Bihu 2018: Date, significance and rituals of the Assamese harvest festival
Bohag Bihu will be celebrated on April 15 this year. The harvest festival and Assamese new year sees farmers express their gratitude for an abundant harvest and marks the commencement of the spring season.
The term “Bihu” is derived from bishu, a Sanskrit word that translates to asking for prosperity from the gods during the harvest season.
Unlike other festivals, Bihu is celebrated thrice a year. Bhogali or Magh Bihu is celebrated in January, Rongali or Bohag Bihu in April and Kongali or Kati Bihu in October.
People dress up in new clothes, exchange gifts and seek blessings from their elders as a good start to the new year. There is an elaborate feast to mark the occasion, and celebrations go on for seven days, with each day having a different significance.
The signature dishes that are prepared to celebrate the festival are pitha (rice cake), larus (made with rice and coconut or black sesame seeds), and savoury dishes like khar and xaak.
A traditional Bihu dance is performed by men and women and there are bihugeets or songs sung as well, to celebrate the new year.
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