Destination Tinsukia for Nature Lovers

Tinsukia is a district in Upper Assam which is a major commercial hub and trading center. Historically this part of the region was ruled by the powerful Chutia kingdom during the medieval period after which the Ahoms took over. Sadiya, a town situated at a distance of 66 kms from Tinsukia town has many ruins which indicate the existence of a powerful kingdom. The ruins of Bhismaknagar, Rukmininagar, Tamreshwari temple, Shiva temple, Pratima garh, Bura- Buri temple were all built during the Chutiya period.

Feral horses at Dibru-Saikhowa National Park Source: https://instagram.com/donniezsafari?igshid=18u6jmzvw5oxh

Tinsukia is home to many tea gardens and factories which make it a popular tourist destination. Tea tourism has great potentially in this region and is gradually making a breakthrough. However, the Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park are the main attractions here and therefore a perfect destination for nature and wildlife lovers. While the former is an Elephant Reserve, Dibru-Saikhowa is an island park which is home to some very rare species of animals.

Tinsukia shares its borders with Arunachal Pradesh and has easy access to some tourist places there like Namsai Golden Pagoda, Miao, Parashuram Kund, etc. This is another reason why tourists love to visit Tinsukia. Some local tourist attractions of Tinsukia are:

River Dolphins at Dibru-Saikhowa National Park
Source: https://instagram.com/dream.chaser.riku?igshid=1hbxku3wbwe75
  • Dibru-Saikhowa National Park: Dibru-Saikhowa National Park located in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts of Assam, and situated on the south bank of river Brahmaputra was declared a National Park in 1999. Boat rides and nature trails are the most important activities here. River dolphins and Feral horses are the highlight of this Park.
  • Tilinga Mandir: Tilinga Mandir is a Hindu temple situated at Bordubi, about 7 kms from Tinsukia town. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple doesn’t have any idol or deity, but a sacred banyan tree. It is widely believed that if you make a wish under this tree then it is bound to be granted. Later as thanksgiving a bell is hanged on the bars. To this day thousands of bells can be found hanging in these bars.
  • Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary: Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary is the largest stretch of lowland rainforest located in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts of Assam. This is totally a virgin rainforest rich in flora and fauna. The Sanctuary was also declared as Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve under Project Elephant.
  • Dhola-Sadiya Bridge: Also named as Dr.Bhupen Hazarika Setu, this bridge is the longest in India. Constructed over the Lohit river, a tributary of river Brahmaputra, the bride connects Sadiya town with Dhola village, both under Tinsukia district. The bridge significantly reduces the travel time between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Na-Pukhuri: Na-Pukhuri is a group of nine ponds centrally located in Tinsukia town. This was a historic monument built by Swargadeo Sarbananda Singha.

Read: Dibru-Saikhowa National Park

Dhola-Sadiya Bridge
Source: Swarnav Borgohain

Margherita

Situated at a distance of around 49.2 kms from Tinsukia town, Margherita is the coal queen of Assam and a major industrial area. Surrounded by the Burhi-Dehing River and the Patkai mountain range, Margherita is a small picturesque town with some luscious green tea gardens to explore. Coal India Limited has the biggest industrial plant here, and many collieries function here including the open cast mining of Tikok. Plywood and Tea are the other major industries functioning in this area. The historic Stilwell Road is also located here near Ledo.

Tea Garden in Margherita

Munglang Buddhist Monastery located at Ledo is a very famous temple visited by devotees around the year to seek blessings from the monk. A kind of sacred stone for rings is available at this temple which is considered auspicious for which people come from far and wide. The local Singpho Village is that very place where the “medicinal herb” tea was discovered by Bessa Gam, the chief of the ethnic tribe. Singhpho Eco Lodge and Singhpho Villa are two popular places which serves authentic ethnic Singpho food which one should definitely not miss.

Read: India’s Longest Bridge: Dhola-Sadiya Bridge

Digboi

Digboi
Source: assaminfo.com

Digboi, 39 kms from Tinsukia, is known as the oil city of Assam because of its crude oil production. Digboi is Asia’s first oil town with the first Refinery commissioned in 1901. Digboi Oil Refinery is a popular tourist attraction along with the War Cemetery and Digboi Centenary Museum. The War Cemetery was a burial ground for Burmese soldiers during the Second World War which was much later built as a memorial ground. The Centenary Museum or Park opened in 2002 as a part of the centenary celebration of Digboi Oil Refinery, displays preserved machinery.

Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve
Source: time8.in

How to reach:

The nearest airport to Tinsukia is Dibrugarh Mohanbari Airport which is located at a distance of around 49 kms. Cabs are available from the airport to Tinsukia.

Tinsukia Railway Station is a major station centrally located and well connected by trains from all over the country.

Where to stay:

Hotel Royal Highness
Source:
  • Padmini Resort: Nestled amidst the lush green tea gardens, Padmini Resort is eco-friendly and provides modern luxury comfort. It is spread across a 10 acre plot with landscaped garden, private villa, swimming pool with a bar and a restaurant.
  • Wathai Heritage Bungalow: This is a boutique plantation bungalow at Limbuguri Tea Estate in Tinsukia and around Dibru-Saikhowa National Park. Only 3 rooms are available at this heritage bungalow.
  • Hotel Royal Highness: Located at GNB Road, Tinsukia this is a luxurious 3 star hotel approved by Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India.
  • Aroma Residency: This is a boutique hotel located at Rongagora Road, Tinsukia.

Book your hotels at Tinsukia by clicking here: https://clnk.in/pHG3

Kati Bihu

Kongali Bihu is celebrated on the first day in the Assamese month of Kati (mid-October) and therefore also called Kati Bihu. This bihu is associated with crop protection and worship of crops and plants. Kati is a season of short supplies and hence no festivities or merriment take place as such. Kongali literally means dearth or poor. 

Earthen lamp at the paddy fields on Kati Bihu
Earthen lamp at the paddy fields
Source: https://instagram.com/shantanu_chowdang?igshid=ml2azojdhxgv

Kati bihu is one of the three bihu celebrated in Assam, the other two being Bohaag bihu and Magh Bihu. The word bihu has been derived from the Deori word “bisu” which means “excessive joy”. And true to its name, bihu is about merriment and feasting. Kati bihu, however, doesn’t involve much feasting but definitely is joyous because of the hope for a better crop.

During the month of Kati the granaries are almost empty, and the paddy in the fields are in the growing stage. On this day of Kati bihu earthen lamps are lit at the paddy fields as a worship to the Laxmi (crop) seeking blessings in the form of abundance. The lamps lit on the paddy fields are referred to as “Akash Bonti” literally meaning sky candle because these are lit high up in a bamboo pole. Scientifically it is believed that the light of the lamps attract insects which gets burned in the fire. This helps in getting rid of the insects ensuring the healthy growth of the crops.

