Assam, a pride of the north eastern India, is a land of various ethnic tribes apart from the inhabitation of native Assamese masses following major Indian religions that include Hinduism, Islamic, Christianity and Sikhism. Existence of diversities in belief, sect and community has turned Assam into a land of extensive range of festivals of different tribes throughout the year. This indicates that people of Assam remain busy in merry-making all the year round. The perfect blend of rich glory of the ancient heritage and spirituality of the tribes and sub tribes has made the state the hub of events and festivals, which become reliable avenues to get united and they their colours and traditions. All in all, events and festivals of Assam truly epitomize secularism and togetherness under one roof.
Religious Events And Festivals of Assam
The people of Assam celebrate Bihu thrice in a year with full of fun, amusement and pleasure. Each Bihu has its individual significance and all of them are are observed in different times of the year to denote a cultivator’s life annually. For instance, Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu is celebrated in April, Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu in January and Kati Bihu or Kongali Bihu is celebrated either in the month of October or November.
Rajini Gabra and Harni Gabra
Dimasa tribe observes this festival with great pomp and show. Like Bihu, Rajini Gabra and Harni Gabra is also related to cultivation and it is celebrated prior to starting the seasons of harvesting. It is interesting to note that the festive celebration of the Rajini Gabra is observed during the day and Harni Gabra is observed in the night for the welfare of common masses.
Baishagu is a major festival of Bodo Kachadis in Assam celebrated in the midst of April. It is usually celebrated to mark the start of the New Year. During the celebration, the Bodo tribe worships Lord Shiva or ‘Bathou’ by offering chicken and rice beer to Him as a mark of showing devotion and respect.
Rongker and Chomangkan
Karbis, inhabitants of Karbi Analong in Assam are blessed with two popular festivals, namely Rongker and Chomangkan to celebrate in two different times of the year. Rongker falls in the month of April and it is usually referred to as a springtime festival during which both male and female deities are worshiped for popular welfare. On the other hand, Chomangkan is a festival dedicated to those who are no more and are remembered during the celebration. This festival lasts for full four days and demands large scale involvement of the tribe.
Bohaggiyo Bishu Festival
Deoris in Assam celebrate Bohaggiyo Bishu in the mid of April where they dance and sing in unison. This is a springtime festive and Deoris are believed to enjoy it to the fullest.
It is held on the bank of the River Luit and reflects a perfect fusion of Nature and culture under one roof. During Majuli, people of diverse ethnic groups are assembled together to showcase glories of their culture and heritage through participation in cultural events and exhibition of indigenous arts and crafts.
Dehing Patkai Festival
This is the popular festival held in the eastern parts of the state in the month of January every year. During Dehing Patkai festival, the people get opportunity to explore and enjoy ethnic fairs, tea heritage tours, golfing, wildlife excursion, adventurous sports and down memory lane trips to World War II cemeteries and the Stilwell Road.
Ali-Ai-Ligang is a celebration of the Mishing tribe in Assam, which is held annually on the first Wednesday of the month ‘Ginmur Polo’ or the months of February/March. The festival marks the start of harvesting season and young boys and girls perform indigenous dance as an attempt to symbolize youthful passion and reproductive urge. The festival lasts for five days and is featured with a feast containing rice, beer, pork and dried fish.
Baikho is a festival of Rabha community in Assam and it is purely dedicated to the powerful Goddess of Wealth ‘Baikho’. The festival is celebrated with pomp and grandeur so as to show devotion towards the Goddess.
Dosa Thoi! Long Nai
This is another popular festival held in the state of Assam in order to worship Lord Shiva. During the festivals, participants are engaged in religious dance by carrying bowels on their heads. The bowel contains blood of a sacrificed animal and it is believed that lord Shiva will drink the blood when a priest will dance by carrying it on the head.
