The Spirit of Bihu
A Young Bihu Nasoni
Bihu, is the national festival of Assam, is basically an agricultural festival with rich cultural ingredients. Assamese people celebrate three Bihus; Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu (the Spring Bihu), Magh or Bhogali Bihu (The Harvest Bihu) and Kati or Kongali Bihu (the Autumn Bihu). Bihu is celebrated by the people of Assam irrespective of their religion, culture and locality.
In general, Bihu is the symbol of Assamese cultural unity, and depicts the spirit of Assam, in an otherwise diverse ethno-economic composition. Now the vital identity of the culture of Assam, Bihu is a result of fusion of Mongoloid and Austro Asiatic cultures, in this enchanting land. Almost all the tribes in Assam also accommodated Bihu into their own indigenous culture. However, in course of time Bihu has changed it's face, which was of course inevitable, the spirit still remains among the hearts of Assamese people.
The cultural aspect of Bihu is the most important part of it. Its music, dances, songs, musical instruments etc., are invariably indigenous and depicts the rural agrarian life of Assamese people in totality. All of them reveal the unique Assamese character, thus becoming the identity of the growing global Assamese community.
Out of three Bihus, Rongali Bihu celebrated in the spring season, (Mid January) is the festival of Joy, vitality and fertility. The young people sing and dance, meet and express affection to each other, offer respect to the elders, and most importantly, get an opportunity to find their life partners. The Bihu Songs and dances do have a sensuous element in them, and the ambience during this season also add to it. People believe that this sensuous ambience improve the fertility of the cultivable land. Traditionally Bohag Bihu is celebrated for seven days and Assamese new Year starts on the first day.
In different communities and regions of Assam, Bohag Bihu is celebrated in slightly varied forms and the festival in known with different names. Bihu is understood to be a chronicle of the age long formation of Assamese culture, so the origin and trends cannot be enumerated exactly. However substantial work has been done to construe the course of development of Bihu, but yet to reach in a unanimous conclusion. But, it is for sure that, Bihu, symbolizes the fortitude of being an Assamese, and maintains its uniqueness in changing faces of time.
For more on Bihu of Assam please refer to the following links.
Bihu is a festival of song and dance, hence the musical instruments played in Bihu are of also vital importance. As mentioned earlier, Bihu has undergone through a several facelifts, and the Bihu enjoyed by the rural people in the paddy field under the banyan tree is now a performance of the professionals on stage for elite audience. The musical instruments played in Bihu and originally creations of musically illiterate farmers are being analyzed and developed by experts on the field of Music.