Assam is a land of fairs & festivals. Most of the festivals celebrated in Assam have their roots in the diverse faith and belief of their inhabitants. They reflect the true spirit, tradition and life style of the people of Assam. The culture of Assam is a rich tapestry woven with multicolour yarns of distinct heritage of all the races that inhabit there. The perfect fusion of heritage of her tribes and sub-tribes have made Assam the home of the most colourful festivals at once passionate, compelling and mesmerizing . The major festivals celebrated in Assam are Bihu, Baishagu, Ali-Ai-Ligang, Baikho, Rongker, Rajni Gabra, Harni gabra, Bohaggiyo Bishu, Ambubashi Mela and jonbill Mela and so on. However the people of Assam also celebrate Durga Puja, Diwali, Idd, Muharram, Me-Dam Me-Phi, the birth and death anniversaries of the Vaishnava saints Shrimanta shankardev and Shrimanta Madhbdev.
Bihu is National festival of Assam. Irrespective of caste, creed and religion the people of Assam celebrated Bihu with much pomp and gaiety. Rongali Bihu, the spring festival is celebrated during mid April. It is a festival of colour, creativity and joy. It marks the beginning of an agriculture season. The mood of spring is celebrated with Bihu Dance- one of the unique art froms of India with the accompaniment of lusty wild beats of drum along with indigenous instruments like buffalo-horn pipe. Young boys and girls clad in golden Muga silk sing and dance to the tune of seductive bihu songs woven around the themes of love and passion. It is an experience out of this world.
Famous for its myrid of colour and merriment. Baishagu is generally celebrated by Boro Kancharis during mid April. It is the most cherished festivals of the Boro tribe. The Boros also celebrate it as spring time festival at the advent of New year. The Supreme diety ‘Bathou’ or Lord Shiya is worshipped during this days by offering him chicken and rice beer. In the Baishagu dance there is no bar of age and sex to join in their respective groups. During the
days of the festival young boys and girls dance together. It is also customary that the time of closure of the festivals one has to offer community at a particular place called ‘Galiasali’.
The spring season descends to rejuvenate life again, Ali-Ai-LIgang, the festival of the Mishing tribe, is the most colourful festival held every year on the first Wednesday of the month of ‘Ginmur Polo’ (February-March). The ceremonial sowing of paddy starts on this day. Dance performed by young boys and girls during festivals reflects the youthful passions and reproductive urge. Fish, Pork and Dry fish form the menu for the feast arranged for the festival.
Rongker is the most important festival of the Karbis, an indigenous tribe who live in Karbi Anglong (Assam). It is basically a festival of merriment and is performed at the beginning of the New Year, i.e. April. To propitiate different Gods and goddesses for the wellbeing of the entire village. The elderly male folk organize Rongker so that people could 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 this festival.
There is another colourful tribe in Assam, known as the Rabhas. Although the Rabha community does not have any national festival of their own, the different groups celebrate their own festivals. The Baikho is celebrated during the Spring season in order propitiate the goddess of wealth ‘Baikho’.
RAJINI GABRA & HARNI GABRA
The annual festival of the colorful Dimasa tribe. It is exclusively a socio-religious festival which is generally observed before the starting of new cultivation. Rajini Gabra is celebrated during day time. The ‘ Kunag’ or the village headman propitiate family deity, by closing the village gate on the worship day. In the same night the function called ‘Harni Gabra’ , the presiding deity, is worshipped for the protection and welfare of people. It is very interesting to note that during the Rajni Gabra and Harni Gabra festivals if any outsider enters the village inspite of seeing the sign of closed gate the entire function is considered to be spoil. Then the intruder has to bear the total cost for holding the festival a new.
The most fascinating spring festival of the Deoris. The Deoris are one of the four divisions of the Chutia tribe, who are believed to have been members of the great Boro race. The term ‘BIshu’ might have originated from the Chutia word ‘Bishu’ which means extreme merriment. It is like other Spring festivals observed during mid April at a stretch for seven days with unrestricted joy and merrymaking.
The Bishu is preceded by a ‘Than puja’. There is much socio religious significance and arrangements to be made before the puja. Once in every years a white buffalo is sacrificed which is considered as a substitute for the traditional human sacrifice.
This spectacular fair (mela) is held every year during Winter at Jonbeel of Jagiroad, a lesser known township near Guwahati which is only 32 kms from the city. Jagiroad is on the National Highway 37. Few days before the ‘mela’ communities like Tiwa, Karbi, Khasi, Janitia of North East come down hills with their various products for this mela. On occasion of the ‘mela’ big bazaar held here where these tribes exchange their products with local people in barter system which is very rare in a civilized modern society. Before the ‘mela’ they perform fire worship or Agni puja for the well being of mankind. It is to be noted that during this mela the, Govaraja , or the king of the Tiwa tribe along with his courtiers visit the mela and collect taxes from his subject. The significant point of this mela is its theme of harmony and brotherhood amongst various tribes and communities. During the ‘mela’ these
communities performs their traditional dance and music to celebrate the mela in a befitting manner.
Ambubashi – the most important festival of Kamakhya temple is celebrated during mid-june every year. It is a ritual of austerities celebrated with ‘ Tantric ‘ rites. It is a common belief that reigning deity, ‘Kamakhya’ , ‘ The Mother Sakti’ goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this period. During Ambubashi the doors of the temple remain closed for 4 days. Daily worship and other religious performance are suspended during this period. All agriculture works are also forbidden. The temple doors are opened on the fifth day after the Goddess is bathed and other ritual are performed. Thousands of devotees visit this temple during Ambubashi.
It’s the time when this tea capital of Assam adds music and fun to the cup that cheers. Experience an exotic tea tour from plucking fresh leaves to staying in sprawling bungalows, enjoy jungle safaris, golf, horse racing, ethnic food festival and cultural extravaganza.
The festival in eastern Assam derives its name from the lofty Patkai range and the playful Dehing river. It is a heady cocktail of ethnic fares, golfing, tea heritage tours, adventure sports, wildlife excursions and down-memory lane trips to World War II cemeteries and the stilwell Road, once the passage to the golden land of Myanmar.
The festival on the world’s largest river island three showcase the arts, craft and lifestyle shaped by the unique Vaishnav Satras (monasteries) and various ethnic groups like the Mishings, Deories and Kacharies. Apart from an aura of spiritualism, it focuses on exquisite wood and bamboo craft, basketry, pottery and silver filigree work by local artisans.