Assam is a land of fairs and festivals. The perfect fusion of heritages tradition, faiths and beliefs of numerous races, is visioned and felt during these celebrations. Free from all sorts of domination, these people feel proud for their culture and make Assam feel proud of them. Assamese Hindus celebrate Holi and Diwali irrespective of the section to which they belong. Assamese Hindus celebrate the Pujas and Vaishanava, who do not believe in idol worship perform Namakirtana – recitation of Lord Vishnu. The Muslims celebrate Idd and Muharam.
A brief about major festivals celebrated in Assam, is given below:
The national festival of Assam is `Bihu’, also called ‘Baishaga’ which is celebrated with by all Assamese people. It is famous for its myriad of colours and merriment celebrated in the month of Baishakh or mid April. It is the spring celebration at the advent of the new year.
Rajini Gabra and Harni Gabra:
It is an annual festival of the Dimasa tribe. It is an exclusively a socio religious festival celebrated before the starting of new cultivation. `Rijini Gabra’ is celebrated during the day time. In the same night the function called `Harni Gabra’.
It is the most fascinating spring festival of the Deoris. The Deoris are one of the four divisions of Chuti a tribe, who are believed to have been members of the great Boro race. This festival is celebrated during mid April at a stretch for seven days with unrestricted joy and merrymaking. The Deodhaui dance forms the most important and significant part of the festival. Husori or Carol song is also an another attraction.
Rongker and Chomangkan:
The Karbis – the mongoloid group who migrated to this land before several hundred years. Rongker and Chomangkan are the two most important festivals of the Karbis. Rongker is a springtime festival and performed at the beginning of New Year. Rongker is the festival, organized by the male folks to propitiate different gods and goddesses, so that the village is made free from diseases and natural calamities for the entire year. They prey for a good harvest too.
Chomangkan is primarily a death ceremony and depends on the convenience of the locality. This festival is a must for every Karbis, and it is celebrated for four days and nights continuously.
It is a spring festival of the Mishing tribe. It is the most colourful festival held every year on the first Wednesday (Lvigang Lange) of the month Ginmur Polo (Feb-March). The ceremonial souring of paddy starts on this day. This festival is characterized by dance with brisk stepping, flinging and flapping hand reflecting youthful passions. `Poro Aapong’ a rice beer and dried fish are essential for the feast. It is a five-day festival.
The Rabhas community is another colorful tribe in Assam. The Baikho is celebrated during the spring time in order to propitiate spring time the goddess of wealth ‘Baikho’.
This festival is held in the early part of the month December. Rengma nagas celebrate this festival as to mark the end of the agricultural year. This festival continues for eight days. First day, starts with the brew of rice beer. The second day, the graves of the ancestors are repaired. On the third day, women offer rice beer on the graves of the their forefathers. On the fourth day, young boys and girls sing and dance in memory of their ancestors. On the fifth day, collection of foodstuffs done for the last day celebration. Seventh day, is observed with the repairing of own houses and the final day, young men Rensi arrange feast for all.
This festival is held by the Rengma naga at the beginning of the month January (Thui). It is a three-day festival. Its main purpose is to get ride of all the evils of the preceding years. During these days, all persons have to keep themselves neat and clean. Only other the observance of this ceremony new jungles for jhum are cleared.
Khong Kepang Kennyu :
It is one of the most important ceremony connected to agriculture in which the first of the ripening paddy is called Kepang Kennyu. An old woman harvests the first new rice at dawn and offers food to the spirit of crops. She brings some rice to the village, which she eats after cooking. This ceremony is similar to the ‘Lakhimi ana’ ceremony.
Rangali Bihu :
It is the most important festival of the Sonowals. It is celebrated on 14th April and continuous for a fortnight. The main attraction is the dance of young boys and girls in separate groups with the beating of drums and pipes. The men remain busy in collecting ropes for cattle, brinjal gourd etc. The first day is ‘Garu Bihoo’ dedicated to the cattle. They are bathed well and fed with special cakes and cut vegetables. The young boys and girls wear new clothes and spend the time in Kani Juj (Egg Fight). The next day, is ‘Manuh Biho’ when Bihu Husor is formally inaugurated at the Namghar (prayer hall)
This festival is celebrated by each zeme village, according to the convenience of the villagers prior to the starting of Jhum cultivation some time in mid April, when mansoon is likely to set on the first day Tingkupeu. The village priest scarifies a buffalo to satisfy the crop God to have proper crop. After the feast, the Hengscuki and Leuseuki start dancing and singing in the village streets stopping in front of each household. They collect plantain leaves from the nearby forest and distribute to the households.
It is the harvesting festival of Zemi Nagas of the North Cacher hills, organized by the boys and girls, Morungs of the village. Like the Bihu festival, in this festival the youths get prepared much before the celebration. Holding grand feast with meat of haunted birds and animals and rice beer along with dancing and singing are the main features. The festival takes place continuous for four days. Another interesting feature is the competition among the boys and girls of the Morungs, is the recapitulation of the name of planets, creepers, orchids etc which is the most educative aspect of this festival.
Bash Puja :
One of the important religious ceremony performed by Hajongs, where bamboo is worshipped. It is held in the first month of Baisag. Three newly cut bamboos are used in the performance of this puja which continues for three days. The two main bamboos represents two gods like Madan & Gopal or Shiva and Parvati or Indra. Some people think that it is sex worshipping with the two bamboos representing Madan Kamdev and Rati.
Dosa Thoi Long Nai :
It is a very important religious dance, performed at the Bathon Puja or worshipping of lord the Shiva. In this dance the priestess called Deothani, dances with a bowl on her head in which the blood of a sacrificed fowl is kept. It is believed that while Deothani performs this dance, in a condition of trace lord Bathou (Shiva) will snatch away the bowel and drink the blood.