Earthen lamp near tulsi plant on Kati Bihu
Earthen lamp near tulsi plant
Source: https://instagram.com/_s.h.i.l.p.a_b?igshid=11ok7fqc6u38w

Tuloxir tole tole

Mrigo pohu sore

Take dekhi Ramchandra e

Xar dhonu dhore

Kar ghorot logai saki

Guxhai phure dine rati

O Ram, O Ram

Ram Ram Ram

Every Assamese household nurtures a plant of tulsi (ocimum sanctum) in their courtyard which is worshipped as a form of Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of abundance. On the day of Kati bihu earthen lamps are also lit at the altar of the plant and sing this verse as a prayer. In fact some practice lighting this lamp at the altar throughout the month of Kati which is considered auspicious.

Bhoral, granary
Bhoral, granary
Source: acupofassamtea.com

Assam is an agrarian state and therefore crops, cows and everything associated with cultivation and agriculture is worshipped. Every traditional Assamese rural household has a granary which stocks the harvest where earthen lamps are lit during kati bihu in the evening. 

Apart from lighting the earthen lamps in the evening, an offering of maah praxad is made at the main prayer house which is very basic. This includes different types of fruits (usually 5 different types) along with green gram and black chickpeas. The praxad is then served to every family member and guests, if any. The essence of Kati bihu is to keep everything simple and basic because this is not a season of abundance. 

Maah praxad
Maah praxad
Source: https://instagram.com/paris_cookbook?igshid=1ocpsv5v0pjaq

Kati Bihu is basically Laxmi puja where we offer prayers to Goddess Laxmi to bless us with abundance. In Assam we consider the crops as our Laxmi, the one who feed us, since Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for the people here. So the rituals revolve around the paddy fields, the granary, the gardens, and the tulsi plant.

Hajo – The Ideal Pilgrimage Hub for Everyone

Hajo, situated on the banks of the river Brahmaputra, is an ideal pilgrimage center for Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist pilgrims alike. Hajo boasts of a great communal harmony with some very popular temples, mosques and pagodas.

In 1992 the Manikut Utsav was first organized in Hajo to uphold communal brotherhood and since then has been celebrated every year. On the first day of Magh the Manikut Utsav is celebrated with a cultural procession starting from sacred Powa Mecca to Hayagriv Madhav Mandir. People of all religions, all communities take part in this procession performing folk dances and songs. The idea behind this is to uphold universal peace and brotherhood.

Hajo Manikut Utsav
Hajo Manikut Utsav
Source: raiot.in

Hajo is a destination for those who loves spirituality, archeology and has great religious beliefs. Many myths and history surround this ancient pilgrimage site and is visited by thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year.

Doul Utsav or Holi is another important festival celebrated in Hajo every year during Phagun Poornima, full moon day. This festival is organized for three to five days in the Vaishnav tradition.

How to reach:

Road to Powa Mecca, Hajo
Road to Powa Mecca, Hajo
Source: tripadvisor.in

Hajo is situated at a distance of only 24 kms from Guwahati. You can book a cab from Guwahati or opt to travel by bus.

Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport is the nearest airport, and Guwahati Railway station the nearest train station.

Places to visit in Hajo:

Sri Sri Hayagriv Madhav Mandir

Hayagriv Madhav Temple
Hayagriv Madhav Temple
Source: asiguwahaticircle.gov.in

Sri Sri Hayagriv Madhav Mandir also known as the stone temple is the most popular temple in Hajo. According to some, Lord Vishnu finally established in the hill of Monikut where the present temple is located. A fleet of stairs up the hill will lead you to the temple. The presiding deity in the temple is Lord Vishnu worshipped as an idol carved out of black stone. Some Buddhists also believe that it was in this place that Buddha attained Nirvana. Therefore this is an important place for Buddhist pilgrims as well.

Hayagriv Madhav Mandir
Hayagriv Madhav Mandir
Source: Instagram – Sanjay Sasidharan

According to some historians, the original Madhav temple was constructed by the king of the Pala Dynasty during the 6th century AD. The present structure, however, was constructed by King Raghudeva Narayan in 1583.

Holi is a very important festival celebrated here every year. Just like the Doul Utsav of Barpeta, Madhav Mandir doul utsav is also very popular and thousands of devotees and tourists visit Hajo during this festival.

Hajo Powa Mecca

Hajo Powa Mecca
Hajo Powa Mecca
Source: awesomeassam.org

Powa Mecca is a very important religious site of the Muslims built by Mir Lutuffulah-i-Shiraji in 1657. The meaning of the assamese word ‘powa’ is quarter. Powa Mecca therefore is figuratively considered to be the mini version of Mecca. Moreover according to rumours the soil on which the foundation of the mosque was laid was brought from Mecca. The burial chamber of Pir Giasuddin Auliya who was a pioneer of Islam is found here.

Kedareshwar Temple

Sri Sri Kedar Temple
Source: nexplore.org

Kedareshwar temple is located on top of the Madanachala hill in Hajo. This is a Shiva temple and showcases a large Shivalinga made of stone and covered by a large metal bowl. This Shivalinga is called the Svayambhu Linga which is referred to as the Ardhanariswara form of Lord Shiva.

Joy Durga Temple

Joy Durga temple
Joy Durga temple
Source: rgyan.com

Joy Durga temple dedicated to Goddess Durga is another important Hindu temple in Hajo. The idol is in the form of a stone. The temple was built in the year 1777 on the orders of the Ahom king Lakshminath Singha.

Dhoparguri Satra

Dhoparguri Satra
Dhoparguri Satra
Source: famousindiantouristplaces.blogspot.com

The Dhoparguri Satra in Barpeta was established in 1587 by the Vaisnavite saint Sri Madhavdeva. The satra has many holy spots such as the Gokrana, Vikrana and the Swargdwar.

Satras are like cultural institutions that preach the life of Lord Krishna and allow young boys to lead a disciplined life in the praise and dedication of the Lord. You can experience the daily lives of the practitioners of Satras in Majuli, which is also popular as The Land of Satras.

Sualkuchi

Sualkuchi silk factory
Sualkuchi silk factory
Source: trawell.in

Sualkuchi, the Manchester of the East, is located at a distance of around 12 km from Hajo. Sualkuchi is a major silk-producing village in Assam. Something which started with a few cottage industries has today grown into a commercial hub producing quality silk products.

Where to stay:

Hotel Atithi
Hotel Atithi
Source: booking.com

Since Hajo is very near to Guwahati city so you can opt to stay comfortably at some good hotels in the city. The list below include some budget hotels in Guwahati city at some prime locations. All these hotels are close to the market and has many restaurants in its vicinity.

Hotel Atithi : Hotel Atithi is located at Paltan Bazaar near Nepali Mandir which is a central location in Guwahati city and has easy access to any kind of transport facilities.

