MAGH BIHU OR MAGHAR DOMAHI by Dr. Praphulladutta Goswami

Q) How do the Kachari's celebrate the Magh Bihu ?
= Along with the Assamese people the Kachari's also celebrate Magh Bihu with similar customs. But these differ in certain features. Like the Assamese people they also tie cords round the fruit bearing trees. Like  the Assamese people they not only offer rice to the animals but also to the birds and fishes. Moreover on the day Domahi they put a mark of water mixed with cow dung, around their granary. On the seventh day of Magh Bihu they again clean the utensils and sacrifices fowls to their God Bathou and go out for carol singing to collect some eatables. They call this custom Magan or begging.

           Another point to note is that the Kachari's make Bhelaghar and set fire to them with special customs. The cowherd boys burn the Bhelaghars early in the morning before the crows come out of their nests. While setting fire to the Bhelaghar, the leading cowherd prays for the whole village as ' Glory, Glory, Glory glory to our village.' In recitation he is accompanied by the other boys. He prays that disease may not visit his village, that their village may be filled with paddy and riches, their cattle may be large and strong like the rhinoceros and the elephants. Thus, the Kacharis celebrate Magh Bihu with customs.


Q) Kati Bihu according to the author, can not be called a festival as such. How is Kati Bihu celebrated in Assam?
= Kati Bihu is one of the Bihu festivals of Assam which is known as Kangali Bihu. It is a day long festival celebrated in the month of Kati. It is celebrated as a festival of little significance. In the family yard a light is put at the foot of the Tulsi plant, and women and children offer their prayers.

            Like the other Bihu Festivals celebrated in Assam, Kati Bihu is also related to the agriculture. In this Bihu the ploughman does certain things for the protection of his crop. He plants a small bamboo post in the field and lights an earthen lamp at its foot and chant certain mantras to protect the maturing paddy from pests. Thus, Kati Bihu is celebrated in Assam.

Q) The Uruka happens to be an important aspect of Magh Bihu. Give an elaborate account of the celebrations associated with Uruka ?
= The first night of Bihu is called uruka. Magh bihu is a festival of feast. A fire ceremony is closely associated with Magh Bihu, but more significant is Uruka, the Bihu eve, Uruka is not exactly a one day affair. it is a preparation of one month. For a month people gather fire wood for the Bihu. In tribal settings women prepare rice bear. In Winter it takes four or five days to get the beer mature. On this day womenfolk get ready for the next day with chira, pitha, laru, curd etc. The men gather fire wood and fish has to be got from ponds and if possible, some meat too for the Uruka.

              Another important aspect of Uruka is that the young lads build templelike structures called Meji with green bamboo, dried banana leaves and hay. They also build Bhelaghar to spent the Uruka night. The cowherds enjoys the Uruka night in the Bhelaghar by warming themselves by a fire and making and having the vegetables and poultry that they steal from their neighbourhood. The next day early in the morning the cowherd boys set fire to the Meji and Bhelaghar with customs.
   
              Thus, the Assamese people celebrate the Uruka of Magh Bihu.

Give short answer of the following questions.

a) When is Magh Bihu celebrated ? Where has the Magh Bihu seemed to have a stronger hold ?
= Magh Bihu is celebrated in the Assamese month Magh. Magh Bihu seems to have a stronger hold on people of Lower Assam.

b) What is the meaning of Domahi? Which Bihu is best known as the festival of feasting ?
= The word Domahi is an Assamese term that means the junction of two months. Magh Bihu is best known as the festival of feasting.

c) Which Bihu is describe as the cheering Bihu? How is the Magh Bihu also Known ?
= Bohag Bihu is described as the cheering Bihu. Magh Bihu is also known as Bhogali Bihu or the Bihu of Enjoyment.

