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A popular harvest festival celebrated in the state of Assam, Bohag Bihu marks the beginning of seeding time. It is one part of the annual Bihu festival, which is celebrated thrice a year, with Kati Bihu and Magh Bihu being observed in the months of October and January, respectively. While the former marks the completion of sowing, the latter stands for the culmination of the harvesting period.
Bohag Bihu is the most significant of the three as it marks the start of the Assamese New Year. It is also called Rongaali (rong meaning joy) as is a time of joy and optimism for all.
How is it celebrated?
Bohag Bihu is celebrated for seven days. The first day or Garu Bihu is the time when people pray for the safety and wellbeing of their livestock. Symbolically, they take their cattle to rivers and bathe them. On the second day or Manuh Bihu, people apply turmeric paste and bathe. It is a time for feasting and traditional delicacies like larus or laddoos and pithas or rice cakes are prepared. Celebrations are held in almost every part of the state and people visit each other and exchange 'gamosa', which is a traditional Assamese red and white handwoven cotton towel. The following day is called Guxai Bihu, meaning Bihu of the household deities. The fourth day is called Taator Bihu or Bihu for the handlooms. The fifth and sixth days are respectively called Nangolor Bihu, celebrated for farm equipment, and Gharosia Jibar Bihu, which is celebrated for domestic animals. The last day is Chera Bihu.
Throughout the festival, people dance and sing to celebrate their joy. Folk songs called Bihu Geet are sung all around; these are a symbolic expression of love and romance.