Hotel Nandan
Hotel Nandan
Source: makemytrip.com

Hotel Nandan : Hotel Nandan is located at G.S.Road, Paltan Bazaar which is at a walking distance from Guwahati Railway Station and ASTC bus stand.

Hotel Mayflower : Hotel Mayflower is located at Nehru Road, Panbazar.

Hotel Kiranshree Portico: Hotel Kiranshree Portico is just a few meters away from Guwahati Railway Station and is a very comfortable hotel at a prime location.

Bell metal bowl and spoon

History and Significance of Bell Metal in Assam

The precious bell metal industry is the second-largest handicraft industry of Assam. Sarthebari in Bajali district of Assam is home to this craft. It is a place unheard to many and so is the craft of bell metal. Much astonishing is the fact that 40 percent of the residents in Sarthebari live upon this craft.

Baan bati, a variant of bell metal utensils
Baan bati, a variant of bell metal utensils Source: dsource.in

Bell metal is an alloy of copper and tin with much utilitarian and aesthetic value in Assam. If you visit any household in Assam you will come across a form of bell metal utensil in their home. Every Assamese takes great pride in serving their guests in bell metal utensils. People of Assam use bell metal for various ceremonious occasions and domestic purposes.

The craftsmen of the bell metal industry are referred to as kahar or orja. They still carry through the age-old technique of preparing these utensils by hand which is very tiring and needs great skills. The fact that these utensils are handmade increases their beauty and value.

Bell metal bati ( bowl) and spoon
Bell metal bati ( bowl) and spoon

Bell metal industry as a whole is very huge with thousands of craftsmen plying their trade. But in reality, this is the amalgamation of many small scale industries with very small set ups. The craftsmen get together in these small set ups to prepare various bell metal products.

Nowadays you will find many factories manufacturing bell metals of craftsmanship like handmade. But these craftsmen of Sarthebari continue their hard work undaunted by these challenges.

Craftsmen at Sarthebari Bell Metal industry
Craftsmen at Sarthebari Bell Metal industry Source: abhijna-emuseum.com

History of Bell Metal in Assam

History of bell metal craft dates back to 7th Century AD during the time of Kumarbhaskarvarman, a king of the Varman dynasty. But it was only during the Ahom rule in Assam that the industry got its due exposure. The Ahom kings started taking special interest in this craft. They showered laurels and gave special incentives to artisans excelling in this craft. The industry was given royal patronage which thereby flourished.

Ahom royalty and the common subject as well started using bell metal utensils. The artisans felt inspired by the royal patronage to craft more varieties over time.

Maihang or baan kahi
Maihang or baan kahi
Source: kahibati.com

Many Indians including Assamese people believe in certain medicinal properties of bell metal. It is believed that food consumption in bell metal utensils help in treatment of intestinal conditions and cleanse the body of unwanted minerals.

The Ahom royalty evidently used Maihang kahi and Maihang bati and till date it prove to be invaluable. It is in fact used to serve the most esteemed guests today as a mark of showing respect.

The common products made in Sarthebari are kalah or water pot, sarai (traditional tray or platter), kahi (dish), bati (bowl), lota (water pot) and tal or cymbal.

Traditional sarai
Traditional sarai
Source: kahibati.com

Religious and Social Importance of Bell Metal Utensils

In Assam all religious and social ceremonies are solemnized in proper traditional ways. There are age old customs we have been following till date with the same spirit and bell metal products occupy an important role in these. For example, when a baby takes his/her first solids we hold the Annaprasanna ceremony and this first meal is served in utensils of bell metal which is kind of a tradition. This first set of utensils is gifted by the maternal grandparents with much love and affection. Most of the guests who attend the ceremony also gifts bell metal utensils to the baby.

Bell metal utensils
Bell metal utensils
Source: kahibati.com

Bell metal products also play an important role in our social way of life. We gift a sarai to felicitate a person as a token of love and respect. In religious ceremonies too the sarai is used to make offerings to the gods. Another variation of the sarai called the bota is also an important part of any religious or social function.

Bell metal utensils are used on a daily basis by most households to serve food, especially to elders. And when guests visit it is almost customary to serve food in these utensils.

Bota - A type of tray or platter
Bota ( a type of tray or platter)
Source: mugasilk.in

How to Reach the Home of Bell Metal Industry

Sarthebari is located at around 90 kms from Guwahati city and is well connected by buses and other means of transport. Hiring a cab, however, would be an easier option than travelling by buses or on trains. You can opt for a day tour to this little town. Guwahati to Sarthebari via Hajo is 76 kms away and takes around two and half hours of drive. Tihu in Nalbari district is the nearest railway station to reach Sarthebari from Guwahati railway station. Sarthebari is well connected with Guwahati and just takes a day’s tour from the city. So staying in Guwahati would be the best option.

Baanbati
Baanbati
Source: dsource.in

The Crisis of the Bell Metal Industry in Assam

The craft of making bell metal products has been passed down from one generation to another. Therefore there tends to be a certain lack of interest in the trade by the younger generation of these kahar. It is only because of lack of employment that they stick to the trade. Though this is not the case with all the craftsmen. However, there is urgent need to provide skill based training by the government to develop interest.

Availability and procurement of raw material is another issue faced by these craftsmen. Since there is no fixed market, sales also tends to vary. The amount of investment required can hardly be afforded by them. Further there have been rise in factories manufacturing products of bell metal in large quantities which is much cost effective. Therefore government intervention is of utmost importance inorder to save this craft and the craftsmen.

Bell Metal Craftsmen at Sarthebari
Craftsmen at Sarthebari
Source: telegraphindia.com

The bell metal industry of Sarthebari is striving hard to survive, more so after the pandemic has hit the entire world. So during your tour to Assam this time include Sarthebari in your list of places to visit and buying a bell metal souvenir would be a wise decision.

Assamese Traditional Jewellery: A Tale of the Rich Cultural Legacy

The Assamese traditional jewellery in essence shows the rich cultural legacy of Assam. Drawing inspiration from little things which appears mundane, the early craftsmen created beautiful pieces of art with sheer skill and imagination. The flora and fauna of the region has also been a source of inspiration to these craftsmen.

Thuria earrings
Source: saffronart.com

Brief History of Assamese Traditional Jewellery

During the reign of Swargadeo Pratap Singha in 1611 a lot of people were held captives by Bir Chilarai, the General of the Koch King Nar Narayan. Among them were goldsmiths, blacksmiths and other artisans who were sent to Cooch-Behar. There they learnt new art and craft which they implemented in their work on return to their homeland. King Pratap Singha’s grandson Rudra Singha also brought many artisans from outside the state and established them in his territory. These people adapted and merged with the Assamese people and society and gradually evolved the traditional Assamese jewellery.

