GUWAHATI: Assam’s harvest festival Magh Bihu this year is being used by the Assamese as a platform to register a protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
Copies of the controversial Act will be burned statewide as people soak in the spirit of Magh Bihu, also called Bhogali Bihu.
It is a time for community feasting and thanksgiving to god for a rich harvest. Late Tuesday night, the Assamese will get together around the Meji (bonfire) and seek the blessings of elders. They will throw pithas (rice cakes) and betel nuts in the fire and offer prayers as part of the celebration. The rituals will be followed by a community feasting, which is usually organized in the field.
An addition this year will be the burning down of copies of CAA on Tuesday night in Meji as a mark of protest. Earlier, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), spearheading the anti-CAA protests, had announced that copies of CAA would be burnt in Meji.
People at large are angry that the government will “rehabilitate” lakhs of “Hindu Bangladeshis” by violating Clause 5 of the Assam Accord of 1985 which says the immigrants, irrespective of their faith who migrated after March 24, 1971, are to be detected and deported.
Posters and banners against CAA have been put up not only at open fields where people will light Meji and take part in community feasting but also at marketplaces where people are selling Bihu foodstuffs and other items. Bihu songs have been also composed with CAA as the theme and a call to drive out the “Bangladeshis”.
“CAA aami namanu” (we reject CAA), a banner, put up at a stall selling Bihu foodstuffs in an open space in Guwahati, reads. People are using the Bihu to send across a message to the powers-that-be that they denounce CAA.
Meanwhile, despite chilly weather conditions and the skyrocketing of prices of essential commodities, the markets across the state are bustling with people doing Bihu shopping.
The ruling BJP, which is facing the wrath of people over CAA, extended its Bihu greetings to people. It is optimistic that the festivity will strengthen the bond of friendship and brotherhood among people.