FESTIVAL

Assam is a land of fairs and festivals. Most of the festivals celebrated in Assam have their roots in the diverse faith and belief of her inhabitants, but a spirit of accommodation and togetherness characterizes the celebration of all festivals.

Rajini Gabra & Harni Gabra

The annual festival of the colourful Dimasa tribe. It is exclusively a socio-religious festival which is generally observed before starting a new cultivation. Rajini Gabra is celebrated during day time. The 'Kunang' or the village headman propitiates the family deity by closing the village gate on the worship date. On the same night in a function called 'Harni Gabra', the presiding deity is worshipped for the protection and welfare of the people.

It is very interesting to note that during the Rajini Gabra and Hami Gabra festival if any outsider enters the village inspite off seeing the closed gate, the entire function is considered to be spoilt. The intruders then have to bear the total cost for holding the festival anew.

Rongker and Chomangkan

Rongker and Chomangkan are the two most important festivals of the Karbis, an indeginous tribe of Karbi Anglong.

Rongker is basically a springtime festival of merriment and is performed at the beginning of the New year, i.e. April. To propitiate different gods and goddesses for the well being of the entire village, the elderly male folk organise Rongker so thatpeople can be free from diseases and natural calamities for the entire year. They pray for a good harvest too. The women are not allowed to enter the worship arena during this festival.

On the other hand, Chomangkan is the festival dedicated to the dead. It is primarily a death ceremony. There is no particular time for holding this funeral ceremony. It depends upon the convenience of the locality. This festival is a must for every Karbi. It is a nonstop four days and four nights celebration.

Ali-Ai-Ligang

Ali-Ai-Ligang, the spring festival of the Mishing Tribe is the most colourful festival held every year on the first Wednesday (Ligange lange) of the month of 'Ginmur Polo' (February-March). 'Ali' means root, seed; 'Ai' means fruit and 'Ligang' means sow. That is why 'ceremonial' sowing of paddy starts on this day. A dance is performed by the young boys and girls, characterized by brisk stepping, flinging and flapping of hands and swaying of hips reflecting youthful passion, reproductive urge and joie-de-vivre.

"Poro Aapong" or rice beer, Pork and dried fish is essential for the feast. The festival continues for five days and during this festival certain taboos with respect to the cutting of trees, fishing, ploughing, burning jungles etc. are strictly observed.

Baikho

There is another colourful tribe in Assam, known as Rabhas. Although the Rabha community does not have any national festival of their own, the different groups celebrate their own festivals. The 'Baikho' or the Springtime festival is only celebrated to propitiate the goddess of wealth 'Baikho'. But unfortunately the pomp and grandeur of Baikho are not to be seen nowadays in the villages.

 Dosa Thoi! Long Nai

This is a very important religious dance performed at the 'Bathou Puja' or worshipping of God-Shiva. In this dance the priestess called Deodini dances with a bowl of blood of a sacrificed fowl on her head. It is believed that while the Deodini performs this dance in a trance, Lord Bathou (Shiva) will snatch away the bowl and drink the blood.

 

The perfect fusion of heritage of her numerous races has made Assam the home of the most colorful festivals which are passionate, compelling and mesmerizing, reflecting the true spirit, tradition and lifestlye of the people of Assam.

Majuli Festival - 21st - 24th November

The Majuli Festival of Assam offers you a lot of scopes to make you a part of this festival. Special events are being organised during the festival days round the clock. Cultural programmes takes place with the participation of various traditional and classical cultural troupes of Assam and troupes from rest of the country, in addition to the rich cultural heritage of Majuli.

Exhibition are also organised with the presentation of various Assamese items, specially designed and prepared by expert artists displaying traditional glory of Majuli too. Assamese and tribal dishes of Majuli are also available and food festival is organised during this period.

With the glorious past of 500 years of Satriya living cultural tradition, the rich and colourful tribal cultural elements and the natural beauty with a unique collection of flora and fauna; Majuli has the charisma to offer the tourists unfolding itself as paradise on the earth. You can also come across extinct species of various migratory birds in Majuli.

Majuli in Assam has its environment still protected from pollution in all climatic conditions, making it an ideal destination for health tourism.

Brahmaputra Beach Festival

Coinciding with Magh Bihu, the Assamese harvest festival, this event offers you a scintillating outdoor experience. Held on the beautiful, white riverine beaches of the river Brahmaputra, it is a perfect blend of traditional contests like elephant race, kite flying and modern adventure sports like wind surfing, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, para-dropping, hot air ballooning, beach volleyball and beach cricket.

Dehing Patkai Festival - 16th - 19th January

This festival in eastern Assam derives its name from the lofty Patkai range and the playful Dehing river. It is a heady cocktail of ethnic fairs, golfing, tea heritage tours,adventures sports, wildlife excursion and down-memory-lane trips to World War II cemeteries and the Stilwell Road, once the passage to the golden land of Myanmar. It is organized in the month of January every year.

Tea Festival

Celebrated every year in Jorhat, this festival is all about tea, music and merriment. A world of festivity with traditionahospitality, jungle safaris, tea garden visits, golf, local cuisine, rafting in turbulent rivers, angling, shopping and cultural l extravaganza. A harmonious blend of business and pleasure. Come and meet the warm hearted people of Assam and savour Assam's beauty and cultural diversity.

 Elephant Festival - 30th January - 1st February

For conservation and protection of Asiatic elephant a festival is organized every year at Kaziranga National Park jointly by the Forest Department and Tourism Department, Govt. of Assam. The festival includes many activities by domestic elephants and various cultural programmes.