Golpota neck piece with earrings

You can buy a similar product here : https://clnk.in/pgRT

The Ahom kings and queens wore ornaments of different styles and it was under the royal patronage that Assamese traditional jewellery saw a tremendous growth. During the Ahom rule ornaments were worn only by the royalty which was made of gold. Subansiri, a tributary of the river Brahmaputra was abundant with gold dust and became a primary source for the goldsmiths. Jorhat, Sonari, Nagaon and Barpeta became the major manufacturing hubs of Assamese traditional jewellery over the ages.

Designs and Jewellery Making Process

Dugdugi neck piece with earrings

Assamese traditional jewellery can be made of either pure gold ( 24 carat), silver with gold leaf work, silver with gold polish or even silver. However, the base for all jewellery making is extracted from trees and is called ‘lac’. Mina work is done on these jewellery and the most common colors are red and green. Even ruby, pearls and diamonds are used for making these jewellery. The main jewellery piece is then attached to a beaded string in the form of a neck piece. These beads are either small or of medium size and are called bakharua moni, balmoni, desimoni etc.

Junbiri neck piece
Source: getkraft.com

There are roughly three variations to the manufacturing process, particularly the frame of these ornaments. In the first variety the frame is made with gold and the filling is that of silver or lac. This type is called kesa sonar gohona or paat sunor gohona. The second variety contains silver or lac as base metal and the filling is done with gold foils. In the third variety the frame and filling both is of silver finished with a coat of gold polish. In Barpeta the jewellery is made with silver as the base with gold coating which makes it lighter and cheaper. Ranthali, a village in Nagaon district is another hub of jewellery making. The process used here is the second one where gold leaf work is done over silver base.

Jaapi neck piece
Source: ethnicstripes.com

The designs that have been continuing since generations are lokaparo ( twin pigeon) and senpotia ( eagle), inspired from birds. Thuria and dugdugi are inspired from the flora; dhol, japi, mridong inspired from local musical instruments.

Assamese traditional jewellery includes earrings called thuria, keru, lokaparo, jangfai etc. Necklaces include golpota, satsori, junbiri, bena, gejera, dholbiri, dugdugi, birimoni, mukutamoni, poalmoni, silikhamoni and magardana etc. The gamkharu, which is kind of a bangle has the most royal presence when worn with the traditional muga Mekhela Sador.

Gamkharu
Source: mugasilk.in

Modernization and Evolution

There had been certain issues faced by the craftsmen of traditional Assamese jewellery like lack of raw materials, lack of finance and market. But with the intervention of a few talented entrepreneurs in the recent years, Assamese traditional jewellery has seen unprecedented popularity globally. These entrepreneurs invested their creativity, money and time, generated employment and empowered the skilled craftsmen. Today we see several new designs which are creative and modern yet essentially traditional. Further, these new jewellery designers create unique stylish ornaments suited to the taste of the young generation which are easily affordable in a variety of range and trendy too. The popularity has therefore increased manifolds as women of all ages prefer adorning themselves with these jewellery on all occasions, and even on a daily basis.

Modern and stylish version of the traditional Assamese jewellery
Source: https://instagram.com/aparajita_das_baruah?igshid=1dmi4fzl5k7xb

Earlier there were no showrooms or boutiques for Assamese traditional jewellery. You either had to purchase or order at the sonar based on the designs that are available. Much later came the small outlets which displayed the ornaments for customers to choose from. This was convenient and fast. And then came the online boutiques, the modern concept of marketing. This made Assamese traditional jewellery popular worldwide. Popular online sites like Amazon also features Assamese jewellery.

Modified traditional Assamese bangle design
Source: getkraft.com

Significance and Popularity

The Ahom royalty, both men and women used to adorn themselves with these traditional ornaments. Over the ages women adorned these ornaments on special occasions like weddings and especially Rongali Bihu. In fact, it is still customary to present the bride-to-be with a traditional Assamese jewellery set in her Juron ceremony as a part of the wedding trousseau. During bihu celebration the young girls dressed in the traditional attire Mekhela Sador adorn the traditional jewellery too and gracefully dance to the rhythm of the dhol. Young girls and women nowadays gracefully wear these ornaments for casual outings, corporate parties and any special occasion as designers these days create quirky wearable designs out of the traditional ones.

Men’s traditional Assamese jewellery
Source:https://instagram.com/zangfai_assamese_jewelry?igshid=6cvckws6pzhn

Assamese traditional ornaments is gradually getting popular among men too. Though the variety and use is not much but men too can style themselves by wearing these traditional ornaments. There are few designs made specifically for men like madol etc. Designers have modified the available ones to give it a modern quirky style. These modified versions are a style statement in themselves.

Lokaparo neck piece with earrings
Source:https://instagram.com/saatsori_jewellery?igshid=1bdiee8pfdwlh

Assamese traditional jewellery has come a long way, from being restricted to a certain class of people to being accessible to all. The craft had experienced a major setback a few years back because of the lack of a proper market place. The popularity was gradually declining even among Assamese people. Then came the experimentation with designs and colors, contemporary styles were followed to keep with the updated taste of consumers. Carrying forward the legacy, Assamese traditional jewellery today has been able to achieve much popularity, not only in Assam or India, but internationally too.

Panimur Waterfall

Panimur waterfall – The Niagara of Assam

Panimur waterfall is located in Umrangso of Dima Hasao district of Assam in the North Cachar hills. This offbeat tourist destination is called the Niagara of Assam and the resemblance cannot be overlooked. The beautiful Kopili river water hitting the rocks with great force finally gushes down creating the image of a lively and free spirited soul enjoying its youth. The bard of Assam, Late Dr. Bhupen Hazarika in one of his songs calls the Kopili river a young free spirited girl who is unpredictable yet with many qualities.

Kopili Kopili rangdhali suali

Mohima buja ke taan

Kopili Kopili toi hoi baoli

Barixhat marili dhaan

Kopili Kopili gabhoru suali

Chanchala nai tur maan

Kopili Kopili dehar bhaje bhaje

Mitha jowbonore gaan

Dr. Bhupen Hazarika
Panimur waterfall, Dima Hasao
Source: gosahin.com

With youth comes the wavering of the heart, the desire to wander and fall in love and Kopili river too is like a girl who has just become of age. She meanders through the rocky ways creating a bubbling sound just like a girl singing and dancing. The water then cascades down the hills and at this level the water is milky white in colour just like a girl dressed in a wavy white dress. This is the spring of a girl’s life when she is full of vigour and youthfulness.

This exactly is witnessed in the Panimur waterfall part of the Kopili river. But soon Kopili changes colour with the monsoon, she now takes on a devastating look. She levels down the paddy and the plains with her fierce waters creating a havoc.

