Joy of Dancing: Bihu from Assam

picture credits: here.

The Rongali Bihu is the festival of the Assamese New Year which falls in mid-April. It also marks the arrival of Assamese New Year(around April 15). Through this festival, which stretches for several days, the Assamese people welcome the season of seed sowing and pray for a great harvest. During the festival Bihu dance is performed by both young men and young women. The dance is performed accompanied by Bihu folk music based on love theme which are generally dominated by men, though there are songs that are sung by women as well, Bihu dance is characterized by quick dance movements, swift hand steps and rhythmic swaying of the hips.The dance is performed on folk songs known as Bihu Songs. Pepa a flute made of buffalo horns), dhol (a drum), tala (a cymbal), gogona (a bamboo instrument) and toka (a bamboo clapper) are the instruments used in these songs. Different tribes have made slight variation in the dance and have named it after their tribe like Garo Bihu Dance, and Khasi Bihu Dance.
The movements of the Bihu dance draw from many traditions - Indo-Aryan, Austro-Asiatic and Sino-Burmese.
File:Bihu dance with japi.jpg
 picture credit: here.

In the picture above girls are dancing with colourful straw hats called jaapi. Jaapi (Assamese: জাপি) is a traditional Assamese headgear or hat of Assam, India. Jaapi is made of tightly woven bamboo and/or cane and tokou paat (Trachycarpus martianus) a large palm leaf. Simpler hats are worn by the farmers for protection from the sun.

 Gaamkharu is a traditional Assamese ornament used by female bihu dancers made of Silver.

The costume of the male dancers is called dhoti and gamocha. Women wear Chadar Mekhale, two pieces of fabric draped around the body. Usually it is made of one of the very appreciated Assamese silks or of cotton with woven geometrical patterns. Read an amazing article on the silk production in Sualkuchi here.

picture credit: here.

sources: here, here and here.

Pictures by Edgar Nolte.
I have tried to learn this dance, above you can se some snaps from a performance.

View some beautiful bihu songs and dance videos:


1 comment:

  1. "is this the only piece of heritage that you can show off to the world? Seriously there are better things to latch onto :)

    tanSEN was bengali my dear friend, so were a lot of other people! want to see the entire list as it stands today? so was subash chandra bose and sri aurobindo :)

    and i can name a million others and i am proud to say our greateness can be exerted beyond our national borders.

    we bengalis have won pretty much every award in the world stage

    you name it we have it and we are damn proud of what we have :) "

    MBA, IMT Ghaziabad
    Bengaluru, Karnataka, India



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