BIHU Celebration by Assamese Community

Bihu 1

Photos: Utpal Kaushik Sarma

By Runmee Barbara

HOUSTON: On April 9, at Woodlands, the Assamese community got together to herald and celebrate the advent of spring. The Houston Assamese Community celebrated its 36th Bihu celebration this year. BIHU is the national festival of Assam, a far North-Eastern state of India. Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu is the festival that refers to the onset of the Assamese New Year (April 14, of every year).  There are two other bihus celebrated throughout the year. Bihu (all three) is associated with farming as the traditional Assamese society is predominantly agricultural. Each Bihu coincides with a distinctive phase in the farming calendar.

Traditionally Bihu has been celebrated with Bihu dance and Bihu Geets with groups of youths going from house to house, singing Bihu songs which is known as Husori. This dance is performed by both young men and women and is characterized by brisk dance steps with rapid hands and hip movement. The songs are composed in couplets that rhyme and depicts a different emotion. The different musical instruments used are dhul (drum), Pepa (instrument made of buffalo horn), Gogona, Baanhi (flute), Taal (cymbals) and Toka Xutuli (instrument made out of bamboo).


During Bihu, Assamese women gets busy weaving Gamosas (traditional hand towel) and Mekhela Chadors (the traditional Assamese 3 pieces costume). People make different types of traditional snacks called ‘Pithas’  such as Til, Ghila, Sunga, Monda, Tekeli Pithas and Laroos (different snacks made out of rice flour, coconut, molases or sugar). It is a festival of merriment and feasting. Everyone dresses up in traditional attires and exchange sweets and greetings with each other.

Keeping the customs of our homeland alive, Assamese community of Houston began celebrations outdoors around 9.30am in a lakeside park.  It was a beautiful weather perfect for all the fun activities. There were many outdoor games for both children & adults, easter egg hunt for the tiny tots and other competitions.  The morning session ended with awards distributed for community service.

The evening cultural program started from 6 pm onwards at The congregation Beth Shalom of the Woodlands. The entrance and the stage was very well decorated by traditional Assamese symbolic items and crafts like the Japi (bamboo hat with colourful designs), Gamosa , Xorai, Bota (traditional utilities and symbolic elements made from Bell Metal and brass) and the Mekhela Chadors made of Muga silk  (natural golden silk indigenous to Assam).

The cultural evening started with Husori. Members from the community showcased their talent by playing musical instruments like guitar, flute, piano and violin. Other performances included a Ballet dance, kathak dance, Mizoram bamboo dance, semi classical dance, chorus, skit , solo songs and the very famous Bihu dance by a bunch of pretty assamese ladies which kept the bihu spirit alive . Families from Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and students from around Texas also came over to celebrate.

The program ended with Mukoli Bihu where everyone danced their heart out. It was a perfect evening of happiness and laughter. The Assamese New Year has truly begun.