Kati Bihu of Assam: Few Facts

By working as an academician in an organisation of the Government of India I have the opportunity to visit across India including many many rural areas and also many foreign countries (now I am retired on superannuation). Here​,​ I will present a few facts based on the Bihu​s​ of Assam.  Three Bihus are celebrated in Assam​ ​- Bhogali or Magh Bihu ( mid-January​-​ 13/14/15 , date varies as per Assamese calendar); Rongali or Bohag Bihu is ​celebrated  in April 14/15, Kongali or Kati Bihu is observed in  mid-October. This year 2021, the date of Kati Bihu is on 18 October. It is pertinent to mention that all three Bihus are connected to agriculture. Rongali Bihu is the celebration of the end of the Assamese  Year and the beginning of New year. Bhogali Bihu is a harvesting festival so a lot of foods are prepared by the Assamese ladies. On the other hand, Kati Bihu is also called Kongali (“Poor”) as the granaries are usually empty and there is not much to eat at this time of the year, so it is not a joyous celebration. ​It may be mentioned here that during Ronagli Bihu days beautiful dances known as Bihu dances are performed​ by the males and females irrespective of age​. The people wear new dresses and ladies wear the famous ‘Mekhla-Chadar’.   During Kati Bihu earthen lamps (in Assamese it is called Saaki) are lit in the courtyard particularly near the sacred Tulshi plant , paddy fields and bhoral ghars (place of granary​).  In the paddy fields, the farmers lit up a special kind of lamp, known as ‘Akash Banti’ or ‘Sky lamp’.

I wish to mention here people of Assam in general and Assamese in particular are sociable and hospitable. They will at least invite for lunch or dinner if one visits as a guest or for official work to the State​ and any Assamese person is assigned to receive the guest as liaison ​. If the Assamese family is from the upper ​region of Assam viz., Sibsagar, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Golaghat, Makum, Digboi etc., duck meat is usually offered along with other sumptuous foods including fish. In the lower region of Assam viz., Guwahati, Nalbari, Kamrup, Barpeta etc., along with other items pigeon meat ​is ​prepared with black-pepper ​and served plus fish.  If the guest is vegetarian, a lot of vegetarian dishes are prepared with local vegetables and milk. Another important item is ‘Khar’. It is an indigenous product normally prepared at home, an alkaline-based delicacy and used to prepare vegetable curry and ​d​als (pulse preparation). ​After food, ​ each guest is ​presented with a hand-made towel, locally known as ‘Gamocha’.  It may be mentioned that weaving is another important a​ctivity of the cultural life of Assamese people. Most of the Assamese ladies know weaving and in each rural household ​at least one ​loom can be found. They make ‘Sarees’, ‘Mekhla-chadar’, ‘Gamocha’ etc.  

Before I conclude, I wish to mention that Assamese people observe all the pan-Indian religious festivals, but their most important celebrations are Bhogali and Rongali Bihu which are celebrated irrespective of caste, creed and religion. And few other festivals inter alia are Ali-Ai-Ligang, Baikho, Rongker, Rajini Gabra Harni Gabra, Baishagu, in addition to Durga Puja.​ I suggest  please visit Assam  and other North-eastern States. Pristine beauty can be seen in the region. 

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