Panimur waterfall is relatively less explored by tourists but has great tourism potential. It is gradually becoming popular because the beautiful natural surroundings and the ethereal beauty of the fall itself is finally reaching the masses. The picturesque location is favourite among photographers and videographers too. There’s a forest nearby which adds to the beauty and thrill of the place.

The Forest Inspection Bungalow can accomodate few tourists on prior notice but it would be better to stay at nearby Lumding or even Guwahati.

Places to visit near Panimur:

Haflong lake
Source: noblehousetours.com

#1. Haflong: Haflong, which is at an altitude of more than 600 metres above sea level, is the district headquarters of Dima Hasao and is the only hill station in Assam. Dima Hasao means ‘Dimasa hills’ in the local language.

Haflong is a dream destination for nature lovers and camping enthusiasts. One can do trekking in the Haflong hill or do camping among the vibrant green forests. Located at the heart of the city Haflong lake is a major tourist attraction. It has the largest natural water bodies of Assam and much like Deepor Beel, it is a haven for migratory birds in winter.

#2. Maibong: Maibong is a beautifully landscaped small town with mountains, waterfalls and many historical relics. It is located in the hilly region of Mahur river. The main attractions is the two-roofed monolithic temple Ramchandi.

Jatinga river
Source: reddit.com

#3. Jatinga: Jatinga is located at a distance of 9 km from Haflong and is a popular bird watching site. This place is actually famous for its ‘bird suicide ‘ phenomenon. The locals observed that during the months of August and November different species of birds die because of mysterious reasons here. Tourists visit this place during these months to witness this strange phenomenon which later, however, was deciphered by the scientists.

#4. Umrangso: Umrangso in Dima Hasao is an industrial town with projects like NEEPCO (Kopili hydro-electric project) and cement plants of Vinay Cement, Dalmiya Cement etc.

Garampani was a very popular hot spring in this region but the dam water made it disappear completely which is a great loss indeed.

Kopili hydro-electric project (NEEPCO)
Source: neepco.co.in

How to reach:

Panimur waterfall is situated at a distance of 120 kms from Haflong.

It is at a distance of around 217 kms from Guwahati and takes approximately 5 hours to reach the destination via road. You can take a flight to Gopinath Bordoloi International airport, Guwahati and hire a cab directly. You can also opt to board a train to Lumding and then hire a cab.

Lumding is the nearest Railway station from where Panimur is located at a distance of 72.2 kms. From there one can hire a cab to visit this place. Lumding is well connected by the major trains from states around the country.

You can book your hotels here: https://clnk.in/pf2y

Where to stay:

Haflong has good lodging options from where you can visit Panimur waterfall and the nearby places as well. You can easily check in at the following hotels in Haflong.

Landmark Hotel, Haflong
Source: tripadvisor.in
  • Landmark Hotel: This hotel overlooks the beautiful Haflong lake and has 49 rooms ranging from luxury suites to standard rooms. A few tourist attractions, other than Panimur waterfall, are at a walking distance from this hotel. The hotel has an in-house fine dining restaurant and bar facilities as well.
  • Eastern Hotel: Located centrally in Haflong the hotel offers comfortable lodging. It also has an in-house restaurant where you can enjoy an Assamese meal.

Best time to visit:

Panimur Waterfall
Source: theoodlesrainbow.com

Autumn is the best time to visit when the fall looks best and so is Spring. In summer the water dries down a little and winter tends to be cold. Monsoon is the worst time since the river Kopili takes a devastating role destroying the nearby paddy fields and villages as well.

The timings to visit this waterfall is from 6AM to 5 PM.

The weather remains comparatively pleasant throughout. But October to March are the most comfortably months to visit Dima Hasao in general.

Visit these Restaurants in Guwahati for Ethnic Assamese food: My personal favorites!

Assamese cuisine is a burst of different rich flavors which is light on your palate at the same time. For many of you gahori manxho, xhar, aloo pitika might be synonymous to ethnic Assamese cuisine. But the variety which Assamese cuisine offers is unimaginable unless you see and savour it yourself. From locally grown herbs to local produce, local variety of fish and unique cooking techniques, ethnic Assamese cuisine is too good to resist. If you want to taste the flavors of Assam then visit these restaurants in Guwahati which gives you the perfect taste of ethnic Assamese cuisine.

To know more about the popular ethnic Assamese delicacies read my blog post Top 10 most popular ethnic Assamese dish.

Parampara Paradise

This is one of the oldest and most popular restaurants in Guwahati serving authentic ethnic Assamese cuisine. Located in Silpukhuri, the restaurant has a very cozy ambience with great seating arrangements. It can accommodate large groups comfortably, and satisfy your taste buds giving you the best experience of Assamese flavors.

A typical thali in Parampara Paradise
Source: tripadvisor.in

Parampara thali is their meal speciality served in bell metal dishes. You will be served a welcome drink which depends on the seasonal availability of fruits or vegetables. Gooseberry or local lime soft drink is served as a welcome drink with this thali along with 13 other food items which includes Assamese speciality like khar, pitika, kharoli, khorisa, kuhudi, fish tenga, steamed fish, pigeon or duck curry, dal, rice, mixed vegetables, mahor guri and traditional dessert of hurum (puffed rice) with thick cream and jaggery.

The restaurant offers not only thali or meal but also a-la-carte menu. The ethnic Assamese menu ranges from duck, pork, chicken and pigeon to a variety of locally available fish and a variety of vegetarian options as well.

Parampara Paradise
Source: tripadvisor.in

The restaurant is currently following all protocols as directed by the government. While maintaining social distancing the restaurant is temporarily offering self-service and food is being served in disposable plates. Tables are being set 6 feet apart, staff is properly equipped with masks, face shields and sanitizers, the premise is sanitized everyday before opening and after closing.

The address of this restaurant is:

Parampara Paradise, Maniram Dewan Road, Krishna Nagar, Silpukhuri, Guwahati- 781003, Assam.

Mising Kitchen

Located in the heart of the city at Hengerabari, Mising Kitchen offers ethnic Assamese cuisine along with Mising cuisine. The restaurant is not very spacious but certainly is guest-friendly and homely. In fact, this is my personal favourite when it comes to taste and value for money.

Interior of Mising Kitchen
Source: magicpin.in

The few times I went there to dine I have witnessed full house of diners who come hungry and leave content. The restaurant offers ethnic Assamese as well as Mising cuisine which gives food lovers different options to choose from. They even serve thali specially for kids catering to their small appetite and choice of food.

The restaurant offers Normal thali with a choice of chicken, pork, duck, fish and even paneer. Like all Assamese thalis, the platter includes a variety of dishes from khar, pitika to curry and dessert.

Mising Kitchen
Source: justdial.com

The address of this restaurant is:

Mising Kitchen, House no. 24, 1st floor, Near Public Health Chariali, Hengrabari Road, Ganeshguri, Guwahati, Assam.

