before is known as Uruka. Uruka is the last day of the Pausha Month or Puh Month of the Assamese calendar

On Uruka Meji is prepared and Belaghars are built.

What is Meji ?

Meji is a very big structure built by pilling up firewood one over the other meticulously and four bamboo

Magh Bihu - Meji

Magh Bihu – Meji

poles on four corners hold the firewood together. This Meji is built outside the house or in the fields or on the banks of the river. This Meji is guarded by all the people and for that Belaghars are prepared.

What is Bhelaghar ?

Belaghars are make shift huts or homes prepared by young men using the hay from the paddy crop.The whole night is spent in these Belaghars and the Meji is protected the whole night.

A lot of merry is made around Meji by dancing and singing the whole night.

Rituals on the day of Magh Bihu

On the actual day of Magh Bihu  everyone takes an early bath and assemble near the Meji. The Meji is lit by the elderly man in the house or village. The Meji is worshipped by offering various types of consumables like coconut, Pthas, Betel nut  to the fire. By offering the prayers to the fire god they mark the end of the harvesting season.

Youth also enjoy by burning cracker like things made from Bamboo called Hiloi.

The local belief is that the fire of Meji would burnt out the winter and make the coming days warmer.

Ladies prepare a variety of snacks, sweets for the Magh Bihu festival. The prepartions by the ladies start days before the Magh Bihu. These food items along with the special dishes made on the Magh Bihu day are carried to the Meji and distributed.

Elders are paid respect on the day of Magh Bihu known as Gamosa.

The ashes of the burnt Meji are scattered on the fields. It is believed that by scattering the ashes of Meji the fields would become fertile.

The lunch on the day of Magh Bihu is not rice but Chira,Pitha and curd along with many other special dishes like “Wah-Karai”. People eat only vegetarian dishes on Magh Bihu.

Bull fights are a major attractions.

Magh Bihu - Buffalo fight

Magh Bihu – Buffalo fight

The other common fights that are organized are egg fight, cock fight, Nightangle fight etc.

The most famous part of Magh Bihu is the dance known as the Bihu dance and is performed by the young boys and girls.

Different tribes like Mishings, Deoris etc celebrate MaghBihu with their own distinct dance styles.

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