1. Bihu Festival - The Famous Festival of Assam
The most significant and important of all the cultural and vibrant celebrations in Assam is the Bihu festival. Marking the beginning of the agricultural season, Bihu brings the people of Assam together, irrespective of caste, religion, creed, gender or race. People of Assam rest their faith on their supreme God, Brai Shibrai, locally known as Father Shibrai. People offer their first crop as a gesture of their gratitude towards God and pray for peace and prosperity in all the coming years. Celebrated somewhere around April, the Bihu festival lasts for an entire month and is observed all across Assam with high spirits of appreciation. Experience the merrymakings of this festival once in your life to enjoy with the Assamese culture and lifestyle. You can find people dancing in vibrant clothes, singing traditional folklores, preparing for bonfire feasts, which are a real delight! Buffalo fights, Rangoli Utsav and traditional jewellery exhibitions are organised by the Tourism Department of Assam to allure tourists to visit Assam during the fairs and charms.
2. Ambubachi Festival
Hosted in the Kamakhya Devi temple in Guwahati, the Ambubachi Mela is organised during the monsoon season, every year. The festival, organized for a span of four days, brings out the Tantric culture practiced in many parts of Assam. The legend behind this unique fair states that Goddess Kamakhya goes through her menstrual cycle for the first three days of the festivities. This follows strict restrictions by the devotees who do not take a bath or cook a meal. People even refrain from reading holy books or performing Puja during these three consecutive days. After the said days are over, Goddess Kamakhya is cleaned with water and milk which further follows different types of rituals performed as a part of the celebrations. After the grand ceremony, the temple doors welcome the devotees to come and worship Goddess Kamakhya for purity and prosperity. The four-day festivity observes many Tantrics coming from all around to show their powers and tricks. The unique themed festival is immensely enjoyed by the visitors with fairs and stalls set up near the temples and throughout the city, selling food items, colourful artefacts, lovely centrepieces etc. The town is decorated like a newly wed bride, and people come out on streets from their houses to worship and enjoy the celebrations.
3. Majuli Festival
Adored by anyone who has been a part of this festival, 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. The festival of Majuli invites the different ethnic and cultural groups to come together under one sky to display the prepossessing beauty of their customs and faiths. 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 items made by artisans and experts from Assam. The exhibitions present the traditional grandeur of Assam with items ranging from food and handicrafts to authentic clothing and wooden show pieces. The items that win hearts every year and sees the highest number of sales are the beautifully crafted potteries with exquisite details in carved upon it by the artists. What enchants the tourists during this festival is the huge gathering of traditional and cultural tribes together to hold the pride in their customs and beliefs.
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 colors and celebrations but also insists on observing the necessity for saving the Elephants. The government has also been planning 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 world-wide 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 permit 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.