Guwahati: Festivals are an integral part of cultures across the world. Recently, the north-eastern state of Assam celebrated one of its most significant festivals 'Rongali Bihu'.
This festival marks the beginning of Assamese New Year and the end of the harvesting season.
'Rongali' or 'Bohag Bihu' festival is one of the most important and biggest festivals in the landlocked state of Assam.
'Bihuwan' (the traditional Assamese towel known as Gamocha) is exchanged as a mark of respect.
The week-long festival, which also marks the end of the harvesting season, brings people together irrespective of caste, creed or religion as festive fervour grips the state.
In Guwahati, the people dressed in traditional attires were seen enjoying the festival with much enthusiasm.
Wearing the vibrant Assamese Chador, the folk artists mesmerized the audience with their performances.
"I am feeling really good. It's a great experience. The Bihu festival is celebrated by people of all faiths. The festival binds the society in one string," said actor Ashish Vidyarthi.
The people in Jorhat on the first day of the festival called 'Goru Bihu' took their cattle to ponds and rivers early in the morning and bathed them after rubbing a traditional paste called 'dighalati pat' on their bodies. 'Dighalati pat' has medicinal properties and helps keep ticks and other pests away from the cattle.
Cattle owners recite traditional hymns while praying for the good health of their animals.
Dishes like pitha (ricecake), tilor laru (sesame balls), narikol laru (grated coconut balls), curd, handoh (a dish of jaggery and grains), tel pitha (fried cake), til pitha (sesame cake) are prepared in every household as savoring traditional food is a major part of Bihu festivities.
"It's 'Goru Bihu', 'Bihu' for the cows because 'Bihu' is indeed associated with agriculture and for agriculture, since ancient times, cow is very important. And that is how it started. And you can see so many people irrespective of caste, creed, they (are) assembling here and with the hope of Happy Assamese Year. And we hope, this spring season, this Assamese New Year will bring lots of happiness, peace and prosperity to the Assamese people," said Aurobindo Saikia, a local resident.
Bihu is celebrated thrice in a year in Assam -- 'Rongali Bihu' in mid-April, 'Kongali Bihu' in mid-October and 'Magh Bihu' in mid-January.
The three Bihus mark the three stages of cultivation, i.e. beginning of agricultural season, completion of sowing and the end of harvest season.
'Rongali Bihu' is the most joyous of the three as it symbolizes a fresh start in life.