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Julie Kagti

Bwisagu – a new year celebration of the Bodo tribe.

Celebrating a new year in a Bodo home
A photo essay by Alongbar Basumatary taken on the 14th of April 2021 at  his village near the town of Bongaigaon in west Assam.

Assam as most states in India is primarily an agrarian society. Celebrations are based on harvests, planting of paddy and the lunar calendar. Most associate it with the dance, bonfire and sound of the dhool as celebrated by the mainstream Assamese. But the festival is much older.

Bihu comes from the Bodo language and  is linked to  Bwisagu which means the first day or  start of the year of Bohaag Dhan (a type of rice).The last day of the sixth month from when the paddy was first planted is considered  as the end of the year.

The tribesmen celebrate this day by giving the  cattle an oil bath and then taking them to the river for bathing. They are garlanded and given a special meal consisting of pounded rice and vegetables. It is their way of thanking the animals for the support given . This day is also  called Mwsouw Bwisagu. Ghoru bihu in Assamese.

“The breakfast is special on this day. We drink only red tea known as lal sa. This is symbolic in giving the cattle a day off from milking, working in the fields or carrying load. It is their day of rest. We eat sticky rice along with country chicken and a dry snack made with lentils.”says Alongbar, a student studying in Bongaigon town and a talented photographer.

“Another feature of Ghoru Bihu is women go into the forest in search of 101 jungle herbs which is used to make a dish eaten by the tribesmen on this particular day. It is believed that this dish provides strength, vitality and good health for the whole year ahead”

Alongbar Basumatary is on instagram: @soul_of_green

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