Gam’s Delicacy

Talk about beautiful interiors, spacious dining, awesome flavors, Gam’s Delicacy has it all. The first thing that caught my eyes on entering this restaurant for the first time was their unique furniture and bamboo decor. Located just below the Ganeshguri flyover in the heart of the city, this restaurant attracts a lot of customers. They also operate another unit located just opposite the ISBT and Balaji temple in Garchuk, Guwahati. One can easily arrange any kind of family functions or social meetings here given the space the restaurant offers.

Gam’s Delicacy, Garchuk unit
Source: tripadvisor.in

The restaurant offers Fish, Pork and Chicken thali with a variety of 14 items. For example, a typical pork thali will include Joha rice, yellow dal, Green veg/herbs fry, Pork curry, Pork with black dal, Pork boil, Pork patot diya (wrapped in banana or Tora leaf), Pork khorika, aloo pitika ( mashed potatoes), kheer, green salad, pickle, mint chutney and lentil chutney served in brass metal dishes and bowls.

Duck, pigeon and mutton varieties are available as part of their a-la-carte menu along with a variety of other ethnic Assamese dishes. Local varieties of fish and vegetables are available cooked with different local ingredients and herbs.

Gam’s Delicacy city unit
Source: sentinelassam.com

The addresses of the 2 units of this restaurant are:

Gam’s Delicacy, Krishna Market, GMC ward no. 44, G.S.Road, Ganeshguri, Guwahati, Assam.

Gam’s Delicacy Restaurant, Betkuchi, Opposite Maniram Dewan Trade Centre, NH 37, Garchuk, Guwahati, Assam.

Heritage Khorikaa

Heritage Khorikaa is the brainchild of Assam’s celebrity chef Atul Lahkar. He is a self-made and self-taught man, learning authentic cuisines directly from the locals over the years. He is a curious mind, always experimenting with ingredients and flavors. His restaurant is very popular because of his proud association with celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Sanjeev Kapoor among others as well as for his great culinary skills.

Chef Atul Lahkar and Chef Sanjeev Kapoor in front of Heritage Khorikaa
Source: quicklisting.in

Located at Chandmari, the restaurant serves flavoursome authentic ethnic Assamese food. The restaurant offers a Vegetarian thali or meal with around 10 to 12 items and a choice of different meat and fish to choose from. Pork, Duck, Pigeon, Chicken and different varieties of fish are available on the menu. Khorikaa meaning barbeque, among other popular dishes, is their speciality as the name suggests.

The only time I tasted their flavoursome food left me craving for more. Their highlight seems to be the a-la-carte menu rather than the thali, which leaves a lingering taste on your palate of that special dish you savoured. I hope to visit this restaurant soon for another gastronomic experience.

Interiors of Heritage Khorikaa
Source: justdial.com

The address of this restaurant is:

Heritage Khorikaa, GNB Road, Behind Goswami Service Station HP petrol pump, Chandmari, Guwahati, Assam

Maihang

Maihang, I guess, is the largest operating restaurant chain in Assam with two branches in the city, and a few are outside Guwahati. The new outlet of Maihang was recently opened in Hengerabari in the city, which gives a very traditional vibe on entering because of their unique decor and plush interiors.

The table with Maihang, the traditional serving dish on display.
Source: maihang.in

The restaurant offers 2 thali or meal options- Maihang veg thali and Maihang non-veg thali. The rest are in their a-la-carte menu. The vegetarian meal includes 11 items like Joha rice, yellow dal, black dal, aloo pitika/bengena pitika, seasonal mixed vegetables, green vegetables fry, xhar/bor tenga, green veg boil, kharoli, baby potato fry, herbal chutney. In the non-veg thali a few of the veg items have been replaced by the non-veg varieties. For example, if you choose a fish thali you will get fish pitika, murighonto, fish tenga curry and fish fry.

The usual delicacies of duck, fish, pigeon and pork are available cooked with a variety of different ingredients and different styles. The restaurant gives utmost importance to healthy food and hygiene. They boast of their til chicken ( chicken cooked with black sesame seeds) as their signature and most popular dish.

The interior of Maihang
Source: maihang.in

The address of this restaurant is:

Maihang, Public Health tiniali, Lichubagan, Hengerabari Road, Guwahati, Assam

Me-Dam-Me-Phi: AHOM’S Ancestor worship

The life of the dead is set in the memory of the living

Marcus Tullius Cicero

The Ahom community of Assam practices their own unique customs and rituals. Me-Dam-Me-Phi is one of such ceremonies, in-fact it is the most important socio-religious ceremony of the Ahoms performed to show respect to the departed souls and remember their contribution to society. It is the proper ancestor worship conducted as a community by the Ahoms every year on 31st January. The Tai words ‘me‘ means offerings, ‘dam‘ means ancestors and ‘phi‘ means Gods; collectively meaning “offerings to the ancestors and Gods”.

Ancestor worship
Source: happenings.lpu.in

Origin:

According to the Ahom Chronicles, Lengdon, the king of Mong Phi ( the heavenly kingdom) sent two of his grandsons Khun-Lung and Khun-Lai to Mong Ri ( present day Xishuangbanna, China). They were advised by the God of Knowledge to perform Umpha, Phuralong, Me-dum-me-phi, and Rik-khwan worship at different months of the year on different occasions to pay respect to the ancestors. This was like seeking blessings from the ancestors to help maintain their political hold over the masses.

History:

Charaideo, about 30 kms from Sivasagar town, was the first capital of the Ahom kingdom and later became their religious centre. There is a huge burial ground here with many mounds or maidams of Ahom kings, queens and Ahom royalty. The Ahoms don’t burn the dead bodies but keep it in a box and bury. This burial mound is called maidam.

Charaideo Maidam.
Source: mapsofindia.com

Me-Dam-Me-Phi was celebrated here in Charaideo first by Swargadeo Siu-ka-pha to seek blessings of his forefathers after establishing the new capital there. His successors continued performing this ceremony thereafter, which was attended by the king, his ministers and other higher officials, as well as a great number of people. There is historical evidence of the Ahom kings performing this socio-religious ceremony every year. Swargadeo Siu-huim-mong to commemorate his victory over the Kacharis in 1563 performed the Me-Dam-Me-Phi and Rikhwan festival in his capital. Swargadeo Pratap Singha performed this worship thrice, in 1606 AD and 1615 AD to celebrate his victory against the Mughals, third time was when he was defeated by the Mughals.

Swargadeo Gadadhar Singha, Swargadeo Chakradwaj Singha, Swargadeo Pramatta Singha, Swargadeo Rajeswar Singha also performed the ceremony and offered sacrifices during their reign. The ceremony is still performed at Charaideo maidam every year.

