| A woman makes pithas at a village in Sivasagar on Friday. Picture by Eastern Projections |
Guwahati, Jan. 11: Bonfire and a grand feast is what Magh Bihu meant to 12-year-old Anushmita Kashyap.
This Bihu, however, the Don Bosco student and many of her friends will get a glimpse of the tradition associated with one of the biggest festivals of Assam.
They will participate in an all-inclusive Bihu celebration, organised by the government-supported Indrapastha Community Development Organisation, in Jorhat. The organisation had won the Best Community Award instituted by Dispur last year.
Asam Sahitya Sabha, the largest socio-literary organisation of the state, said the Jorhat celebrations could go a long way in reviving lost traditions. “We have been campaigning for a traditional Bihu, both Magh and Bohag, celebrations. Many of our traditions are lost and the youngsters know little about how the festivals were celebrated in their purest forms. This move should do wonders and inspire others to follow,” sabha president Kanak Sen Deka told The Telegraph.
Jogeswar Dutta, the president of Indrapastha Community Development Organisation, expressed similar views.
“The urban youth know very little about the tradition associated with Bihu. For them Bihu is a synonym for bonfire and a grand feast. Our celebrations will help our children to know more about our culture,” Dutta said.
Traditional Assamese games like tekeli bhonga (pot-breaking) will be played and ethnic dishes served at the celebrations.
Though animal lovers may shudder at the idea, the organisers are also planning to arrange a buffalo fight, which was very popular during Bihu celebrations in the Ahom era.
“We are trying to arrange a buffalo fight without being seen as too cruel. We understand that such blood sport is archaic, but we would like to stick to tradition with restraint,” Deka said. “We will ensure that the buffaloes are not injured too much or killed,” he added.
Besides, children will stage a play on the day of Bihu to pass on the message of Bhogali Bihu, the organisation’s secretary, Amrit Ranjan Bezbaruah, said.
A member of the organisation said apart from being a harvest festival, Magh Bihu also has scientific connotations as it corresponds with the summer solstice.
Another unique feature of the celebrations will be contribution in kind (not in cash) by members of the community. It is a tradition to place offerings to the elders of the community at the namghar and seeking their blessings.
The Indraprastha community has around 45 families, but anyone is free to participate in their celebrations, the organisers said.
“Bihu is all about bonding,” Bezbaruah said.