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Celebrating Bhogali Bihu with community fishing, Assam

Assamese villagers participate in community fishing during the Bhogali Bihu celebration at Goroimari Lake in Panbari village, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) in Guwahati,Assam, India. “Bhogali Bihu” is a harvest festival celebrated in Assam which marks the end of the harvesting season. Traditionally people use this lake for fish once in every year and thus the lake sustains its aquatic reservoir for migratory birds also.

Bhogali Bihu is celebrated in mid of January, on the first day of ‘Magh’ month of Assamese Calendar. ‘Bhogali’ means handiness of rich food. So Bhogali Bihu represents a festival of food. And because it is celebrated in the month of ‘Magh’, it is also known as ‘Magh’ Bihu. Like other two Bihu, this is also related to harvesting. Bhogali bihu is celebrated at a time when all the cultivation works get over and everyone has plenty to eat and enjoy.

The celebrations of Bhogali bihu starts one day before the actual day, i.e., on the last day of the month ‘Puh’. On this eve, people build ‘Meji’, a structure made of wood or tree leaves, that is to be burnt on the actual Bihu day. This Meji is guarded whole day night by all the people of the village. To stay for the night, people build temporary houses called ‘Bhela Ghar’. These houses are usually made up of hay. There used to be grand feasts for the people staying in the bhela ghar that night. The feast is called ‘Bhoj’.

On the actual day of Magh Bihu, everyone takes bath at the dawn itself and proceed to the meji. The Meji is lit up by one old member of the society or village. All the villagers get together in the Meji and complete many rituals. Various types edibles like coconut, betel nut, etc. are worshiped to the Meji, i.e., to the Hindu God of Fire (Agni Devta). Various types of potatoes, mitha aloo, muwa aloo, etc. are roasted in the large fire of meji and everyone eats from children to old people eat it. Youths also enjoy with cracker like thing made of bamboo called ‘Hiloi’. Magh Bihu is celebrated at a season when winter is about to go. It is believed that the fire of Meji burns the winter out!

source – http://onlinesivasagar.com/lifestyle/magh-bihu.html