Festivals of Assam

  • Rongali Bihu “the Assamese New Year” ~ Awesome Assam
Rongali Bihu Festival, Festivals of Assam, Awesome Assam, Assam Tourism

The ‘Rongali Bihu’ marks the agricultural New Year at the advent of seeding time and is celebrated as the Festival of merriment. Rongali Bihu is celebrated with greatest excitement as it marks the arrival of spring – the agricultural season. People of all faiths and creed celebrate Bohag Bihu by singing traditional Bihu geets and performing group folk dances. At the time of Rongali Bihu people welcome the spring season and pray for a bountiful and rich harvest. Bohag Bihu falls in the first month of the Assamese calendar called Bohag. This corresponds to mid-April according to English calendar year. Rongali Bihu normally starts from the 13th day of April. To celebrate the joyous Rongali Bihu festival, people of Assam wear new and colorful clothes. People visit their neighbors, friends and relatives and distribute sweet as they greet each other a Happy Bihu. Many people also organize grand feasts in the house to celebrate the occasion. Traditional festive food of ‘Rongali Bihu’ is the special cake known as the pitha. One can also get to see how the people of Assam revere and worship the cattle on the last day of Rongali Bihu on Goru-Bihu where the cattle are taken to the nearby river, rubbed with paste of mustard, raw turmeric and maati maah, bathed amid ritual songs that speak better health of the animals, fed with chaat – pieces of gourd, brinjal and bitter gourd – early morning and then tied with freshly woven ropes after the cowshed is specially cleaned with paste of mud and cow dung and densely fogged by burning hay.

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  • Magh Bihu Festival ~ Awesome Assam
Magh Bihu Festival, Festival of Assam, Awesome Assam, Assam Tourism
Sweet Offerings at the Magh Bihu Festival of Assam. Image Wikipedia

The Festival of ‘Bihu’ marks the end of the Harvest season in Assam and to celebrate this, people in Assam organize a festival that is marked by feasts and bonfires called ‘Magh Bihu’. Every year, in the month of January, young people erect makeshift huts, known as ‘Meji’ from bamboo, leaves and thatch in which they eat the food prepared for the feast and then burn the huts the next morning. This marks the onset of the festival of ‘Magh Bihu’ and people indulge in games such as ‘Tekeli bhonga (Pot breaking)’, ‘Moh Juj (Buffalo fighting)’ and ‘Kukura Juj (Cock fighting)’. At night, family members get together around a bonfire and cook dinner and indulge in merry making. Attractions of this feast are the traditional sweets prepared across all Assamese households that include rice cakes known as ‘Shunga Pitha’, ‘Til Pitha’ and sweets of Coconut called as ‘Laru’.

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  • The Ambubachi Mela Festival ~ Awesome Assam
Ambubachi Mela Kamakhya, Festivals of Assam, Awesome Assam, Assam Tourism
The Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati hosts the Ambubachi Mela Festival

The ‘Ambubachi Mela’ is one of the prominent festivals of Assam and it is held in Guwahati. Kamakhya temple of Guwahati acts as the host of this event and this festival has also been fondly called the ‘Eastern Mahakumbh’. The Gates of the temple remain closed though devotees populate the temple in high numbers to seek the blessings of the Goddess. The ‘Ambubachi Mela’ will hold special interest for you if you are interested in the occult or the ‘tantric’ sciences.

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  • The Raas Leela Festival at Majuli Island ~ Awesome Assam

Raas Leela Festival Majuli, Festivals Assam, Awesome Assam, Assam Tourism
The Raas Leela Festival at Majuli River Island. Image assamtimes.org

The ‘Raas Leela’ is an annual festival being performed on the full moon day (Purnima) in the month of November (Kati-Aghun) during the autumn season. Although it is not known for certain in which ‘Satra’ Raas Leela was first introduced in Majuli as a performing festival but this festival draws a large number of people from across the ‘Satras’ of Majuli. The ‘Raas Leela’ is the story of the life of Lord Krishna presented in the performing art form. Virtually everyone from this tinsel town participates in this festival like children acting in plays, teachers lending voice to the characters, businessmen and government employees reciting hymns and songs. The ‘Raas Leela’ at Majuli is like an all night long extravaganza with no ad breaks where everybody’s eyes are glued to the performances of the talented artists in the World’s largest inhabited river island.

