Amidst protests, Magh Bihu fever grips Assam

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Datamation

Guwahati, January 12: People of Assam are all geared up to celebrate the much-awaited harvest festival ‘Magh Bihu’ amid high-octane protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Bill on granting ST status to six ethnic communities of Assam.

The ‘Magh Bihu’, which is also known as ‘Bhogali Bihu’, marks the end of harvesting season. It is celebrated in Assam with feasting lasting for a week.

The festival is marked by singing, dancing, feasts and bonfires. People erect makeshift huts, known as meji and bhelaghar, from bamboo, leaves and thatch. As per the ritual, people eat the food prepared for the feast in the bhelaghar and then burn the huts the next morning. The night before ‘Magh Bihu’, which falls on January 15, is called ‘Uruka’ meaning the night of feasts.

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Varieties of pithas (rice cakes), laru made out of rice powder, sesame, molasses (black syrup from sugarcane), puffed rice, flattened rice, and coconut are prepared by the women folk.

Feasts are arranged in the open paddy fields where irrespective of age, people from all walks of life, enjoy the festival, eat and make merry. People play folk instruments, sing Bihu songs and also play traditional fun games.

People offer prayers to the God of Fire and pick up pieces of half burnt firewood, throw it among the other fruit trees for next bountiful harvest.