The Ceremony and its significance:

The Ahoms believe that a man is not reborn after his death but becomes God. After death he remains as Dam (ancestor) only for a few days and soon he becomes Phi (God). They also believe that the soul of a man which is immortal unites with the supreme soul, possesses the qualities of a spiritual being and always blesses the family. Therefore the extended family and the society as a whole worship the dead ones, particularly the parents and grandparents because they firmly believe that it is the ancestors who protect the family and give peace and prosperity to their offspring.

Me-Dam-Me-Phi observed as a community offers worship to Chaufi and Dam Chaufi who are regarded as gods of heaven. Dam Chaufi is associated with the belief of some natural powers like creation and destruction, water, lightning and storm, sun, moon, learning, diseases, earth etc. The Ahom priestly classes Deodhai, Mohan and Bailung perform the rituals by chanting verses in Tai Language.

Community ancestor worship or Me-Dam-Me-Phi
Source: festivalsoflife.blogspot.com

On the day of Me-Dam-Me-Phi seven Gods are worshipped namely Lengdon (God of heaven), Zasingfa (Goddess of learning), Khaokham (God of waters), Ai-Leng-Din (God of the earth), Chit Lam Cham (seven sons of Lengdon), Mut-Kum-Tai-Kum (God of the moon and sun), and Zansaihung (the preceptor of Gods). It is customary for three priests to be present to perform the rituals.

When the Ahom kings arranged this worship sacrifices and offerings were made of white buffalo, white cow, white pig, and white hen. These days offerings of only hen and eggs are made. For the rituals the things required are: 30 hen, 30 eggs, 2 duck eggs, Xajpani, Aroi chaul (a type of rice), mustard oil, ginger, salt, Black gram, Akhoi (a kind of puffed rice), Kesa mithoi, Ukhua kesa kol, poka kol (ripe banana), kuhiar (sugarcane), bora bhat (sticky rice), thoka tamul (betel nuts) and earthen lamps etc.

The Dam Phi tradition is also observed at the family level by the Ahom community. Na-Purushor hokaam or Mritokor hokaam as it is widely known is done by the family members every year during kati month when they offer the first meal after the harvest of the Ahu rice to them. Grihadam, the ancestor God upto the fourth generation of a family, is worshipped in this Dam-Phi or Na-khua tradition. Five gods are worshipped excluding Chit-Lam-Cham and Mut-kum-tai-kum when the worship is done by the extended family. However, the worship is sometimes restricted to only Lengdon, Zasingfa and Ai-Leng-Din when conducted by a family. During Magh bihu and Rongali bihu, as well as other important occasions Mritokor hokaam is performed.

Offerings to Dam Phi.
Source: Self

Most Ahom households establish a damkhuta on the opposite side of the kitchen to worship the dead. Whenever during any special occasion na-purushor hokaam is arranged, the ancestors are worshipped by offering xajpani and various other delicacies, including meat and fish in an elaborate ritualistic affair.

Chale nerakhe, bere nerakhe

Nerakhe tridasar deo

Ghar deo e nerakhile rakhuta e aru keo

This hymn in Assamese means “neither the roof nor the walls nor the gods in heaven can protect the family, if not protected by their ancestors. ” The love and respect which is the basis of any happy and successful family is duly offered to the family members even after death by the Ahoms. Me-Dam-Me-Phi is just a day for the entire community to come together bonded by brotherhood, and express love and gratitude to their ancestors and seek their blessings.

A fisherman in River Brahmaputra

Mighty Brahmaputra River: The Metaphor of Life

Brahmaputra river has been a witness to the glorious history and culture of Assam for centuries. Assam is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-ethnic state. Different communities, tribes and ethnic groups have migrated and settled in Assam since the ancient times but have now become a part of the larger community called Assamese.

Rivers are a great natural force with an indomitable spirit and a great life source. The continuous flow of rivers, remaining undaunted in spite of many obstacles on its path to reach its goal, has been a great inspiration to mankind. Life, like the river, has to move on with the same indomitable spirit the river has.

River as a metaphor of life has found beautiful expression in a popular song Mahabahu Brahmaputra by our very own Dr. Bhupen Hazarika.

Mahabahu Brahmaputra

Mahamilonor tirtha

Koto yug dhori ahise prokashi

Somonnoyor artha…

~ Dr. Bhupen Hazarika
River Brahmaputra view from Dhola Sadiya bridge
River Brahmaputra view from Dhola Sadiya bridge
Source: Swarnav Borgohain

Assam is the land of Srimanta Sankardev where he preached his doctrine of Ek saran naam dharma ( Neo- Vaishnavism) along with Sri Madhavdev. It is the land where Guru Teg Bahadur and Ajan Fakir spread their teachings of universal brotherhood and built the bridge of solidarity. Because of the confluence of different religions and amalgamation of many ethnic communities Assam has a very rich and varied heritage. The river embraces this rich cultural heritage of the State and flows incessantly as if to continue to enrich its people till eternity.

The Brahmaputra is a trans- boundary river which flows through China, India and Bangladesh. It originates in Tibet as Yarlung Tsangpo, flows through Arunachal Pradesh as Siang or Dihang, and is called Luit in Assam. The Brahmaputra is the ninth largest river in the world in terms of discharge with an average of 700,000 cu ft/s . The river has a total length of about 3080.25 kms and an average depth of 38 m. The river has all the male attributes: fierce, powerful, unpredictable and overflowing with energy and hence the title Mahabahu coined by Dr. Bhupen Hazarika.

Mahabahu Brahmaputra is also the benefactor, the life source of the agricultural community of Assam. Crops depend a lot on water and irrigation, and Brahmaputra along with its tributaries never fails to provide nourishment at such times. Not only agriculture but related livelihood like fishing, wildlife etc. are also dependent on thr river. Periodic flooding is a natural phenomenon which is ecologically important because it helps maintain the lowland grassland and associated wildlife. It also deposits fresh alluvium replenishing the fertile soil of the Brahmaputra River Valley.

A fisherman in River Brahmaputra
A fisherman in River Brahmaputra
Source: scroll.in

During the monsoon season, from June to October, floods are a very common occurrence here in Assam. The river Brahmaputra takes on a frightening look as thousands lose their homes, crops are destroyed, animals are stranded.

Luitor bolia baan

Toi koloi nu dhapoli meliso ?

Hir hir xobde kaal rup dhori nu

Kaak nu bare bare khediso ?

Luitor buku henu baam hoi gol

Gobhirota henu kisu nuhua hol

Baan toi heyehe oliya boliya hoi

Duyu pare uposi poriso.

~ Dr. Bhupen Hazarika

The poet addresses the river as Luit and asks the reason behind the madness. What’s the reason for its fury and whom does it plan to destroy ? The poet is understanding of the fact that the river body has gone shallow which results in increased water level. The comparison here appears to be to a young lad whose heart is heavy because of the emptiness within. This emptiness leads him to wander aimlessly indifferent to the feelings and emotions of others. But life has to go on just like the river which flows overcoming all obstacles to meet the ocean one day.

