Magh Bihu, also known as Bhogali Bihu or Maghi, is a festival celebrated by the people of Assam, India. It marks the end of the harvest season and is considered a time to give thanks to the god of agriculture and the ancestors for a bountiful harvest and good life. People gather with their friends and family to feast on the new harvest, engage in traditional activities, prepare traditional Assamese food and sweets and build temporary huts, which are burned as a sign of the end of old and the start of new. The festival holds both agricultural and social significance, as it is a time to renew ties of friendship and brotherhood, and for young men and women to come together. (Also read: 5 types of pithas to celebrate Magh Bihu )
Magh Bihu is typically celebrated in January and marks the end of the harvesting season. The date for Magh Bihu 2023 festival is January 15 as per the traditional calendar of Assam. The date of Magh Bihu can vary from year to year based on the lunar calendar. The festival has its roots in the agricultural traditions of the region and is celebrated in the Assamese month of Magh, which falls in January.
History of Magh Bihu:
Bihu’s history dates back to ancient times (3500 BC), when people offered fire sacrifices in order to improve their harvest, according to some scholars. The Dimasa Kacharis, an agricultural tribe that lived in the northeastern region of the world thousands of years ago, is thought to be the festival’s first known ancestors.
According to the Vishnu Puran, there used to be a festival called Bisuva that was observed as the sun shifted from one sign of the Hindu zodiac calendar to another. Bihu is regarded as the contemporary equivalent of the Bisuva celebration.
Significance of Magh Bihu:
Bihu is believed to have originated from the word “bishu,” which means “to seek for peace.” The event emphasises sharing meals with the community, as the word “bhog” means “eating.” It is a traditional festival of Assam, that holds both agricultural and social significance. Agriculturally, it marks the end of the harvest season and is a way to give thanks to the god of agriculture and ancestors for a bountiful harvest and good life.
Socially, Magh Bihu is a time to renew ties of friendship and brotherhood, as people from all over the community come together to celebrate. It’s also a time for young men and women to come together, traditional games, and sports. The festival has a spiritual significance as people visit temples and offer prayers to the gods for a bountiful harvest.
Celebrated over two days, the first day of Magh Bihu is known as Uruka or Bihu eve. On this, young people—mostly men—go to the fields and construct improvised huts or Bhelaghar. Bamboo, leaves, and thatch are used to construct these homes. Another essential component of Magh Bihu is a Meji, or campfire.
Early on Bihu morning, a bonfire is lit, and the gods are prayed to. People prepare meals and spend the night dancing and singing around the Meji on the night of Uruka. The main Magh Bihu is observed the next day. People take a bath early in the morning and burn the Meji on this day.
The festivities also include tekeli bhonga (pot-breaking) and buffalo fighting, two traditional Assamese games. There are also cock fights and egg fights. The festival’s main attraction, rice cakes, are given out to everyone. Numerous varieties of rice cakes are among the other delicacies. These are referred to as til (sesame), narikol (coconut), tekeli, ghila, and sunga pithas. Laru, a type of coconut-based sweet, is also produced. Sesame, coconut, and murmura, or puffed rice, are also used to make laddoo.
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