From Assam with Love is about all aspects of Assam from the viewpoint of a Proud Assamese.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Magh Bihu dates, customs and traditions in Assam

Magh or Bhogali Bihu is one of the mostly celebrated festivals in Assam. This is a festival completely fun-filled, surely some amount of indulgence and naughtiness are associated with Magh or Bhogali Bihu. Bhogali bihu means the Bihu the time for enjoyment and indulgence. So lots of traditional Assamese food, sweets and snacks (actually season's best crops are available at this time of year) prepared at home, the mood of enjoyment with the coldest days of winter all make the perfect atmosphere to enjoy Bhogali in Assam.

Bhogali Bihu is celebrated in the day of Makar Sankranti, along with other Indians who are clebrating pongal, Lohri simply Makar Sankranti Sacred Snana. The main attraction as well as custom of Bhogali is the worship of Agni deva(the god of fire) in the day of Makar Sankranti. People take a Holy Dip at nearest river( I think to compensate the Ganga Snana at the auspicious day fo Makar Sankranti.). And then offer their Prayer to the community MEJI of Bhogali bihu in Assam.
The Meji is offered traditional Bhog of Mah Prasad, Tilpitha and whatever prepared by the women of the community. It is believed that Though previous couple of days of Magh Bihu are the coldest days of the season, after taking Holy Dip and offering prayer to Agnidev the winter will be gone for the coming season. We believed every inch of this when we were kids.

After offering prayer to the Meji young ones seek blessings from elders of their family.  Now its turn to devour the plates and plates of traditional fare of Mithoi, Laru, Pithas and jalpans.

However the most interesting part of the Bhogali Bihu happens in the day of URUKA, the day before Bihu. There will be one grand community feast (and several other too) in the day or night with the best food available in the locality. In the night young boys will spend the night protecting the Meji, and they will enjoy the whole night by partying..(Of course individual booze parties are high on the card now a days). Anyway, boys make it a point to steal whatever they find outside the house of the village people. They steal veggies from the kitchen garden, bamboo enclosure of the garden to keep the bon-fire going, the paultry to enjoy meat etc. But normally people do not mind it because they know who are doing it.

Another important custom of uruka day of  MAgh Bihu is Magh Nouwa. In this Magh Nouwa tradition  elders make a ritual by tieing a rope made of peddy straw to the big trees of their garden, and to the large posts of the house. Earlier traditional houses contained lots of Posts in the interior amd this was to protect them and in other word to protect the family. I remember my father still following it religiously though there are no single post in the house.

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