The Heart of Assamese Art (and culture) – Bihu!
Bihu is the main cultural festival of Assam and is celebrated thrice a year – as Rongali Bihu (Assamese New Year, mid-April), Maagh Bihu (harvest festival, mid-January) and Kaati Bihu (mid-October). If you want more information on the festival, you better look at Wiki or some other links giving you details on this festival. The main motive behind this post of mine is basically to share what my grandma remembers about the bihu of her time (the perfect bihu that I can dream of) and to share two nice bihu videos 🙂
The Rongali Bihu marks the commencement of new year in Assam and is a festival of Joy and merriment – people sing, dance, enjoy the food and the nature (It is spring time! And you should see the orchids in assam during this time) – every home, each person celebrate this colourful festival. We have specific kinds of songs and dance performed during Bihu season, named after the festival itself. Now a days, all the different stage shows happening in each corner of each small town in Assam- the competitions for the best female dancer, best group, best guy on dhol and many such awards – have literally brought Bihu dance to the stage. Fortunately though, at least in the villages the tradition of the young (sometimes even the old) generation forming a group (called Husori) and performing bihu in the frontyard of each house still continues.
Just to give you an idea of this Bihu performance –
As my grandma tells me (she loves to share the stories of her time and oh! how we love to hear them!), there was a time when Bihu dance used to be a performance of happiness and love – no competition, no judges – just pure joy! Each village had at least three (sometimes more) guys with perfect hands on dhol. And in the fields or the river bank or in someone’s frontyard, at any time, if one of them starts to play the dhol or someone starts singing a bihu song – it is impossible for others in the village to stay inside their houses. The other guys will join in, the girls get dressed in the traditional attire of muga mekhela-saador and comes out – and together in the fields, near those big big trees, in the beautiful weather of spring, they sing they dance and that is how bihu was celebrated then.
And the lyrics of the bihu songs – just pure awesome! As my grandma remembers, after the first slow stanza which was dedicated to the Gods, most of the bihu songs that follows were love songs – guys teasing the girls, the replies of the girls, the lovers expressing their love through the lines they sing, someone for the first time proposing the girl he loves – and all these with beautiful and poetic (mostly original) language in perfect rhymes. Many wedding proposals used to pop up during these bihu sessions, the girls used to make Gamusa (sign of respect and love in Assames Culture) for the guy she is secretly in love with, the guys would go the forest in search of the beautiful pink orchids to get it for the girl he loves and many a couples (the ones that which were not accepted in the society for religion/Caste barriers) would even run away to start their new life together in midst of all these celebrations.
No mikes needed, no stages required, no need to practice to perform, no need to remember the lined of the bihu songs – everything was just so natural, original and beautiful! 🙂
This whole picture of the natural Bihu helped me pick up my most favorite Bihu Dance video of all time. Though the dress that the guys and the girls are wearing in this video are not the proper Bihu dress (which is the dress being worn in the first video I shared here), but this is a more natural performance and I totally love the lyrics 🙂 Enjoy the dance –
I wish I was born in my Grandma’s time. Such pure romance, such simple lives, such lovely people and such beautiful stories 🙂 I love the feel of it.
Anyways – A Happy Rongali Bihu and A Happy New Year to all of you 🙂