Bihu

Bihu is the most important festival of Assam. It is celebrated with joy and abundance by all Assamese people irrespective of caste, creed, religion, faith and belief. The Assamese observe not one but three Bihus. Bohag Bihu, which is celebrated in mid-April, the Magh Bihu, which is held in mid-January, and the Kati Bihu which is celebrated in mid-October. The three are connected with the spring, winter and autumn seasons respectively. Bihu comes thrice a year and marks the changes in the seasons.

The first of the "Bihus" falls on "Chait Sankranthi" (mid-April). It is called Bihag Bihu or Rangoli bihu. In fact bihu is a festival to celebrate fertility. Rangoli Bihu is the most festive and joyful of all the Bihus.The Rangoli Bihu is a Spring, New Year and agriculture festival, all rolled into one. The first day of Rangoli Bihu is known as Gori Bihu and is reserved for cattle rites. Household cattle get special attention and they are decorated with colorful garlands of flowers and given goodfood.

The next day is called "Manuh Bihu". Paying homage to elders is customary on that day.. The next day is "Gosain Bihu", which is reserved for religious services. The seventh day has the people customarilu preparing seven types of leafy vegetables called "SatSak ". Games and sports are also a necessary part of the Bihu celebrations.

The last of the Bihus is the "Kati Bihu" which is a one-day celebration. It falls around October- November, when the paddy crops are yet to mature and the granaries are almost empty. Hence it is called "Kangali" or Poor Bihu.Naturally there is no feasting on this day. Special Tulsi Pujas are held on this day.

Assam, the melting pot of numerous colourful tribes comes alive to the beating of the Dhol (drums) and the melody of the Pepa (flute). Young and old alike come out in their traditional attire of muga and pat (both unique varieties of Assamese silk) tosing the song of eternal youth. Invariably the Bihu songs are an eulogy of the exquisite beauty of one's love, thepersonification of Mother Nature.

It is one of those festivals which all the major tribes in the state celebrate, albeit with different names. While the Bodos celebrate Baisagu, the Rabhas celebrate Baikho. The Missings, Deuris and Morans on the other hand call the festival Bihu Utsav. Call it by whatever name, one thing is sure it's time for merriment, time to sing and dance. Time to visit Assam. To facilitate this, to introduce people from around the globe to this unique celebration of the joys of nature.

 Ambubachi Mela

Is the most important festival of Kamakhya temple of Guwahati and is held every year during monsoon (mid-June). It is a ritual of austerities celebrated with 'Tantric rites'. It is a common belief that the reigning diety, 'Kamakhya' , 'The Mother Shakti' goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this period.

During Ambubashi the doors of the temple remain closed for three days. It is believed that the earth becomes impure for three days. During this time no farming work is undertaken. Daily worship and other religious performances are suspended during this period. After three days, the temple doors are reopened after the Goddess is bathed and other rituals performed. It is believed that the mother earth regains her purity now. This is purely a ritual of Tantric cult.

Ambubachi mela is held at the Kamakhya temple, after being closed for the afore-mentioned three days. On the fourth day only the devotees are allowed to enter inside the temple for worship. Thousands of devotees from all over India visit this mela.

Me-Dum-Me-Phi

The most important Ahom festival which deserves mention is the Me-Dum-Me-Phi, i.e., the ancestor worship festival which is observed by the whole Ahom community. This is performed annually on the 31st of January at some common venue. This in a way helps to develop social contacts and community feelings among the Ahoms. Colourful processions with devotees in traditional finery are also taken out on the occasion.

Baishagu

Famous for its myriad colours and merriment, 'Baishagu' is generally celebrated by the Bodo Kacharis during mid April. It is the most cherished festival of the Bodo tribe. The Bodos also celebrate it as a springtime festival at the advent of the new year.

The first day begins with worship of the cow. The next day which synchronises with the first day of the month of 'Bohag' of the Assamese almanac, the actual merriment begins with the young people of each household reverentialy bowing down to their parents and elders. The supreme deity 'Bathou' or Lord Shiva is worshipped during the festival by offering chicken and rice beer. In the Baishagu dance there is no age or sex bar, all are welcome to join in. The traditional musical instruments that are used in this dance festival are 'Khum' (drum), 'Jotha' (Manjari), 'Khawbang' (Taal), 'Gogona' (Mouth-organ) and 'Siphung' (Flute) etc. It is also customary at the time of closure of the Baishagu festival to offer community prayers at a particular place called 'Garjasali'.

 Bohaggiyo Bishu

This is the most fascinating spring festival of the Deoris of Assam, one of the four divisions of the Chutiyas, who are believed to have been members of the great Boro race. The term 'Bishu' might have originated from the Chutiya word 'Bishu'. 'Bi' means extreme and 'Su' means 'rejoicing' like other Springtime tribal festivals.

Bohaggiyo Bishu is also observed during mid-April at a stretch for seven days withunrestricted joy and merrymaking. It is to be observed that the Deoris Bishu do not always fall on the Sankranti Day. The Bishu must be preceded by a 'Than puja' and evidently it must start on a Wednesday. There is much socio-religious significance and arrangements to be made before the puja. Once in every four years a white buffalo is sacrificed which is considered a substitute for the traditional human sacrifice. The Deodhani dance is the most important and significant part of the festival. Husori or carol song party is the main attraction.