Assam’s Bihu Festivals.
We were entertained by the local villagers, performing the Bihu dance one of the traditional Assamese dances, generally performed during Bihu Festival. The Bihu is not an Assamese tribal dance although it has some links with some tribal dances.
We travelled to Assam with the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, a wildlife charity who have been funding research into conservation of threatened species such as the one horned rhino, Asian elephant and leopard.
The Assamese community/nation is an amalgamation of a number of different communities/tribes such as the Ahom, Bodo, Mishing, Kachari , Indo-Aryan etc. The Ahoms which rule Assam 600 hundreds years, from 1228, played a vital role in the nation building process, part of which was establishing the Bihu festival as the main Assamese festival.
The different tribal communities across Assam, all perform the Bihu dance but with slight variations, all following the main theme of the Assamese national Bihu dance. During the performance of the Bihu there are songs along with the dance itself, expressing the colours and traditions of the Assamese culture. The dance covers topics such as nature, dreams and feelings of young lovers, fields of crops, trees, birds, seasons of the year, etc.
Bihu is Assam’s largest festival.
The Bihu Festival consists of a three prominent festivals to do with the seasons of the year. It is primarily a non-religious festival, celebrated to mark the farming seasons, the significant points of a cultivator’s life over a yearly cycle.
Three Assamese Bihu Festival are:-
- Bhogali or magh Bihu during mid January – the thanksgiving when the crops have been harvested and the barns are full. Bihu songs and Bihu dance are associated with the Rongali Bihu. (This is the festival we experienced during our visit, seeing the dances and eating the food, which was truly excellent in terms of the shear range of rice dishes you can produce. It really has to be experienced to be believed. The dances themselves were great to watch and enjoy, so much passion!)
- Rongali or Bohag Bihu, during mid April – celebrates the coming of spring and the beginning of the sowing season;
- Kongali or Kati Bihu, during mid October – (the barren bihu) when the fields are lush but the barns are empty.
The day before the each bihu is known as ‘Uruka’.
During your trip to Assam we strongly recommend you to try to incorporate one of these festivals in your trip. It is a great way to see how the Assamese people celebrate their culture and traditions. The Bihu Festivals of Assam.