Come April, the North Eastern state of Assam gears up for the celebration of its most significant cultural festival called Rongali Bihu, which marks the beginning of the Assamese New Year and also the harvest season. Throughout the year, the Assamese celebrate three kinds of Bihu namely bhogali bihu, rongali bihu and kangali bihu. All three festivals revolve around the agrarian activities that are the state's prime means of livelihood. With the arrival of the Rongali Bihu, the whole state livens up with beats of Bihu song and dance.
During our Assam Food Tour last year, we had the opportunity to witness the celebrations around the Rongali Bihu at a beautiful village in Tinsukia district named Betoni Gaon. It is celebrated with much gaiety including songs, dance, games and feasts.
We reached there a day prior to Goru Bihu, which falls on the last day of the ending year. The warm reception bestowed by the villagers was so overwhelming. The chatter and the busy activities all around the place marked the preparations that were underway. Children and the youth seemed most excited.
On the day of Goru Bihu we joined our host to witness all the activities. He told us that it's a day dedicated to the cattle which are a significant part of the agrarian way of life here in Assam. On this day people bathe and feed the called and express gratitude for their presence. They also wish for their well-being. These rituals involve fun, frolic, and excitement. One such fun activity that takes place on this day is the Koni Kuj or the egg fight game. It's a super fun game that is enjoyed by everybody.
The following day is the first day of the Assamese New year. People begin the day by seeking blessings from the elders. They also give gamosas, ritualistic clothes, to them as a mark of respect. This day is enjoyed through song, dance, and feast. The festive foods mostly include pithas and jolpan. The pithas are prepared a day or two prior to the new year. Til pithas is the most significant pitha that is prepared during Bihu. Made with rice flour and a mixture of sesame and jaggery, the making of snack entails a lot of skill and practice. The fresh and hot pithas tasted amazing.
On the morning of Goru Bihu we feasted on a hearty breakfast of Komal Saul, Jaggery and milk. After that, we set out to see the star attraction of the bihu celebration i.e the Bihu Dance. The rhythmic and rustic music and the brisk dance forms performed by the women folks with such fervor left us spellbound with joy. We hope you to will enjoy the small glimpse of this celebration as much as we did.