The Brahmaputra Beach Festival of Assam is organised by the Assam Boat Racing & Rowing Association, Guwahati to encourage tourists to visit Assam. The festival is celebrated every year on the sandy beach of the mighty river Brahmaputra in association with Tourism Department, Govt. of Assam. The Brahmaputra Beach Festival of Assam presents various colourful cultural activities and adventure sports every year. There are fairs at the venue. The stalls at the venue displays and sell products bearing the signs of traditional craftsmanship. You can try your hand in various adventure sport activities, organised on the beaches of the Brahmaputra.
The Elephant Festival
The north eastern state of Assam in India organises one of India’s largest elephant festivals for the conservation and protection of Asiatic elephant. The Elepahant Festival of Assam draws a huge number of crowd in the north eastern state of Assam during this period. The gathering is aimed at increasing eco-tourism and raising awareness of the elephant’s struggle for limited resources with man. The objective in holding the festival is to highlight and find ways to resolve the increasing man-elephant conflict. The Elephant Festival of Assam is organised every year at KazirangaNational Park in Assam, jointly by the Forest Department and Tourism Department, Govt. of Assam. There are various activities by domestic elephants and various cultural programmes performed by the locales to make the event more & more entertaining. The Elephant Festival is a unique event held annually in Assam. The Elephants are groomed to perfection, row upon row of elephants catwalk before an enthralled audience. The elephants move gracefully in procession, run races, play games of various kind. It is a festival time for the elephants.
The Tea Festival
The Assam Tea festival organised by Assam Tourism take place in the month of November every year. It is a unique experience being at the festival. The Tea Festival of Assam offers holidays combining visits to Tea Gardens, Golf and River Cruises. While you are on a visit to Assam on the occasion of the Tea Festival, “Guwahati Tea Auction Center” (GTAC) in Guwahati, the largest in India is a worth a visit. This unique festival is celebrated every year in Jorhat. The festival is all about tea, music and merriment. You are served with various flavours of tea just under the same roof. Assam is the largest producer of Tea. The Tea Festival is a harmonious blend of business and pleasure. You have the opportunity to meet the warm hearted people of Assam and relish Assam’s beauty and cultural diversity. Assam is there to welcome you to the world of entertainment with traditional hospitality, jungle safaris, tea garden visits, golf, local cuisine, shopping, angling, rafting in turbulent rivers and cultural extravaganza.
It is a famous mela celebrated in the Kamakhya Temple in the state capital to commemorate the menstruation course of goddess Kamakhya. It takes place during monsoon season and lasts four four days. During Ambubachi Mela, the Kamakhya Temple remains closed for three days and in the fourth day, the temple reopens to embrace Sanyasins and Pandas gathered from around the country.
Deodhani dance is a ritual dance performed to show respect to the serpent goddess Manasa. According to Indian mythological, the wife of Lakhindar (a snake-bitten victim in death-bed), Behula danced before the goddess Manasa as a part of begging her husband’s life back. While dancing the dancers leave their hair open and they dance to the tune of Jaidhol (a cylindrical percussion instrument) and Khutitaal (palm sized Cymbal) and Chiphung (flute). Dancers’ rotating their head in rapid circular motion with open stresses is a must-see visual in this dance form.
Me-dam-me-phi is observed by the Ahom people on 31 January annually to pay homage to their ancestors. It is the testimony of remembering the departed souls by worshiping them. Tai-Shan clan celebrates Me-dam-me-phi and people worship three gods and they are Me Dam Me Phi, Dam Changphi and Grihadam. People of Assam consider Me-dam-me-phi as a festival rather than worship.
Dol Yatra is a festival celebrated in grand manner in all the districts of Assam. It is a festival of colours, just like Holi, but it is celebrated in different manner with the association of singing and dancing.
Jonbeel Mela is a community fair taken place at the historic location of Dayang Belguri at Jonbeel in the weekend of Magh Bihu. Its a three-day fair held with a purpose to maintain solidarity and fraternity among the tribes and communities scattered in the Northeast India. The Jonbeel Mela is accompanied by dance and music to give pleasure and fun to people of Assam.