Bohag Bihu Festival: The Heartbeat of Assam
Tags: Assam Arts & crafts, Assam Food Culture, Bihu Costumes, Bihu Dance, Bihu Festival Assam, Bohag Bihu, Farmstay, Handloom Heritage Village, Indian Culture, Indian Fair & Festivals, Muga Silk Assam, Places to Visit in Assam, Rural India Festivals, Rural Tourism, Sualkuchi Handloom
If your hectic schedule makes it impossible to plan a full-fledged vacation, then participating in a cultural festival is the best way to experience the different facets of a region’s heritage, in a limited amount of time. A quick getaway to an exotic destination during the festival season offers a glimpse of the essence of the region, from the food to the fashion and the customs to the crafts. Similarly, a great way to experience the true culture of Assam is to pay a visit to this kingdom of the mighty Brahmaputra during the Bohag Bihu festival.
The magnificent state of Assam, on the north-eastern fringe of India, comes to life during the days leading up to Bohag Bihu, the local harvest festival of the state. This glorious celebration brings together people of different castes and creeds as they rejoice to the sound of traditional Bihu music. Observed on the first weekend of April, Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu marks the beginning of the new agricultural calendar. People clad in traditional costumes pay homage to their tribal roots while hoping for days of bountiful crops and prosperity ahead. Bohag Bihu is the best way to enjoy the Assamese music, dance, handicrafts, and cuisine. Here are a few of the experiences that make this festival a brilliant display of Assam culture.
1. Bihu Dance and Costumes
No celebration of Bohag Bihu is complete without several rounds of the famous Bihu dance. Men and women dressed in the beautiful Bihu costumes swing to the beats of the drums in an extremely graceful manner. Brisk foot movements and unique hand poses are characteristics of this wonderful dance form. The men drape a dhoti around their legs and an intricately designed Gamcha over their chests, while the women adorn a Mekhala, a cotton or silk sari worn in Assamese style, with a vibrant red blouse.
2. Assam Arts and Crafts
The people of Assam have been hailed as skilled craftsmen since the ancient times. Bamboo and cane grow in abundance in this region, therefore, a wide variety of household and decorative items are created using these materials. The most popular handicraft goods of Assam are the Assam silk fabrics and the cane furniture. The iconic symbol of this region is the Jaapi or headgear that offers protection from the sunlight. You can purchase this bamboo hat and various other handcrafted items from the stalls that are ubiquitous during the Bihu festivities.
3. Silk Weaving at Handloom Heritage Village
Visit the village of Sualkuchi, popularly known as the Handloom Heritage Village, to enhance your knowledge about silk production. This quaint village on the outskirts of Guwahati is primarily occupied by weavers, who create yards of exquisite silk that is used for making the Mekhala Chadors and Gamchas. This tiny riverside village has a legacy in weaving that dates back to the British era. Interact with the third and fourth generations of weavers to learn the traits of the trade that help to produce the finest Muga and Pat silk.
4. Participate in Traditional Assamese Sports
The energetic atmosphere of the Bihu festival is incredibly infectious. Amidst the cheer and merrymaking, the local Assamese sports stand out as intriguing activities. Join the fun by trying your hand at the game of Tekeli Bhonga, where you have to try and smash an earthen pot while you are blindfolded. Crowds also gather to witness a clash among hens and a round of buffalo fighting. These interesting games are an integral part of the local customs of Assam. Other events such as magic shows are also arranged at some locations.
5. Try Out The Culinary Delights of Assam
The kitchens of Assam emanate mouth-watering aromas during the Bohag Bihu celebrations. The main ingredients of the dishes prepared during this festival are rice, milk, jaggery, sesame seeds and coconut. One must try the flat rice bread or Pitha which is a speciality of this region. Bite into the Larus, sweet balls made out of coconut and rice, or sit down for Jolpan, an elaborate meal comprising of different snacks. These irresistible dishes will keep your taste buds satisfied, so that you may enjoy the Bihu festival to the fullest.
Where to Stay:
If you are looking for places to stay during Bihu festival then an Assam farmstay is the most affordable and offbeat option. These accommodations can easily be found in and around Assam and offer an opportunity to connect with the local people, while experiencing the authentic native food and culture. They are designed keeping the travellers from different locations in mind, and will make your Bihu experience even more enjoyable.
How to get the most from a festival:
Do read in advance about the different aspects of Bihu, respect the local customs and strike conversations with the native artists, to make the most of this amazing trip. Bihu is a lovely festival if you are willing to try out new things with an open mind.