A boat carrying passengers across the river Brahmaputra
A boat carrying passengers across the river Brahmaputra
Source: nenow.in

Deforestation over the years have led to increased siltation level, flash flood and soil erosion in critical downstream habitat. The effects of flooding therefore are devastating every year which still remains unsolved. The very benefactor river which gave in abundance also has to power to take back everything in heaps and bounds. This is the power of the river Brahmaputra!

The Brahmaputra has also been a source of inspiration for many during the freedom movement in Assam. Just as the river withstands the fury of time the Assamese youth vowed to overcome the enemy with courage and were willing to sacrifice their lives for the land too.

Luitor parore

Ami deka lora

Moriboloi bhoi nai.

~ Jyotiprasad Agarwalla
Sunset on river Brahmaputra
Sunset on river Brahmaputra
Source: travelspeak.in

Luitore paani jaabi o boi

Luitore paani jaabi o boi

Xandhiya luitor paani hunuwali

Sohore nogore jaabi o boi

Joyore kiriti deshe bideshe

Sagore nogore phuribi koi

~ Jyotiprasad Agarwalla

The Brahmaputra has many tales to tell- tales of co-existence, tales of migration, tales of fearless patriotic youth, tales of happy people with simple livelihood, tales of destruction in the face of flood and tales of reconstruction. The people of this land feel one with its mighty river irrespective of its unpredictable nature. The poet Jyotiprasad Agarwalla wishes that as the Brahmaputra flows across borders, it narrates the great stories of this land called Assam for centuries to remember. The mighty Brahmaputra is, in fact, the perfect embodiment of the pilgrimage called life.

Rongali Bihu: The Assamese New Year

Rongali Bihu: The Advent, the previous post, I have mentioned that Bihu is the thread that holds the people of Assam together, irrespective of community, ethnicity, language or religion. Rongali Bihu is the Assamese New Year but people of Assam come together as a state to celebrate this colourful festival.

Togor phool blooms in Bohaag
Source: lowes.com

Rongali is symbolic of youth. Nature bears new leaves during this season, the dullness of winter gives way to new life and Rongali is the celebration of this fresh breath of life. The youth therefore finds a gust of new life and this is the topic of many Bihu geet or songs. The mesmerising sound of the Dhol, pepa and baahi leaves everyone spellbound as young girls dances gracefully to the beats completely oblivious of the surroundings.

Eibeli bihuti romoke jomoke

Nahor phul phulibor botor

Nahor phulor gundhe pai

Nasonir tot e nai

Gosokot bhangi jai jotor

Bihu geet or songs

Bihu geet are the songs sung during Bihu which follow a certain tone, melody and lyrics. They are a very important part of the Assamese culture and the dominant themes being nature, love, friendship and youth. Most bihu songs are a playful expression of love by either a young boy or a girl. Bohaag adds colour to the lives of young boys and girls and love confessions and courtships are an integral part of Rongali Bihu.

Bihua playing the pepa
Source: thehindu.com

In one such song the lover tries to woo his beloved by gifting her the kopou phool. The beloved, on the other hand, secretly goes to meet her lover giving some other excuse to her mother.

Pahar bogai bogai senimai kopou phool ani dim

O senimai khupate

Khupate guji dim buli

Maarok phaki di senimai bihu loi ahili

O senimai sereki

Sereki anugoi buli

Love is a sweet emotion and has been metaphorically compared to ‘sira doi’ the traditional Assamese jolpaan. Love is like the river which flows incessantly :

Piriti piriti piriti

Piriti mitha sira doi

Piriti piriti piriti

Piriti buwa buwoti noi

Piriti piriti piriti

Ure jibon thakibo boi

These are some very popular Bihu songs on love. The river imagery has been beautifully portrayed to emphasise that love is never-ending but forever growing.

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Husori / Jeng Bihu

Husori or courtyard bihu is a form of dance performance done during Bihu by visiting every household. Young boys get together led by an elderly and sing bihu songs followed by bihu dance. When young girls perform in a troupe in the same manner it is called jeng bihu. A husori or a jeng bihu troupe visiting your house during Bihu is considered auspicious. They usher in good luck and prosperity by singing:

Jaya Rama bula

Jaya Hari bula

Grihosthor kusholarthe

Bula jai Hari bula

Bihu husori troupe
Source: topyaps.com

When a husori troupe visits you are suppose to welcome them with a gamucha leading the way to your courtyard. At the end of the husori performance a xoraai is offered to them which usually contains tamul-paan, a gamucha and a certain amount of money. Sometimes jolpaan and pithas are also offered along with tea.

Manuh Bihu

Manuh Bihu is the first day of Bohaag, the Assamese New Year. People have a ceremonial bath with maah-halodhi ( black gram and turmeric paste) and put on new clothes. Prayers are offered by lighting the chaki ( earthen lamps) in the household prayer place. The young ones of the family then seek blessings from the elders and offer the traditional gamuchas woven specially for this occasion. All family members sit together to enjoy the elaborate traditional breakfast of doi-jolpaan and pitha amidst chit-chat and laughter.

Bihu jolpaan and pitha
Source: indraniskitchenflavours.com

It is also a tradition to visit family, relatives and friends on the occasion of bihu. The reason being to spend quality time together over a family meal.

Bihu celebration on stage

In the earlier days, during the Ahom rule Bihu was celebrated with much gaiety and performances were organised for the royals. Swargadeo, the king and the other royals clad in their traditional attire sat majestically to enjoy these performances which took place in the Ranghar premises of Sivasagar.

Swargadeo ulale batsorar mukholoi

Duliya e patile dola

Kanot jilikile nora jangfai

Gaat e gumsengor sula

Ranghar bakori Bihu celebration
Source : outlookindia.com

Even today a day long celebration is organised in the premises of historic Ranghar on the occasion of Rongali Bihu keeping in view the grandeur of the tradition.

Other than Ranghar bakori bihu, Bihu stages are organised every year in every nook and corner of the State where the community come together to take part in the celebration. Husori, jeng- bihu, bihu dance, bihu song, and a variety of other cultural competitions are organised. On the first day of Bohaag , mukoli bihu is organised in Latasil field of Guwahati every year. Both Ranghar bakori bihu and Latasil field bihu are very popular and people from around the State witness it with great enthusiasm.

Mukoli Bihu is like an open stage for performances without any makeshift stage. In the earlier days, unlike the makeshift stage now, bihu either meant mukoli or gos tolor bihu.

Rongali Bihu is the main festival of Assam which falls in the Assamese month of Bohaag, hence also called Bohaag Bihu. Bihu ushers in the spring season as we hear the melodious voice of the Cuckoo, the fragrance of nahar, togor and kopou phool. Rongali thus is the celebration of new life.

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