Magh Bihu is to Assam what Pongal is to Tamil Nadu and what Lohri is to Punjab. One of the most important festivals for Assamese people, Magh Bihu is celebrated to mark the end of harvest season and also the departure of the cold winter season, where people welcome new produce with a week-long celebration.
Also known as Bhogali Bihu, which is derived from the word ‘bhog’, the celebrations involve a lot of food along with singing and dancing.
The eve of the Bhogali Bihu is called the Uruka. On this day, a grand feast is prepared on the night of the first day of the festival. People build makeshift thatched-roof huts, known as ‘bhelaghar’, which serve as community kitchens, and a ‘meji’ (bonfire) is created with hay and bamboo. People spend the night near these mejis by singing songs and performing folk dances. The next morning, people take bath and then the Meji is burnt. It is believed that this burning of the bonfire helps to put an end to the cold season.
For the puja, people throw in pithas (delicacies made with rice) and betel nuts into the flames, thanking the Fire God to mark the end of the harvest season and take back his blessing in form of burnt woods and bamboo.