Assam celebrates Bihu festival with bonfires, feastingBy IANS
Saturday, January 15, 2011
GUWAHATI - Bonfires and community feasts were held across Assam as the state celebrated the harvest festival of Magh Bihu Saturday.
Magh Bihu also known as Bhogali Bihu is a two-day festival and dedicated to Lord Agni, the Hindu fire god.
People across Assam early Saturday made bonfires of ‘mejis’ and ‘bhelaghars’.
The ‘meji’ is a high temple like structure made by piling firewood, bamboo, and hay stacks, while ‘bhelaghar’ is a makeshift cottage made of bamboo and hay set up close to the ‘meji’.
To denote that the festival has begun, the ‘mejis’ and ‘bhelaghars’ were set on fire early Saturday and people offered prayers at Nam Ghars or temples.
Uruka is the first day of the festival that began Friday evening, while the actual Magh Bihu falls Saturday.
Community feasts were held on the Uruka night with varieties of fish and meat being served.
People across Assam scattered the ashes of the ‘mejis’ and ‘bhelaghar’ on the farmlands as the belief has it that it increases land fertility.
While the bonfires were seen mostly in villages, people residing in towns and cities also celebrated Bihu although without the bonfires due to constraint of open space.
“We did light a small ‘meji’ and offered prayers,” said Nirmala Das, a Guwahati resident.
On the Magh Bihu day Saturday, the midday lunch would generally include ‘chira’ (flattened rice), ‘pitha’ (rice cakes), and curds.
Bullfights are held that attract huge crowds as well as bird fights, and other traditional sports.