Dr Tapashi Gupta
Bihu is the “National Festival of Assam”. People of both the valleys of Assam comes alive during this festival. The state’s biggest festival, the Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu, which could not be celebrated last year because of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, is all set to play out in this sylvan landscape.
Assam on Friday ushered in celebrations for Rongali Bihu, the state’s most colourful festival.
The Bohaag Bihu marks a new year at the beginning of seeding time. Also called Rongaali Bihu. Bohaag Bihu comes in a time of great enjoyment. It marks the arrival of Spring. The folk songs performed are Bihu songs or Bihugeets. The Bohaag Bihu lasts for several days during which the youngsters in a village can be dancing in groups dressed joyfully, or they can be seen dancing around the girls in a circle. Such gatherings arecalled Mukoli Bihus. Bihu Sanmelan is very famous festive gathering of bihu artists in all over North East India. People of both the valleys of Assam celebrates Bihu with great joy and enthusiasm. People also recited traditional hymns while praying for good health of the animal. Although Rongali Bihu is a week-long festival, celebrations continue for the whole month various cultural programmes and functions.
The Bihu dance is an indigenous folk dance and it has become the identity of the northeastern state. The ethnic groups Deoris, Sonowal Kacharis, Moran, Borahis, etc consider Bihu an integral part of their culture, performed in a group, the Bihu dancers are usually young men and women, and the dancing style is characterized by brisk steps, and rapid hand movements. The traditional costume of dancers is colorful and centred round the red colour theme, signifying joy and vigour. People wear traditional attires like Dhoti, Gamocha and Chadar, Mekhala. Children are seen with flower garlands and wish everyone in their neighbourhood a happy new year. In both the valleys of Assam there are many organizations which organizes Bihu songs and dance programmes, which are called Bihu Sanmelan and at the time of ending of the month Bahagi Biday etc.
Though the government is keeping a constant watch on the rising number of Covid cases, Bihu organizers said that they are gearing up for ‘uninterrupted Bihu celebrations’ this year. In upper Assam, where the revelry continues for more than a week, the people are already in a celebratory mood. After months of anxiety and uncertainty last year, they are ready to welcome the spring this year.
Bihu exponent Ranjit Gogoi, who is training youngsters in his Rupnagar home here, said his team is very excited about performing on stage. They have appealed to government to give them the Covid guide rules but still they didn’t get any response from the authorities and their preparations are going on for the celebrations. We are not in favour of banning Rongali Bihu celebrations, unless the Covid situation is grave. We have presumed that the Rongali Bihu celebration is on,” said Guwahati Bihu Sanmiloni, Latashil, adviser Kailash Sarma. After the Brihattar Guwahati Bihu Sammanwayrakkhi Samiti, the coordination committee of the Bihu celebration committees in the city, decided not to hold cultural programmes that were scheduled to be staged in major Bihu pandals here, last year due to Covid, the All Assam Students’ Union also cancelled the Mukoli Bihu that has been celebrated in the open air at the historic Judges’ Field for years.
The Silchar Rongali Bihu Sanmillan organized Rongali Bihu Utsav in association of various communities of Barak Valley being held at Deshbhakta Tarun Ram Phukan High School Premises with two/three days programme every year except last year due to Covid pandemic.
Kanyaka Multipurpose Agri Farm organized a Bihu dance workshop at Sootea last month.
The Bihu workshop was ceremonially inaugurated on Tuesday 6th April , 2021 by Sootea constituency sitting MLA Padma Hazarika.
He welcomed the trainers and felicitated them with Assamese traditional ‘Gamocha’. Padma Hazarika was seen singing Bihu song. A good number of performers participated in the workshop. Kids were seen practicing the Bihu dance.
Another Bihu dance workshop was organized at Ganeshguri Ganesh temple, Ganesh Park in Guwahati on Monday.
A good number of performers participated in the workshop, which was organized by Satsari Women’s group for 6 days. More than 150 participants including children’s took part in the workshop from various parts of Guwahati.
Some of the Bihu organizing committee has accepted the SOP given by the state government regarding the Corona pandemic, some are opposing and asking for more relaxation in SOP. Whatever the SOP, Bihu will be celebrated this year and Bihu celebrating preparation is at the peak in the state. Bihu brings people of both the valleys of Assam, hills and plains closer, Assamese cultural identity strengthen the friendship and camaraderie among the people across ethnicities, caste, creed and religion.