Bihu is the most important festival for the people of Assam, celebrated in unity irrespective of the caste, creed, religion, faith or belief. It is celebrated not once but three times in a year, the first one being Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu, also the most popular one. Rongali Bihu generally falls in the middle of the month of April and is an Assamese equivalent of Gudi Padwa/Ugadi/Baisakhi and many other names for the beginning of New Year according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar. Rongali Bihu too marks the beginning of Assamese New Year and the coming of spring season. The festivities and feasting carry on for a good few days, on a grand scale. Cow worship, getting cleaned up and wearing new clothes, preparing Pitha Larus (made up of rice and coconut) and Jolpan, cleaning and worshipping of idols of Gods in every household, and folk songs called Bihu geets are all an integral part of Rongali Bihu.
Then in the month of October, generally in the middle of it, comes the second of Bihu festival: Kongali Bihu. Kongali Bihu has a different side to it. A sense of constraint and solemnity prevails and the celebrations are a lot mellower. On this day, people of Assam light up earthen lamps at the foot of the household tulsi plant, the garden, and the paddy fields. A ritual of whirling a piece of bamboo stick in the paddy fields and reciting Rowa Khowa chants is performed on the day. These chants are believed to fend off all pests and an evil eye. In the evening, Pitha made of coconut and rice is prepared and is fed to the cattle. And the practice of lighting of akaxbonti (lamps) at the tip of a tall bamboo pole to show the way to souls of the dead to heaven is also related to the festival of Kongali Bihu.
Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu is the last of the Bihu festivals and falls in the middle of the month of January. It is an Assamese equivalent of Makar Sakranti and Pongal. Derived from the word Bhog, which means eating and enjoyment, Magh Bihu marks the end of the harvesting season, especially that of rice. The festivities include exchanging sweets and greetings, community feasting, sports like buffalo fight, egg fight, cock fight and dance and music. To celebrate the occasion, people erect a hut like structure called Bhelaghar, made of hay and meji. The entire night, called Uruka, is spent around various Bhelaghars in the above mentioned festivities and merrymaking. In the morning, after taking a bath, these huts are burnt and burnt firewood is taken for various purposes. All the three Bihus signify different phases of Assam. The date for each has been given below.
Bihu 2017: Sunday Jan 15
Bhogali Bihu: Jan 15, 2017
Rongali (Bohag) Bihu: April 13-15, 2017
Kongali Bihu: 18-October, 2017