Bohag Bihu also called as Rongali Bihu, is the most celebrated Bihu among the three, as it celebrates Assamese New Year and the beginning of the agricultural season. Bihu refers to a set of three different festivals namely Rongali or Bohag Bihu (celebrated in April), Kongali or Kati Bihu (celebrated in October) and Bhogali or Magh Bihu (celebrated in January). Bohag Bihu is celebrated by gorging on traditional Assamese food and preparing the fields for cultivation of paddy. It is also a fertility festival, where people, especially women, dance with their signature steps using hips and arms. The songs associated with the festival are called Bihu geets or Bihu songs. To celebrate the festival of harvest and the abundance of crops, Bohag Bihu is celebrated by cooking green leafy vegetables. Other food items that hold significance during the festival are rice, sesame, milk, jaggery, and milk products.
In 2019, Bohag Bihu commences on April 15 and ends on April 21.
Seven-day celebration (7 pinnacle phases) of Bohag Bihu
The seven-day festival is also called as ‘Xaat Bihu’ and the days are known as Raati Bihu, Chot Bihu, Goru Bihu, Manuh Bihu, Kutum Bihu, Mela Bihu, and Chera Bihu.
This phase commences on the first night of Chaitra and lasts till Uruku. Celebrations involve the gathering of local women of the local women in an open field illuminated by lighting up the torches. Men folks participate to play ‘pepa‘, an instrument made from buffalo hornpipe, and ‘bholuka baahor toka‘, a musical instrument made of split bamboo.
Also known as Bali Husori, the phase begins on the second day of Chaitra and is celebrated by organising dance and song events by the young at a field or a community prayer hall.
It is the last day of Chaitra month. On this day, cattle are brought to a water source and are washed and cleaned using turmeric and gram paste. The cattle are thanked for giving good harvest and are offered vegetables and ‘Bor Pitha’ – a delicacy made from rice and jaggery. The day ends by burning rice bran.
Manuh Bihu falls on the first day of the Vaisakh month and is celebrated by having a special bath, seeking blessings from elders and wearing new clothes. The elders in the family are gifted the Gamusa cloth or Bihuwan as a symbol of cultural pride and respect.
On this day, people visit the houses of their relatives and friends to greet and bond over a meal. ‘Kutum’ symbolizes family.
The day is marked by cultural events, fairs, and competitions. These fairs and events are attended by people from all over Assam.
Also called as Bohagi Bidai, it the last day if Rangali Bihu and is celebrated differently in different regions. The common theme is to wrap the festival with future resolutions. On this day people exchange ‘pithas‘ among their family and friends.