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  • The Jonbeel Mela Festival “Festival of Barter Trade” ~ Awesome Assam
Jonbeel Mela Festival, Festivals of Assam, Awesome Assam, Assam Tourism
The Festival of Barter Trade ~ the Jonbeel Mela Festival

The ‘Jonbeel Mela’ – an annual occasion where a huge bazaar or ‘Mela’ is held. Tribes like Karbi, khasi, Tiwa and Jayantia come down from the hills with their products and interchange their merchandise with the local people in a barter system. It is perhaps the only fair in India where barter system still exists at least for these three days.

‘Jonbeel Mela’ is a three-day community fair held the weekend of ‘Magh Bihu’ at a historic place known as ‘Dayang Belguri’ at ‘Jonbeel’. It is 5 km from Jagiroad in Marigaon district of Assam and 32 km from Guwahati. The ‘Jonbeel’ (Jon and Beel are Assamese terms for the Moon and a wetland respectively) is so called because a large natural water body is shaped like a crescent moon.

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  • The Ali Ai Ligang Festival of the Mishing Tribes ~ Awesome Assam
Mishing Tribe Majuli, Tribes of Assam, Awesome Assam, Assam Tourism
The Mishing Tribes of Majuli Island in Assam. Image Wikipedia

How would you feel if we tell you – “Bid Goodbye to the city hustle bustle and come lets seek a life by the Banks of one of the greatest Rivers in the World – the Mighty Brahmaputra. Let’s spend our days fishing on the fresh waters of the Brahmaputra, practice the lost art of Pottery and Mask making, indulge in Organic Farming, weave out Exquisite Handicrafts of Bamboo and Cane and spend our evenings savoring freshly brewed fine local wine and Barbecued delicacies of meat and fish.”

To some this piece of advice may seem to be one of the craziest in the World whereas to some it may seem like an endless pleasure to seek the utmost solace in their life. To tell the truth, this is the actual life of the Mishing Tribal people who inhabit one of the most pristine and breathtaking location in the World – the World’s Largest Inhabited River Island of Majuli surrounded by the magical waters of the River Brahmaputra. The traditional Mishing people of Assam are mostly farmers by profession and to thank the Almighty for a seasoned crop every year they celebrate the festival of ‘Ali Ai Ligang’ in February at Majuli in Assam. The Ali-Ai-Ligang festival is the most vibrant festival of the Mishing tribal community that is spread across Majuli Island, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh and Sibsagar districts of Assam. Observed in the first Wednesday of the Ginmur Polo – month of Phagun; mid-march – Ali-Ai-Ligang is a spring dance festival that marks the sowing of seeds. In Mishing language, Ali means root, Ai or Yai means fruit and Ligang means to sow.

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  • The Me-Dam-Me-Phi Festival of the Tai Ahom Tribes ~ Awesome Assam
Me-Dam-Me-Phi-Festival, Festivals of Assam, Awesome Assam, Assam Tourism
The Me-Dam-Me-Phi Festival of the Tai Ahom Tribes

Me-dam-me-phi is celebrated by the Ahom people on 31 January every year in memory of the departed. It is the manifestation of the concept of ancestor worship that the Ahoms share with other peoples originating from the Tai-Shan stock. It is a festival to show respect to the departed ancestors and remember their contribution to society.

The Ahoms believe that a man after his death remains as ‘Dam’(ancestor) only for a few days and soon he becomes ‘Phi’ (God). They also believe that the soul of a man which is immortal unites with the supreme soul, possesses the qualities of a spiritual being and always blesses the family. So every Ahom family in order to worship the dead establish a pillar on the opposite side of the kitchen (Barghar) which is called ‘Damkhuta’ where they worship the dead with various offerings like homemade wine, mah-prasad, rice with various items of meat and fish.

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So why wait?! Plan your visit to the Land of Colorful and unending Festivals! We welcome you to our Homeland, the State of Awesome Assam, Incredible India!

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