Kati Bihu – Colorful Festivals in Assam
Wondering where to travel to this October? Assam is the place where you should be going as it is the time for the festival of Kati Bihu which is a harvest festival. It is celebrated on 18th day of October. It perfectly demonstrates the culture of Assam. In case you are looking forward to something beyond dance, songs and other common ways of celebrations, Kati Bihu festival will give you the experience you want.
Bihu is counted among the major festivals of Assam. There are 3 bihu festivals that are celebrated at various stages of paddy cultivation namely Bahag Bihu (in the month of April), Kati Bihu (in the month of October) and Magh Bihu (in January). Kati Bihu is celebrated quite differently from the rest of the two Bihus. This Bihu is also known as ‘Kongali Bihu’ which means bad financial times as the stocks of the farmers are about to be exhausted and the rice in fields is not ready to be harvested.
Kati Bihu is celebrated when the paddy is growing and the granaries are nearly empty. This is the time when farmers pray for good harvests. This Bihu festival, like the other Bihu festivals lasts for a number of days. However, Kati Bihu is a pretty quiet affair and is celebrated though rituals such as lighting of earthen lamps in the fields. One of the most important rituals of Kati Bihu is the worship of sacred Tusli (basil).
The lamps or the ‘Akash Batti’ (sky lamp) are lit and hung from bamboo pools in order to keep insects and pests away. These lights also have a spiritual significance. It is believed that these lamps show the light to the souls and guide them to heaven.
‘Saki’ (earthen Lamps are lit and kept on the thresholds of houses. Other rituals such reciting chants and spells so as to keep away the evil spirit are also performed. ‘Pitha’ which is a special rice item is prepared for the cattle in the evening. This is to show the farmer’s love for the cattle even when the financial conditions are not too good.
Where to go
For discovering the true spirit of Kati Bihu, you should visit villages rather than cities as the significance of Kati Bihu is more there. Other than the villages, you can also go to the Rangoli Utsav which is organized by Assam Tourism Department and is held at Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra in Guwahati. If you do not want to indulge in lavish and tiring celebrations and are willing to experience the culture of Assam in a calm and quiet manner, you must visit the place at the time of Kati Bihu (mid October). Take a trip to the paddy fields and be a part of the sober celebrations.
Kati or Kongli Bihu is one of the most colorful festivals in Assam. Houses are lighted by lamps and lights. It is one of the most auspicious day for the Assamese. One important aspect of this festival is that despite of any class, caste or creed, the whole community unties and celebrates the festival together. If you get a chance of celebrating Bihu with the local villagers, it will surely turn out to be a lifetime experience.
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(Guest Author: Nishita Banerjee)