Bohag Bihu, also known as Rongali Bihu, is Assam’s biggest festival and marks the onset of spring and the beginning of the Assamese new year. This Bihu is marked by feasting and festivities.
However, due to the lockdown to contain the spread of the highly contagious novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, most rituals will be restricted with the social distancing norms in place.
But we can still enjoy the colourful Rongali Bihu and also maintain social distancing. TIME8 and Amrit Cement have launched a campaign to keep the spirit of Rongali Bihu alive during these tough times.
Several government officials and artistes are supporting the campaign to encourage people to stay home and celebrate Bihu.
Padmapani Bora, currently posted as the Deputy Secretary in the Union Ministry of Textile, said “Let us celebrate Bihu in an alternative way. We can hoist a Gamosa at our home, courtyard or balcony.”
The Assam government has directed the Bohag Bihu committees to restrict their celebrations of the month-long festivities beginning April 13th, 2020 to just ceremonial hoisting of flags in presence of five people.
He added that since the COVID-19 outbreak has dampened the celebratory mood, people can still celebrate it in their homes by connecting with everyone on social media.
Rongali Bihu is marked by preparing pitha, laru, traditional delicacies and gifting gamosas to the loved ones.
The first day of the new year as per the Assamese calendar, which falls on April 14th, 2020, is marked as Manuh Bihu when younger people touch feet of elders in their families to seek their blessings. People also wear new clothes and indulge in singing, dancing and community feasting.
Due to the coronavirus crisis in the country, the organisers of Bihu celebrations have cancelled 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.
Photo credit: abhijna-emuseum.com