GUWAHATI: The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown may have confined people to their homes in Assam but failed to dampen their Bihu spirit.
People are celebrating Rongali Bihu – the spring festival – at home. Some of the revellers streamed the celebrations live on Facebook.
Following the government’s guidelines on social distancing, the Bihu committees limited the celebration to hoisting the Bihu flag and singing the flag-hoisting song.
“We have cancelled all Bihu programmes this year. At the Latasil ground, the Guwahati Bihu Sanmilani had a brief programme today (Monday) where a small group of people hoisted the Bihu flag and sang the flag-hoisting song,” Kailash Sarma, who is the advisor to the Greater Guwahati Bihu Coordination Committee, told The New Indian Express.
He said they had also prayed to God to give scientists the power to discover medicines to repulse the COVID-19 virus.
Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta extended their greetings on the occasion.
Mahanta tweeted: “Bihu Committees are requested to kindly organise only flag hoisting ceremonies with max 5 people, restrict to 30 mins & observe strict #SocialDistancing. Citizens are requested to please celebrate within their homes.”
The first day of Rongali Bihu is called “Goru” (cow) Bihu. The day is dedicated to the bovine creature that is inherently linked to Assam’s agrarian economy and rural life.
On this day, people usually mill around rivers, ponds and other water bodies in the morning and give their cows the ceremonial bath by rubbing the leaves of a medicinal plant to keep flies and insects at bay. This year, they did it at home. On the second day on Tuesday, people will wear new clothes and indulge in singing and dancing but at home.
The Rongali Bihu, which marks the onset of Assamese New Year, is among three Bihus. The others being Magh Bihu, also called Bhogali Bihu, and Kati Bihu. Rongali Bihu is a time of feasting and merry-making. To the farmers, it is a time to prepare their fields for cultivation.