(Bihu is full of joy, Bihu is beautiful, Bihu songs are very sweet, when the winds of Bihu flow. The dancing spirit possesses one's body).
Bihu is the most celebrated festival of Assam. It is a festival that transcends all religious and class barriers bringing people together in a free and uninhabited manner.
The festival of Bihu is celebrated with much pomp and fervour during different periods of the year. These are the festivals of food that mark the three stages of cultivation, i.e. beginning of the agricultural season, completion of transplantation and end of the harvesting season.
These festivals are celebrated by all people of various states irrespective of caste, creed and religion. Bihu is secular in concept because it is associated with agriculture.
Three forms of Bihu are celebrated in Assam: Bohag Bihu, celebrated in the middle of April which marks the New Year (In Assamese calendar) at the advent of seeding time; Kati Bihu, celebrated in the middle of October which marks the completion of sowing and transplanting of paddies; Magh Bihu, celebrated in the middle of January which marks the end of the harvesting period.
Out of the three bihus, Magh Bihu is celebrated by the people of Assam with much enjoyment and happiness as it marks the ending of harvesting and people are at ease after a long labourious harvesting period.
Magh Bihu, also known as Bhogali Bihu, celebrated in mid-January, originates from the word 'Bhog' and signifies eating and enjoyment. It is a harvest festival and marks the end of harvesting season. Buffalo Fight during Bhogali Bihu
There is a lot of feasting and eating in this bihu celebration as the fields are full. On the eve of the bihu, called 'uruka', young men go to the field, preferably near a river, build a makeshift cottage called 'Bhelaghar' with the hay of the harvest fields and the 'Meji', the most important thing for the night. During the night, people prepare food and there is community feasting everywhere. The entire night (Uruka) is spent around the Meji with people singing bihu songs, beating 'Dhol', a typical kind of drums or playing games.
The next day is the main Magh Bihu. In the very early morning, people take bath and burn the main 'Meji'. People gather around the 'Meji' and throw 'Pithas' (rice cakes) and betel nuts to the fire while burning it at the same time. They offer their prayers to the God of Fire and mark the end of the harvesting year. Next day is followed with community celebrations all across with rice cakes being distributed to all. People visit relatives and friends to convey and exchange Bihu greetings.
A peculiarity of this festival is that in some parts of the state the traditional "Buffalo Fight" is organized to make the festival more interesting.