Guwahati, Jan. 12: It is the time when people bond, make merry and feast and the Bihu spirit seems to have inspired people across Assam this time to strive for the most striking bhelaghars and the tallest mejis.
While residents of Hugrajuli Panchnoi in Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district have made a bhelaghar (a structure made of bamboo, hay, dry leaves, wood, twigs) replicating the Titanic, people of Demow in Upper Assam’s Sivasagar district have made theirs in the form of a temple. Another bhelaghar, which has caught the eye of people in Sonitpur, is the replica of a train.
The competitive spirit has also spilled into the construction of mejis (tall structures made of wood and hay). People of one area are competing with others to set up the tallest meji.
While Rangiya residents have made a meji in the shape of a temple, denizens of Dhakuakhana are aiming high with a 120-feet tall structure. Residents feel the taller the meji, the longer it will burn to keep away the winter chill.
The also believe the flames which embrace the meji will be offered prayers and items like mah, til, gram and betel nut, as the fire is considered to be the king because of the arrival of the windy season.
Bhogali is nothing without fish and, hence, people will go to beels, rivers or ponds near their homes to get the best catch. Vendors at Uzan Bazar ghat are hoping for bigger fish.
“Most of the best fish arrive early morning tomorrow. We hope to get bigger and better fish for customers,” said a vendor. Sitol, ari, rohu, borali and bhokua are some of the fish in demand.
After a night of feasting, people get ready for dessert the morning after and they can take their pick from the various varieties of pitha (traditional cakes made of ground rice and sesame) — tel pitha, til pitha, ghila pitha, tekeli pitha, bhapotdiya pitha, xutuli pitha. In addition to the pithas, soaked rice and sira and doi (curd) are essential to make the feast complete.
At least three bhogali melas are being held here where all these traditional delicacies are on display and most participants will round up their stalls early tomorrow and rush home to celebrate Bihu with their families. The day will also see bulbul fights at Hajo in Kamrup district. In the villages, traditional games such as kukura juj (cock fights), koni juj (egg fights) and tekeli bhonga (breaking pots) will be organised.
Forest staff who do not have the chance to meet their families also had a reason to cheer after forest minister Rakibul Hussain distributed sweaters, monkey caps, torches, thermal innerwear and Bihu delicacies to staff at Kaziranga National Park, Orang National Park and Pobitora wildlife sanctuary yesterday. The items will be distributed in Manas tomorrow. “This is a good move to motivate the forest staff,” a forest official said.