GUWAHATI, April 14 (IANS): The people of Assam on Saturday started celebrating Rongali Bihu to mark the beginning of the Assamese New Year and the end of the harvesting season amidst traditional fervour and large-scale fanfare.
The first day of the week-long festival was celebrated as Goru Bihu (Cattle Bihu) across the state in which people took their cattle to a nearby fishery or pond to give them a ceremonial bath and beat them with 'dighalati pat' -- leaf of a plant having medicinal value -- to ward off the flies and insects from the animal's body. They also recite some hymns praying for the good health of the animal.
The second day of the festival, which falls on the first day of the new Assamese Calendar month of Bohag, which is on Sunday, is known as Manuh Bihu (Human Bihu). People take bath and wear new clothes on this day and sing and dance to enjoy.
Younger people visit elders in the family and seek their blessings. Elders give Bihuwan -- the traditional Assamese towel known as Gamocha -- and bless the younger ones for good health and prosperity.
Although the Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu is a week-long festival, the celebration continues for the whole of the month and beyond with people organising different cultural programmes and functions in different parts of the state.
Conveying his greetings, Assam Governor Prof. Jagdish Mukhi said: "Let this Bihu which marks the advent of Assamese New Year be a harbinger of a new dawn of warm and harmonious relationship and peace, prosperity and progress in the state."
The Governor expressed hope that the celebrations of Rongali Bihu reinforce love and goodwill among all sections of the people and strengthen the bond of unity and bonhomie among them.
"Let this Rongali Bihu and the Assamese New Year be a reason for the people of Assam to take a pledge for a 'Swachh Bharat' and 'Swachh Assam'," he added.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also extended his Bihu wishes to all sections of people.
"Assam is a land where people representing all caste, creed, and community live in absolute harmony. Since time immemorial people of all sections have been living in the state upholding the tenets of peace, prosperity and mutual co-existence," Sonowal said adding that Bihu is a festival which constitutes the lifeline of the people of Assam and the crux of the composite culture of Assam.
The celebration of Rogali Bihu and Assamese New Year besides reinforcing the age-old bond of unity and camaraderie among the people of Assam usher in a new dawn of peace and prosperity, he added.