Bihu is Assam's one of the most important festivals. Cutting across the bars of class and caste, it celebrated by all and sundry. There are three such festivals in Assam: in the months of 'Bohaag' (mid April), 'Maagh' (mid January), and 'Kaati' (mid October).
The "Bohaag Bihu" (also called as "Rangali Bihu" or the Festival of Merriment) marks the beginning of the New Year - the seeding time. The "Kaati Bihu" ( also called as "Kongaali Bihu" or the Festival of the Poor) marks the completion of sowing & transplanting of paddies. The "Maagh Bihu" (also called as "Bhogali Bihu" or the Festival of Food) marks the end of the harvesting period. Of all the three the Bohaag Bihu is the period of greatest enjoyment, marking the arrival of spring season.
This form of dance is the most popular folk dance in Assam and is also a part of the life known as Assamese life. The folk dance cuts through all the religious, caste and class barriers of the different kinds of people living in Assam.
Bihu Dance is performed during the festival and the festival is celebrated thrice annually with their respective common name. Rongali , the biggest festival of Assam, is celebrated in the mid of April. Bhogali is celebrated during mid of January and Kangali is done in the mid of October.
When the festival arrives, the young men and girls who are performers gather during day time in the open. These performers dance together but are not paired together and form in lines when they dance. The music played at this dance are drums and pipes and the performers sing of love during the act. The pattern which the performers follow during the dance is the circle or the parallel rows. The dancers sway their hips, take brisk steps and fling and flip their hands when the dance progresses. The traditional dress worn consist of Dhoti, Gamocha, Chadar and Mekhala (Indian clothes).
The Rangali Bihu is a dance festivel. The highlight of this dance is a group of young boys and girls, dancing in separate groups with drums beats & pipes. On its eve, the womenfolk clean the clothes and prepare special Bihu delicacies like 'Chira' & 'Pitha'. The menfolk collect necessary items like 'Tara Pogha' (ropes for the cattle) and vegetables like raw turmeric, brinjal, gourd etc.
Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu (derived from the word 'Bhoga' meaning eating or enjoyment) is celebrated when the harvesting is over. It is a harvest festival. On the eve of Bihu day, called "Uruka", women prepare rice cakes and other refreshments. The most significant part of this day is the building of 'Meji' and feasting at night. The whole night is spent in feasting, merry - making dancing and singing.
Kati Bihu or Kangali Bihu (Poor Bihu) is celebrated at the time when paddy seedlings begin to grow. In the evenings, offerings are made to the 'Tulsi' plant. Little earthen lamps ('Diyas') are lighted at its feet and puja's are offered to God for improved yield of crops.
The significance of this Bihu is more in the villages, where farmers go to their respective fields and light "Akash-Banti" or 'sky-lamp' hanging from a tall bamboo, to ward off pests and other insects.