Magh Bihu 2024: Date, Time, Importance And Food Of The Festival

Celebrated in Assam and other parts of North-East India, Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu is a harvest festival in which people gather around a bonfire, also referred to as Meji by locals, to conclude the rituals and pray to the god of fire. With gusto, devotees celebrate the winter harvest and get ready for the spring season. 

Magh Bihu is another name for Makar Sankranti, which is celebrated across the country by different names. This year, Magh Bihu will be celebrated on January 15, 2024. It is the first festival of the year that brings communities and people of various ethnicities together to enjoy the winter crops and pray for prosperity for the rest of the year. 

Magh Bihu 2024 Date And Time

The celebrations of Magh Bihu in 2024 will begin on January 14 and conclude on January 15. The date always coincides with the winter solstice when the position of the Earth around the Sun becomes such that the days start getting longer and nights become shorter. It marks the welcome of the spring season when everything in nature blossoms.

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The festivities kick off on Bihu eve, which is considered the first day of celebrations. It is also called Uruka, derived from the Tibeto-Burman Deori-Chutia word Urukuwa, which means ‘to end’. According to the Hindu calendar, the festival falls in the 10th month, also referred to as the Pausha month. 

On the night of the second day, called Bhuj, the feast is organised to celebrate the good harvest that is going to bring prosperity into the houses of farmers. People dress up, cook traditional dishes, and participate in cultural celebrations.

Magh Bihu Significance

Magh Bihu marks the end of the winter season and the onset of the spring. Bihu, derived from ‘Bishu’, means ‘to seek peace’ and indulge in community-building festivities that include sharing meals. Thus, this festival has a social as well as agricultural significance that celebrates bountiful harvests and the importance of people coming together as one unit to participate in the happiness of their peers and loved ones.

Young and adolescents, irrespective of their genders, come together to participate in festivities, one of which includes stealing vegetables from the backyards of other villagers. These stolen items are then used to prepare a meal. It’s a tradition that natives have been following for years. Devotees also visit temples and religious centres to thank the Almighty for the current harvest and pray that their farms continue to flourish throughout the year. 

Magh Bihu Traditional Dishes

No Indian festival is complete without the preparation of traditional dishes associated with the rituals. Here are some of the traditional dishes prepared during the celebration of Magh Bihu,

Amitar Khar: Sun-dried banana peel ash is used to prepare alkaline water, which is called Amitar Khar. It is supposed to flush out the toxins from the body and improve the digestive system. Apart from bananas, people also add a variety of vegetables in the process to improve their nutritional value and flavours.

Joha Saulor Payox: Every variation of Makar Sankranti has a version of rice pudding that is offered to Gods. Assamese make Joha Saulor Payox in which jaggery or sugar adds the sweet flavour while short rice grains are cooked in milk. 

Narikol Laru: Made using freshly grated coconut, Narikol Laru is known for its richness and sweet flavours. The gooey texture and a mix of fragrant spices like cinnamon and dry fruits enhance its nutritional quotient and add a crunchy taste. 

Other traditional dishes made during the celebration of Magh Bihu include Til Pitha, Doi Seera, Jolpai chutney, Apong, Sagolir Mankho, and Ghila Pitha.