Fairs & Festivals
While Assam, being an inseparable part of this great country, shares all the religious festivals observed elsewhere in India, she also has an exclusive range of festivals which have enriched the cultural mosaic of the land. Bihu is by far the most important festival of Assam. While Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu, coinciding with the Assamese new year is the principal bihu, the harvest festival, known as the Bhogali Bihu or Magh Bihu is also equally important. There is a third bihu called the Kangali Bihu or Kati Bihu, which is solemnly observed to pray for a better crop.
The bihus are popular agriculture-based festivals, and are traced to the remote past. While Rongali Bihu is full of dances and songs and merriment, Bhogali Bihu is a festival of community feasts and bonfire. During the modern times, Rangali Bihu has become a major urban festival, accompanied by competitive performance of folk songs, group dances, playing of drums and so on.
In Kamrup and Darrang districts, Bhatheli or Suari or Deul forms an important adjunct of the spring time bihu festival, and is accompanied by fairs too.
Several tribal communities like the Mishings, Deoris, and Morans also perform bihu in their own distinctive styles, but the inner meaning is the same : with songs being mostly strains woven around themes of love and yearning, sometimes having distinct erotic overtones, with characteristically catchy and earthy tunes.The Bodos, the largest tribal group, perform kherai puja as a festival, which assumes the shape of a fair in most places.The Kherai puja is accompanied by shamanistic dance performed by female artists who get into a trance, other with vigorous movements of the head, tossing and swinging the dishevelled hair. Bathow is another important puja of the Bodos.
The State has a number of important fairs which have been in existence since time immemorial and attract people of all walks of life. The Ambubachi Mela of Kamakhya temple is the most important of them all, and attracts pilgrims from all over India. Observed during June-July for four days, these days are considered the annual period of Mother Earth.
The Shivaratri Mela of Shiva Doul in Sibsagar is another major fair which has been observed since the Ahom days.
The Jon Beel Mela of Jagiroad, held in January , soon after the harvest season, on the other hand is unique in the sense that no currency notes or any other form of money is in use there. The people who come from distant hills too, exchange their wares through barter, This fair draws a lot of foreign tourists too.