Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu is a celebration of bountiful nature and abundance. It is also an occasion for the people of Assam to enjoy (bhog kora) and share in the gifts of nature as a community, and to strengthen a sense of identity and belonging.
Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu is celebrated to mark the end of the harvesting season. The people of Assam celebrate this festival by lighting Meji (bonfire) and offering Pithas (rice cakes) and Ladoos to loved ones. The celebrations also include pot breaking and buffalo fights.
The origin of Bihu is difficult to establish, but it’s primarily linked to the cycle of paddy cultivation. Hence it has evolved along with the development of rice cultivation in Assam.
A number of present-day Bihu rituals such as ancestor-worship, and dances and songs evoking fertility, are believed to be the cultural remnants of the beliefs and practices of certain indigenous tribes of the region like the Khasis.
The most significant contribution to the cultivation of paddy in the region was made by the Ahoms who came to Assam in the 13th century CE.
The Ahoms revolutionised the cultivation of paddy in the Brahmaputra valley by introducing Sali-kheti or wet rice cultivation (in place of the earlier Ahu technique which did not require standing water on the field).
The three forms of Bihu today revolve around the cycle of Sali cultivation. The Ahoms also institutionalised and popularized the celebration of Bihu. During Magh Bihu, various games and contests were held on the royal grounds of Rang Ghar.