Bohag Bihu — traditional food and beliefs of Assam

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Nature with all its bounties and mesmerizing beauty is one of the best calendars for the people of Assam to note down the change of seasons. The seasons change, not only waking up the earth from hibernation, but also awakening the soul of the Assamese community that gears itself up to celebrate the advent of Spring. Spring is the season of rejuvenation; spring is the season of giving, and spring is the season of love. And most importantly, spring is the season to celebrate the festival of Bohag or Rongali Bihu, one of the most loved and celebrated festivals of Assam.

Celebrated in the month of April, Bohag Bihu not only showcases the traditional folk performing arts of Assam and the glorious textile traditions and skill of the weavers, but also highlights the importance of ethnic cooking and the benefits associated with it.

During all the days of the festival, women of Assam prepare different delicacies that exude a wide range of aroma, taste and colour. Assamese people, known for their hospitality and affability, leave no stone unturned to cook, eat and serve delicious food to family and the community during the festive occasion. Women take the lead to transform the festival into a voyage of gastronomical exultation.

The traditional Bihu platter that is still rustled up by some women is a sight to behold with delicacies like Malbhog and Bokul Bora Dhanor Chira, Ronga Borar Hurum, Akhoi, Komol Saul, Bhoja Saul, Handoh Guri, Tilpitha, Ghilapitha, Jonbiri Pitha, Hutuli Pitha, Jengpitha, Sanekia Pitha, Tekelimukhor Pitha, Feni Pitha, Khula Soporia Pitha, Saucepan Pitha, Tilor laroo, Loskora, Pokamithoi, Muri laroo, Chirar laroo, Sujir laroo etcetera.

However, with all the transitions sweeping across Assam, the traditional platter too has of late emerged with a pan-Indian flavour. A wide range of sweets and delicacies from different parts of India have made their way into our traditional Bihu platter, and although I prepare many delicacies that belong to other states on the occasion of Bihu, here I have presented a few recipes that are very close to my heart because they are our own, handed down to us by our ancestors.

(Published in Nandini in April 2019)