GUWAHATI: The Assamese soaked in the spirit of Bhogali Bihu – a harvest festival also called Magh Bihu – as the state has virtually returned to pre-pandemic days.
Bhogali Bihu is a time for feasting and thanksgiving to god for a rich harvest.
The celebration began on Wednesday night when people got together around “Mejis” (houses made of straw and bamboo), lit them and sought the blessings of elders. They threw pithas (rice cakes) and areca nuts in the fire and offered prayers as part of the celebration.
The rituals were followed by community feasts, organized in the fields. Bhogali comes from the word “bhog” which in Assamese means feast.
Governor Jagdish Mukhi greeted people on the occasion.
“Bihu symbolizes the spirit of integrity, brotherhood and camaraderie amongst all the people irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or language. True to the spirit of Bhogali Bihu where Mejis are set on fire, we should all give up all our ill-feelings and consign them to the flames of Mejis to strengthen our bond of unity and friendship,” he said in his message.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and state Congress president Ripun Bora also extended their greetings.
Sonowal interacted with the students of a residential school in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia on Wednesday and distributed sweets and fruits to them. He also visited the Mata Annapurna temple at Tinsukia Gaushala.
The excitement among people this time around is more compared to last year. Bhogali Bihu in 2020 was a low-key affair given the state-wide protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Five protestors, including a teenager, had lost their lives and people were less enthusiastic about celebrating the festival.
They also could not celebrate the Rongali Bihu, a spring festival that marks the onset of Assamese New Year, last year due to COVID-induced lockdown and restrictions.
Meanwhile, as in the past, the prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed during this festive season.