History believes that Bihu is originated in the pre-Aryan days around the 3500 century BC. Assam’s economy mainly depends on agriculture. Hence all their daily activities and celebrations are based on agriculture only. The word Bihu is derived from ‘dimasa kacharis’ language, which is the agricultural community of Assam. Previously it was known as Bishu which means ‘to ask for prosperity’. Bishu later became Bihu. In olden days Bihu is celebrated for one month, which has come down to one week now.
Bihu is the National Festival of Assam. Assamese celebrate three types of Bihu round the year, namely Rongaali Bihu also known as ‘Bohaag Bihu’, Kati Bihu also known as Kongaali Bihu and Magh Bihu also known as Bhogaali Bihu’.
Rongaali Bihu is the most important Bihu among three. It is celebrated in the month of Bohaag which is the first month of Assamese calendar. Rongaali Bihu is celebrated in various regions like Bengal, Orissa, Nepal, Kerala, Manipur, Tamil Nadu and Punjab with different names. The fields are kept ready for paddy cultivation and women prepare traditional food called Larus. On the first day, cattle are worshipped which is known as goru or cow bihu. On the second day, people clean themselves and wear new dress which is known as manuh or human bihu. On the third day Gods' idols are worshipped and are prayed for a smooth and healthy new year ahead.
Kongali Bihu is celebrated in mid-October when the field paddy is fully grown. On Kongali Bihu, earthen lamps are lit at the foot of the household tulsi plant, garden, granary and paddy fields. In evening, cattle are fed with pitha which is specially made rice item. On this day, lamps are lit at the top of the bamboo pole to show the dead souls the heaven’s way.
Bhogali Bihu comes from the word Bhog which means eating and enjoyment. It marks the end of harvest festival. Cottage known as Bhelaghar is built with the hay of the harvest fields preferably near the river and make bonfire. During night there is a community feast.