Bihu Dance of Assam

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  • Topic: Assam, Bihu, Culture of Assam
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  • Published : March 21, 2011
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Bihu Dance of Assam

The Bihu dance is a folk dance from the North Eastern Indian state of Assam. It is most related to the festival more commonly known as the Rongali Bihu. This festival is the most anticipated and is celebrated with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. The festival brings together all the Assamese people, disregarding of their caste, creed and religious beliefs and ways of life. For the people of Assam, Bihu is not just an important festival but also a time to celebrate their livelihood and cultural traditions. This celebration is traced all the way back to 3500 B.C. when it was originally celebrated for a month but now is only celebrated for a week.

The land of is filled with fairs and festivals. The colorful festivals of Assam reflect the culture, tradition and lifestyle of Assam. Most of the festivals celebrated have their roots in the diverse faith and belief of the people. The three main dances of Bihu are they way the Assamese people follow what is going on in the festival. Bohag Bihu is the most important day of all and the most important dance; this day/dance begins with the sowing of seeds, Kaati Bihu marks the complete process of sowing and transplanting of paddies and the Magh Bihu marks the end of the harvesting period. All the three Bihu festivals of Assam are related to harvesting. Being a agriculture based state, Assam, has always marked this Bihu as the symbol of joy.

Traditionally Bihu is celebrated with Bihu dance and Bihu Geets (songs) in the village fields and courtyards, with groups of youths going from house to house, singing Bihu songs, which are known as Husori. Husorti is just a form of singing in the Indian culture. The same practice slowly got transformed to holding community functions mainly in towns and cities where cultural functions are held; such functions are based on Bihu dance and Bihu geets (songs) which depict mainly Bihu dances and songs. Competitions are held and performing group from every corner of Assam join in and even move from one city to another to take part.

The Bihu dance is performed with traditional Bihu folk music. The folk songs associated with this dance are known as ‘Bihu Geet’; Bihu Geet is symbolic of communication of love and romance among the village youth and the village belles. Assam men play the music with various instruments. The Dhol is one instrument that is similar to a drum. The Pepa is a pipe instrument made from a buffalo horn. Other instruments are the some sorts of cymbal, the gagona, which is a piece of bamboo with a vibrating reed and lastly a toka— a bamboo clapper. The toka is the only instrument that is played by both men and women. The songs that accompany the dance have been handed down for many generations. The subject of the lyrics ranges from welcoming in the Assamese New Year to describing the daily life of a farmer. Most songs are focused on themes of love and carry erotic overtones.

This festival has very little religious significance and is celebrated as a harvest festival. The Bihu takes place on a Sankranti day, which is the time when the sun passes from one zodiac sign to another.

“Nearly 80 per cent of the people of Assam are dependent on agriculture and spontaneous celebration of festivities is associated with the beginning and end of the harvest season,” said Pradip Kumar Sarmah in his article called Bihu: Bihu, the Unifying Festival of Assam.  

There are three main forms of dance in the actual Bihu festivals, but there are also many other forms of the Bihu dance. Bohag Bihu, the most popular of the three forms, is associated with the vernal equinox. This is the most colorful of the Bihu festivals; it takes place around mid-April and can continue over several days. Kati Bihu the second most popular is associated with the autumn equinox and Magh Bihu is with the winter solstice. Bohag Bihu is celebrated at the time when the people are preparing the fields, Kati is at the sage when young seedlings...
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