d. What is the significance of the Uruka ?
= The Uruka or the Bihu eve is an important feature of Magh Bihu. It is not a one day long affair but a preparation of a month.  On this day womenfolk get ready for the next day with  cira, pitha laru curd etc. Another important aspect of Uruka is that the young lads build templelike structures called Meji with green bamboo, dried banana leaves and hay. They also build Bhelaghar to spent the Uruka night. The cowherds enjoy the Uruka night in the Bhelaghar by warming themselves by a fire and making and having the vegetables and poultry that they steal from their neighbourhood.
  
e) Where do the women prepare rice bear ? How many days does the beer take to get matured in winter ?
= In tribal settings women prepare rice bear. In Winter it takes four or five days to get the beer mature. 
 
f) How is the Maji made ?
= The Maji is an important feature of Magh Bihu. The templelike structure Maji is build by the young boys with green bamboo, dried banana leaves and hay.

g. What is the significance of Bhelaghar ?
= Bhelaghar is an important feature  of Magh Bihu. The cowherds  make the Bhelaghar to spend thy Uruka night. They enjoys the Uruka night in the Bhelaghar by warming themselves by a fire and making and having the vegetables and poultry that they steal from their neighbourhood.

h) What is the belief regarding the ashes and half burnt bamboos ?
= There is a strong belief regarding the ashes and the half burnt bamboos of the Maji among the tribal people of Assam. The belief is  that the ashes and the half burnt bamboos increase the fertility of the fields and the gardens.

i) What kind of food people take on the day Domahi ?
= On the day Domahi people do not take rice and curry in their lunch but Chira, Pitha, Curd, Laru etc. One special preparation is mah-karai, a combination of roasted rice, black gram, sesame, and pieces of ginger. Another important item on the day Domahi is Tekeli Pitha, salted rice powder steamed on the mouth of a small pitcher or even a kettle. Sunga Pitha is also another food item of the Domahi. No meat or fish is allowed on the day Domahi.

j) What is the belief of the Europeans who lighted Lentern and Midsummer fire ?
=  The Europeans who lighted the Lentern and the Midsummer fire also believed the efficacy of ashes and embers as a means of fertility.

k) How do the Assamese people celebrate after the Meji and Bhelaghars burnt?
= After the Meji and the Bhelaghars are burnt people sit and to the accompaniment of kettledrumps and large cymbals hold a session of hymn singing. It is called nam-prasanga. After the nam-prasanga they take their launch with chira, pitha laru and so on . In the lunch they do not take rice and curry.

l) How is the delicacy of tekeli-pitha prepared ?
= The delicacy of tekeli-pitha is prepared with salted rice powder steaming on the mouth of a small pitcher or even a kettle.

m) How is the sunga-pitha prepared ?
= Sunga-pitha is prepared with moist rice powder putting in a large green bamboo tube and roasting it in fire.

n) How is the delicacy of sunga-saul prepared ?
= Sunga-saul is prepared by steaming the sticky bora rice in a bamboo tube.

o) What does the ploughman do for the protection of his crops ? 
= The ploughman does certain thing for the protection of his crop. He plants a small bamboo in the field and lights an earthen lamp at his foot. He also whirl a piece of bamboo and chant certain-mantras to protect the maturing paddy from pests. Some light the akash-banti or the sky-lamp hanging from a tall bamboo.

p) How do the cowherd boys enjoy the Uruka night ?
= The cowherd boys enjoy the Uruka night in the Bhelaghar by warming themselves by a fire and making and having the vegetables and poultry that they steal from their neighbourhood.

q) What are the different sports held on the occassion of Magh Bihu or Maghar Domahi ?
= The different sports held on the occassion of Magh Bihu or Maghar Domahi arre- wrestling, racing,jumping, buffalo fighting, egg fighting. In earlier time more martial games, like sword play and javelin throwing were played.
  
r) What does the Kacharis do on the day Domahi ?

= On the day Domahi the Kacharis put a mark of water mixed with cow dung, around their granary. 

s) What do the Kacharis do on the seventh day of Magh Bihu ?

= On the seventh day of Magh Bihu the Kacharis again clean their utensils and sacrifices fowls to their God Bathou and go out for carol singing to collect some eatables. They call this custom Magan or begging.


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