Magh Bihu – Celebrating the harvest festival of Assam
Fun, Food & Fire
Magh Bihu is one of the most important community festivals in Assam. It is the harvest festival celebrated by the Assamese people in the local month of Magh during mid-January. Magh Bihu is also called as Bhogali Bihu (Bhogali means handiness of rich food) as it is celebrated with community feasts after the annual harvest. The highlight of this festival is the food due to the abundance of grains after the harvest.
The night before Magh Bihu is called Uruka, it is the night of feasts. Villagers make bamboo huts called “Bhelaghor”, or community kitchen and begin the preparations. Various dishes, vegetables, meat items and sweets such as Pitha, Laru are made out of sesame, molasses and coconut are prepared. The next morning, the community gathers to light the Meji, a large bon fire and pray for a better harvest in the year ahead. Offerings are made to the sacred fire and people later indulge in traditional Jolpan breakfast. Indigenous games such as Dhop Khel, Pot breaking, Egg fights and Buffalo fighting can be also a part of the celebrations. Community fishing by the tribes in the large wetlands can be also seen.
Like all other Bihu, Magh Bihu also has the ritual of showing respect to the elders with Gamosa.
The festival also marks Makr Sankranti, or the transit of the sun towards the Tropic of Cancer. Many other communities across India also celebrate the same occasion as it marks the end of winter and the beginning of longer days.