Bohag Bihu, also known as Rongali Bihu, is Assam’s biggest festival to welcome spring. This Bihu marks the beginning of the Assamese New Year.
The Bihu is marked with the blossoming of colourful flowers, the voice of the cuckoo and the festive spirit in the air.
The week-long Rongali Bihu is synonymous with colours, dancing, singing and feasting and much more. However due to the lockdown to contain the spread of highly contagious novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Assam will miss the usual feating and festivities of Ronagli Bihu this year.
The Assam government has appealed to the citizens to follow lockdown guidelines by staying indoors and directed Bihu committees to restrict celebrations by just hoisting a flag in the presence of five people.
Assam Police directed the Bihu committees not to extend the flag hoisting ceremony for more than 30 minutes and strictly adhere to the social distancing norms.
During Rangali Bihu there are 7 pinnacle phases: ‘Chot’, ‘Raati’, ‘Goru’, ‘Manuh’, ‘Kutum’, ‘Mela’ and ‘Chera’.
Women prepare pitha and laru along with other traditional delicacies. ‘Gamochas’ (traditional towels) weaved in traditional handlooms are gifted among the loved ones during the Bihu.
The festival week starts with Garu Bihu and is dedicated to cattle and livestock. The first day of the Assamese new year, which falls on April 14th, 2020, is marked as Manuh Bihu. On this day, the young ones touch the feet of elders to seek their blessings.
Men and women dress up in their traditional attire and dance in paddy fields, beneath trees to welcome the new year. The women adorn their buns with kapou flower (Rhynchostylis retusa).
Due to the coronavirus crisis in the country, the organisers of Bihu celebrations decided to cancel their on-stage programmes this year to avoid the crowd and practice social distancing.
Every year, both open-air and on stage Bihu dance and music programmes are organised to celebrate Rongali Bihu. In some places, the celebrations continue through the entire April.
It may be mentioned, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has directed all States and Union Territories (UTs) to ensure strict compliance of lockdown measures to fight novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and not allow any social/religious gathering/procession.
The MHA directed the States and UTs to take all required precautionary/preventive measures for maintenance of law and order, peace and public tranquillity.