On October 18th, the Assamese people celebrate Kati Bihu—a festival that marks the beginning of the harvest season. This holiday is a strict observance of penance and service, celebrated throughout the state of Assam with special rituals. Lamps are lit near the houses and a bamboo path is laid for the ancestors.
Kati Bihu is one of the three most important holidays for the Assamese people, alongside Bhogali Bihu and Rongali Bihu. This tradition of lighting lamps among the rice fields dates back to ancient rituals, as it was believed that the fire and light attracted insects, providing a natural insecticide. Participation in this holiday transcends religion, social status, and caste, as people from all walks of life come together to participate in the tradition.
- Assamese families serve meat dishes on the occasion of the holiday—duck in the north and pigeon in the south.
- Assamese give each of their guests a “gamos” — a traditional hand-made towel.
- Clay lamps (“Saaks”) are lit around the sacred plant Tulsi, emphasizing its significance in each family.
- The celebration usually ends with a bihu dance that demonstrates the unity of the communities.
How to take part
On the day of the celebration, a traditional Assamese clay lamp should be lit and placed on the Tulsi plant. Prayers should be offered to the goddess Tulsi, asking for a good harvest and the well-being of the family. The lamp symbolizes an unquenchable flame of hope and must be lit for the entire month of the celebration. Additionally, people can try to learn the traditional bihu dance, which is an essential part of Assam’s culture.
When is Kati Bihu celebrated in 2023?
Kati Bihu is celebrated on the first day of the ‘Kati’ month in the Assamese calendar.