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The harvesting season undoubtedly stands out as one of the most joyous periods for farmers, where the fruits of their labour over many months are finally reaped. In the state of Assam, the culmination of the harvesting season takes the form of a grand celebration known as Magh Bihu.
This festive occasion also serves as a cultural extravaganza, showcasing Assam’s unique traditions and customs, bringing communities together, and fostering a sense of unity and gratitude for the abundant harvest.
Wego details when will the auspicious celebration of Magh Bihu happen in 2024 and what to expect.
What is the Magh Bihu festival?
The Bihu festivals are deeply rooted in Assamese culture. There are three types of Bihu festivals: Bohag Bihu, Magh Bihu, and Kati Bihu. Each holds its significance and is celebrated with unique traditions. Bohag Bihu signifies the new year and seeding time, Kati Bihu marks the completion of sowing and transplanting of paddies, while Magh Bihu marks the end of the harvesting season.
Among all the Bihu festivals, Magh Bihu holds a special place as the celebration of hard-earned efforts. The celebrations include feasts, bonfires, and cultural games, making them vibrant and festive. Dedicated to the lord of fire, the festival is a prayer for another prosperous season.
Magh Bihu 2024 dates
Magh Bihu is celebrated on the last day of the Assamese month of Pooh, falling on 15 January 2024. It heralds the arrival of the spring season, a time when nature bursts forth in vibrant blossoms. The festival day is also observed as a regional holiday in Assam.
For this year, 15 and 16 January have been declared as public holidays for Magh Bihu and Tusu Puja.
Magh Bihu 2024 celebration
In earlier times, the Magh Bihu festival used to span a month, but it has evolved into a week-long celebration and, in the modern age, condensed to a single day. The festivities kick off on the eve of Magh Bihu, known as Uruka, followed by the main event on Magh Bihu itself.
On Uruka, the evening preceding Magh Bihu, while the rhythmic beats of Dhols set the festive vibe, people prepare for the grand day by engaging in communal cooking and enjoying a bonfire at night. Youth partake in an age-old tradition of playfully stealing vegetables from gardens.
Traditional practices involve constructing makeshift huts called Meji and Bhelaghar from bamboo, leaves, and thatch. In Bhelaghar, people feast on the food prepared for the occasion and then burn the huts the next morning.
Following Uruka is the grand day of Magh Bihu itself, commencing at dawn with a post-harvesting ceremony called “Meji.” During this ritual, bonfires are lit in the fields, and people pray to their ancestral gods for blessings. Individuals pick up pieces of half-burnt firewood to take home, throwing them at fruit trees to invoke positive results for their prayers.
The day transforms into a cultural extravaganza featuring music, cultural performances, and various traditional games such as cockfights, buffalo races, nightingale contests, and egg throwing.
To fulfil the festival’s purpose, the day concludes with the distribution of ashes from the Meji and Bhelaghar bonfires among the crops to enhance the fertility of fields for another year of bountiful harvests.