General introduction: The BIHU is one of the harvest festivals of the Assamese. It is celebrated thrice in a year – once in the winter season, on the Pous Sankranti day, or the last day of the month of and again on the Vishuva Sankranti day (which is the last day of the Bengali year), and again in the month of Kartic.
Description of the Three Bihu festivals:
1. RONGALI BIHU
The Vishuva Sankranti day festival is celebrated with pomp and grandeur. In Assamese language, it is called ‘RONGALI BIHU or ‘BOHAG BIHU’.
‘RONGALI” means ‘delightful’. This festival is held to give expression to the joy of the people at the advent of spring. Then trees and creepers are adorned with flowers and various colors. Nature assumes a charming appearance.
People spend the first day in prayer, worship, and charity. They take their bath in holy tanks and rivers. Sometimes even cattle are made to bathe on this occasion. People put on new clothes on the second day.
This festival lasts for a week. Dances, songs, known as ‘Huchari’, feasts and entertainment go on. The air becomes alive with the sounds of drums and merry-making. But the most interesting part of the festival arc bull-fights, cock-fights, or game of eggs.
2. BHOGALI BIHU
The Pous Sankranti day festival is called BHOGALI BIHU or the MAGH BIHU. At dawn, people worship the god of fire. They build a temple-like structure with a heap of bamboos, wood and paddy stubble. It is called ‘Meji’ in Assamese language. Boys and youths of every family bathe before sunrise on the day of the festival and burn the ‘Meji’. Then they spend their time in feasting.
3. KONGALI BIHU:
The KATI BIHU or the KONGALI BIHU is celebrated in the month of Kartik. On this occasion, people put lights on the top of bamboo poles. Lamps or ‘pradips’ are put at the foot of ‘tulshi’ plants, is practically no feasting or merriment. So it is called ‘Kangali Bihu’.
The Bihu festival is an important festival of the Assamese people. It gives expression to their culture and civilization.