The colourful heritage and rich culture of Assam are reflected in the different types of festivities and celebrations that take place within its borders. The festivals and fairs that are celebrated in the largest Northeastern state are entertaining, engaging, vibrant and nothing less than a spectacular experience. The different tribes who call Assam their home, pay tribute to their culture and customs in their own unique and beautiful way. Whether or not you are travelling to Assam soon, this list would fill your heart with the desire to experience the vibrant, colourful and magnificent festivities of Assam.
1. Bihu Festival - The Famous Festival of Assam
2. Ambubachi Festival
3. Majuli Festival
Adored by anyone who has been a part of this festival, the festival of Majuli is considered to be one of the most pleasing and beautiful festivals of Assam. Shaped by the mighty Brahmaputra, the Majuli Island rests in the arms of the vivacious river. River Luit becomes the host of the festival with preparations of the customaries taking place at its bank. All day and night long, cultural activities are organised with enthusiasts taking part in huge numbers. Traditional troupes from different parts of the country also come down here to showcase their culture through the versatile talents that they possess.
Visit Assam during Majuli to watch the beautiful affair through your own eyes. Exhibitions are held to display the different forms of items made by artisans and experts from across Assam. These exhibitions present the traditional grandeur of Assam with items ranging from food and handicrafts to authentic clothing and wooden showpieces. The items that see the highest number of sales are the beautifully crafted potteries with exquisite details in carved upon it by the artists.
4. Dehing Patkai Festival
The joyful celebrations of Dehing Patkai, adds charm to the already bewitching beauty of Assam. Held during the month of January, in the district of Tinsukia, the festival is organized by the Government of Assam itself. The state hosts a wide variety of cultural and adventure sports like kayaking, parasailing and angling. The festival does not only spread only merry and joy but also speaks of a strong message to save the species of elephants. Yes! You read it right. It is not just about the sports and colours and celebrations but also insists on observing the necessity for saving the Elephants.
The government of Assam strive to create awareness about the alarming rate of decrease in forest cover, as a part of the Dehing Patkai Festival. You can opt for an elephant safari to explore the wildings of Assam. The festival has some excellent preparations for crafty products, delicious food items and cultural activities and performances to entertain the visitors. The festival is an unusual step taken by the Government of Assam to create awareness about the crucial issues through the bustles of performances.
5. Tea Festival
Ranked second worldwide for its production of teas, Assam celebrates the festival to glorify their authentic and tasteful tea production. The state has gained its popularity by producing some of the finest quality of tea you have ever tasted. They range from white tea to black and green tea along with the regular thin leaf tea and wide leaf tea. The city of Jorhat, known as the Tea Capital of the world, masters the ceremonies of the festival during the month of November. Exhibitions are planned and designed beautifully to show with pride, the growth, and cultivation of tea plants in the state. The festival that lasts for three days permits the visitors to taste the different varieties of tea leaves available. You can also visit the magnificent tea gardens with flourishing green leaves and captivating aromas.
6. Ras Lila in Majuli
This festival is a celebration of the life of Lord Krishna. The people of Majuli are ardent devotees of Lord Krishna. For several centuries, they have been performing dramas and dances to glorify his deeds. The Vaishnav Monks of the Sattras (monasteries) perform dramas dressed in bright and colourful attire. Children and young men and women from all backgrounds also take part in the plays. Each Sattra showcases Lord Krishna's life in their own way through various songs, plays, dances, puppets and attires. Amazingly, the festivities can go on for up to five days at a stretch. Each night is a feast for the eyes with brilliant colours and emotions from the performers and musicians. People from outside Majuli flock to the island to join in the festivities. This festival not only showcases Lord Krishna in all his glory but also brings to light the rich culture and heritage of the people of Majuli.
7. Karam Puja
A sacred festival for the tea growing tribal communities of Assam, the Karam Puja is celebrated to propitiate the favour of mother nature. It is held on Bhado Ekadashi, which is the 11th day of a full moon in the Hindu calendar month of Bhado. This day usually falls in the period of mid-August to September. The Karam tree which represents Karam Devta, the god of youth and power, is worshipped by the people. They seek his blessings to reward them with abundant harvests and to keep their families and society safe. A period of fasting is observed by few chosen unmarried girls known as 'Karam Nachis' for three days.
The main ritual is held after the fast is over. The Karam Nachis accompanied by drummers and other people from the society head to the jungle, dancing and singing joyously. Beautiful folk songs are also sung in tune to the beats of the drums. True pride and happiness can be seen when the 'Jhumur'dance is performed. A branch of the Karam tree is brought back to a chosen courtyard where it is then covered with cow dung and mud. People then gather around and sing praises of the deity. After the rituals are over, everyone joins in to share a rich feast and drink the local 'haria'. This festival signifies the closeness of the people to their surroundings and their unbounded love for mother earth.
8. Baishagu Festival
Celebrated by the Bodo Kacharis of Assam, the Baishagu festival marks the beginning of the new year. It is observed in the month of Bohag (April) of the Assamese calendar. Similar to other festivals celebrated to welcome the new year, Baishagu is a wonderful spectacle filled with colours and positive energy. Cows which are considered sacred are bathed and worshipped on the first day. The following day the younger generation offer their respects to their elders and seek their blessings. Specially prepared chicken and local rice beer (zou) is offered to Lord Shiva or Bathou.
The highlight of the festival is when the traditional Bagurumba dance is performed. Everyone joins in the dance, irrespective of age or gender. At the same time, young men play traditional instruments such as sifung, kham and tharka to which people sing along with folk songs. In the end, the closing ritual is performed at a place known as garja sali, located outside the village. The entire community gathers to offer prayers. Throughout the festival, people indulge in merrymaking. It is a time where they put their daily hard lives to the side; to sing, dance and sit down with each other to share some food and stories.
These traditional festivals organised by the state of Assam rightly shows the cultures and customs deep-rooted in the lifestyles of the people residing. Visit Assam during one of these festivities to be a part of an enriched tradition and impressive unity among the tribes of the state.