Guwahati, Jan 12: The sight and sound in this part of the country mark the emergence of Magh or Bhogali Bihu. Farmers have wrapped up their agricultural activities in the field and stocked up their granaries. Now it's the time of the year when people express their gratitude to the God, celebrate and feast together.
Paddy fields and yards alike are bustling as people are busy finishing off the 'Bhela Ghar' and 'Meji'. Both the structures hold a prominent place in the Assamese culture.
On the day of Uruka or Bihu eve, all people come together to prepare for the community feast. Alongside, the males construct a temporary temple-like structure- Meji or the bonfire and a makeshift hut-like structure called Bhelaghar. This Meji and Bhela Ghar are profoundly related to the folk culture of Assamese society.
From the beginning of the Pooh month in the Assamese calendar, people started preparing the Bhela Ghar by using bamboo sticks, haystacks, dry leaves of banana and thatch. Similarly, Meji is also erected using hay, thatch and bamboo.
The young folks used to stay the whole Uruka night at Bhela Ghar and serve as night watchers of the Meji and enjoy the feast known as bhoj. In the wee hours of the next day, on the first day of the month of Magh, after taking a bath in the nearest water body the Meji is set on fire. Once the fire grows higher people gather around to offer prayers.
The Bhela Ghars are designed on the basis of iconic Ahom monuments, however, as things change with time, people are adopting innovative ways to build the structures. While some are prepared for the purpose of attraction, it also depicts the artistic skills of the rural artisans.
From Covid-19 vaccine themed Bhela Ghar to Burj Khalifa, here are some of the attractive Bhela Ghars being prepared by locals ahead of Magh Bihu in Assam this year:
1. In Bongaigaon an eagle shaped Bhela Ghar has been erected to mark the end of the harvest festival. While the men folks are busy with the finishing touches, the women gripped in the festive spirit can be seen dancing Bihu.
2. Another masterpiece that resembles the tallest skyscraper in the world, Burj Khalifa is prepared at Bongaigaon. Cylindrical structures are put together in a descending manner depicting a mini version of the skyscraper.
3. Villagers in Dhakaukhana are busy preparing Bhela Ghar and Meji.
4. Majuli dwellers showcase their artistic skills with this unique Bhela Ghar, which resembles a temple.
5. Interestingly, villagers in Raha came up with the idea of creating awareness by constructing a vaccine-themed Bhela Ghar.
6. Meanwhile, the urban populace in Guwahati sticked to the traditional Meji, as seen in the picture a man is busy preparing the base of the Meji with bamboo.