The festival of Bohag Bihu is mainly celebrated in the state of Assam, and some neighboring northeastern states. The festival marks the Assamese New Year day. It is usually celebrated in the second week of April. Bohag Bihu 2019 will begin on April 15th and end on April 21st. The significance of this festival is mainly for the agricultural sector.
The people of Assam celebrate three primary types of Bihu, namely Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu, Kati Bihu or Kongali Bihu, and Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu. Each of these festivals recognizes a different agricultural cycle of the paddy crops.
During Rangali Bihu there are 7 pinnacle phases, called 'Chot', 'Raati', 'Goru', 'Manuh', 'Kutum', 'Mela' and ‘Chera.
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Raati Bihu begins on the first night of the month of Chot and lasts till Uruka. The rituals are usually performed underneath an ancient tree or in an open field illuminated by burning torches. It is mostly meant as a gathering for the local women.
Chot Bihu, also traditionally called Bali Husori, is the second day of the month of Chot Mah. On this day, members of Assamese community play Bihu songs and dance in fields or a naamghor bakori (which is a yard of community prayer hall) till Rongali Bihu formally begins.
On the last date of Chot month or the day of Sankranti, the first day of Rongali Bihu, Goru Bihu, is dedicated to caring and the upkeep of livestock and a cattle. The cattle are washed in a pond or river with a combination of symbolic herbs, including black gram and turmeric paste, bottle gourd, and brinjal. The cattle are decorated with new harnesses, dressed in garlands, and are fed pitha (the typical Assamese confectionery). At Dusk, the cattle are taken back to their ranches. To mark the day's end, rice bran is burnt to create smoke.
Manuh Bihu, marks the first day of the Vaisakh month. Manuh symbolises ‘elders’, and so, on this day people wear new clothes and take blessings from the elders in the family. The elders provide family members with a ceremonial patch of cloth, called Bihuwan or the Gamusa cloth, as a gift, which is to be worn as a symbol of cultural pride. A 'Gamusa' is an indispensable part for an Assamese. It is intricately handcrafted, and symbolises friendship, love, regards, warmth, hospitality.
The second day is called Kutum Bihu. Kutum means kin, and so, on this day, people visit their families, relatives and friends and enjoy together.
The third day of Bihu, Mela Bihu, is marked with cultural events and competitions in outdoor locales. In earlier times, the King and his staff would come out to such fairs or bihutolis to mingle with the common-men during the Bihu celebrations. People participate in the fairs to foster an atmosphere of communal brotherhood.
Chera Bihu, also called Bohagi Bidai and Phato Bihu, is the fourth and final day of Rongali Bihu. In different parts of Assam, as part of the tradition, people wrap up the celebrations by making resolutions and promises for the upcoming year. Family and friends exchange Pithas, which are made during the Bihu week.
Special delicacies are also prepared to celebrate the festival. These include traditional foods like khar (made from burnt banana stems), aloo pitika (a mashed potato dish), xaak (which includes the leafy vegetables), mangsho (which is a mutton curry), among others.