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A time to fish and feast

Sushanta Talukdar

Assam celebrates Magh Bihu, the biggest harvest festival

Guwahati: Mouth-watering traditional Bihu delicacies brought by women entrepreneurs from upper and lower Assam sold like hotcakes in the city markets as the State began celebrating Magh Bihu, the biggest post-harvest festival, from Friday.

While the city folk made a beeline for the markets to buy different varieties of fish, people in rural areas took part in community fishing in beels and ponds. Fish forms an essential part of the grand community feast on the occasion of Uruka, observed on the eve of Magh Bihu.

Mejis — tall structures made of bamboo and thatch — were seen in the paddy fields. They were burnt on Saturday morning, the first day of the Magh month of Assamese calendar. The half-burnt bamboo sticks and ash are strewn in the paddy fields to increase the fertility of the soil.

Community feast

Bhela ghar, a temporary structure made of bamboo, thatch and dried banana leaves, was also put up for the community feast and bonfire on Uruka night.

In `NEDFi haat' in the city, Bihu delicacies that vanished from the shelves within hours included varieties of pitha (rice cake), chira (rice flakes) curd in bamboo tubes, cream, chunga pitha (rice cake in bamboo tubes), and different types of ladoos. Gift baskets of bihu delicacies were also a hit.

Six entrepreneurs took part in the four-day pre-Magh Bihu fair that showcased traditional Bihu cuisine. The fish market at Uzan Bazar on the banks of the Brahmaputra attracted the most customers.

Of the three Bihus celebreated in Assam — Rongali Bihu, Magh Bihu and Kati Bihu — Magh Bihu (also called Bhogali Bihu) is considered the festival of feast.

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