GUWAHATI: The Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal and London Bridge will be among the world-famous structures and monuments which will get reduced to ashes on Saturday night. Confused? Well, these are hay and bamboo replicas of famous buildings that will be set on fire to create a bonfire, called ‘Meji,’ as part of the three-day celebrations of the Assamese harvest festival Magh Bihu, popularly called Bhogali Bihu. Bhogali comes from the word “bhog” which means feast.
Magh Bihu is a time for community feasting and thanksgiving to God for a rich harvest and on Saturday, people will light the ‘Meji’ and seek the blessings of elders. They will throw rice cakes and betel nuts into the fire and offer prayers. The rituals will be followed by a community feast.
Meanwhile, the increasing competition to erect eye-catching replicas has led to some criticism from traditionalists who say that erection and then burning of replicas of historical buildings, monuments and temples is not part of the tradition. They also point out that dance is an integral part of the spring festival Rongali Bihu, not Magh Bihu.
“…What people are doing now is not the culture of the Assamese. We should be able to reject them,” said Asom Sanmilita Mahasangha in a statement. It appealed to the people to protect the purity and tradition of Bihu.
Meanwhile, Governor Jagdish Mukhi extended Bihu greetings to the people of Assam. “Bihu symbolises the spirit of integrity, brotherhood and camaraderie amongst all the people irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or language. It is a festival of community feasting and symbolises love and mutual respect. The spontaneous celebrations of the Bhogali Bihu by people transcending all social barriers symbolize the spirit of unity amidst diversity,” the governor said in his message.