The Bihu festival is of major significance to the Assamese community. Songs were written in ode to the spring season, dances were rehearsed at the village grounds, and love blossomed all over. In fact, the word goes that lovers waited to elope during this festive time. Imagine the license to do that; pretty cool, you bet! Besides, the occasion of Bihu is also about great food. The traditional Assamese thali, along with being healthy is also rather delicious.
But for all that, the culture of celebrating Bihu is becoming decadent, thanks to all the electronic gadgets, superspeed and no-time-for-nonsense generation. Of course the blame lies on us, since we haven’t been able to incorporate our cultural harmony as attractively as some other communities. This is an attempt to trace the journey of Bihu down the ages (not the ice age though!) to the future.
Let’s turn the clock a few years back and think…………. what was it about Bihu that made us so excited. There are three kinds of Bihu: Bohaag/Rongali Bihu, Maagh/Bhogali Bihu, Kaati/Kongali Bihu which are celebrated during a particular phase of the farming calendar. Of the three Bihus’ the Bhogali Bihu ushers the period of most enjoyment with singing Bihugeets, dancing and eating homemade pithas.
The announcement of a week’s holiday. Preparation for holiday visits to relatives, friends. The aroma of pithas and laroos being made and sneaking a taste of doi. The beautiful fragrance of kopou in the air, also a carload of dresses and shoes for the family, and all the relatives. The array of gamochas for the aashirwad ceremony on the day of bihu, and the smearing of Maah Xalodhi( the holy paste of gram and turmeric) before bath. The family get-together over lunch and dinner with homemade delicacies and the aashirwad ceremony before the family elders.
What Bihu Means Now
In today’s time, holidays are for fun and there is also the relief of having to attend only compulsory lessons in tuitions. Plans are made for vacationing in Goa, Singapore or California. A family meet, with some people absent for lack of leave. Shopping done long before the Bihu rush mobbed the malls or the city roads, and nothing more after this day gets over. Fun over, assignments begin.
Bihu of the Future?
No going to schools, only logging into it, and there is no holiday for a regional festival. Home is a four-walled compartment, with a machine to cultivate ideas. The last time you saw the whole family was in a hard copy of some camera shots. The items of shopping had been selected and the cash sent and the gadgets will reach through courier. And no, you don’t buy clothes unless needed because you hardly see people anymore. And machines don’t emote anyway! The Wikipedia says, it was an ancient practice of our ancestors. Mekhela sador a costume that resembles the roman toga was worn during the occasion, with singing and dancing accompanied.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the picture of tomorrow. It might not bother many of us, because except a passing thought there is not much we can do about it. All that will remain of us will be in manuscripts and yellowed pages of archaeology. Don’t get scared. It’s just that dramatizing the situation helps creating an effect sometimes!