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The Bihu Dance of Assam being performed at the premises of the Rang Ghar ~ Sivasagar ~ Assam ~ India

Assam is a land of festivals! Across the year many festivals are celebrated across the State by the many indigenous communities inhabiting the State. The people of Assam are fun loving as and they are, various communities of Assam have numerous fairs and festivals during different times of the year. But the most enticing fact is that every festival is participated in and equally enjoyed by all the people of Assam, irrespective of their caste and religion. Most of the festivals celebrated in Assam have their roots in the diverse faith and belief of the inhabitants, but a spirit of accomodation and togetherness characterizes the celebration of all festivals. The perfect fusion of heritage of numerous races has made Assam, the home of the most colorful festivals which are passionate, compelling and mesmerizing reflecting the true spirit, tradition and lifestyle of the people of Assam. Each and every festival is celebrated with equal passion and fervor, thus reflecting the lifestyle and tradition of the people of Assam.

Some of the prominent Festivals celebrated across Assam are ~

1| Bihu – Harvest of Happiness 

Rongali Bihu (April)|Kongali Bihu (October)| Bhogali Bihu (January)

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Young girls perform the Bihu dance on the occasion of Rongali Bihu ~ Guwahati ~ Assam ~ India

The biggest festival of this fertile land and the most popular Assamese festival in India – Bihu’s uniqueness lies in the fact that it comes thrice a year – twice as massive celebrations and once just as a quite observance – every year (details already given above). When you are here during Rongali or Bohag Bihu, just try to listen to what they sing when they dance to the irresistible rhythm of the dhol, taal, pepa, tojka, gogona and sutuli; they sing of love – love of nature, of the rivers, trees, flowers, birds, sky and rains, as also of love between individuals; and then, over the decades, Bihu songs have also documented socio-cultural, political and economic changes. Also see how they revere and worship the cattle on Goru-Bihu, the last day of the year when Rongali Bihu actually begins; cattle are taken to the nearby river, rubbed with paste of mustard oil, raw turmeric and mati-mah, bathed amid ritual songs that speak of better health of the animals, fed with chaat – pieces of gourd, brinjal and bitter gourd – early morning and then with freshly woven ropes after the cowshed is specially cleaned with a paste of mud and cow dung and densely fogged by burning hay. Greeting others with a home-woven gamosa is the tradition.

The Bhogali Bihu, which is the harvest festival, on the other hand is about feasting. Taste the various kinds of pithas made of rice-powder, gur, sesame and coconut powder – baked, fried or specially baked in a chunga – a piece of stuffed bamboo pipe heated in fire. A jalpaan comprising of chira, akhoi, hurum, sandoh, pitha-guri (all made of rice), doi, gur and a sonda-kol (a local banana variety) is just not irresistible but also unforgettable. The uruka feast in a bhela-ghar made of bamboo and hay in the post-harvest paddy field on the eve of the Bihu on the other hand comprises of various recipes of different fish species served with newly-harvested rice.

Kati Bihu or Kangali Bihu – observed on the first day of Kati, the seventh month of the Assamese calendar – doesn’t involve any celebration. Marked to pray for a good harvest with a pest-free crop,people lighten earthen lamps in the paddy fields and under a newly-planted basil plant at home, while some satras and homes also light an akash banti – a lamp placed inside a decorated earthen urn or paper balloon and suspended up in the air with bamboo poles. The akash banti ritual at Auniati Satra in majuli attracts a large number of tourists.

2| Ambubachi Mela – the Celebration of Womanhood

Maa Kamakhya Temple – June

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Tantric Sadhus gather to celebrate the Ambubachi Mela at Kamakhya Temple ~ Guwahati ~ Assam ~ India

The whole of Assam stops and takes part in the celebration when the Ambubachi Mela is held at the Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati. This fair is the celebration of the yearly menstrual course of Mother Earth, here also symbolized as Mother Goddess Kamakhya. Devotees believe that during this time the fertile energy of Mother Universe is awakened and blesses all seekers with creative verve. As the monsoon rains unleash the creative and nurturing power of Mother Earth, it becomes available to the devotees during the period of Ambubachi.

Millions of tantric worshippers, sages, sadhus and foreigners from different corners of the World participate in this festival. The temple remains closed for three days during the mela and people practice many kinds of restrictions during this period.

There is no idol of the presiding deity and Goddess Kamakhya is worshipped in the form of a yoni-like shaped rock over which flows a natural spring inside the sanctum of the temple which itself is a cave. The fair is unique in the sense that people can witness the cult of tantric practices, as some sages display their psychic power during the festival. They appear in public only fr this meal and remain in seclusion for the rest of the year.

The fair is organized in the Assamese month of Ahaar during the monsoon season when the sun transits to the zodiac of Mithuna. THis generally falls around the middle of June as per the Gregorian calendar.

Trivia: The prasad distributed after the temple doors are thrown open are Angodak and Angabastra. Angodak means the red fluid of the body – which refers to the water from the spring and the Angabstra means the cloth covering the body – a piece of red cloth used to cover the stone (yoni) during the days of menstruation which is distributed in tiny bits to every devotee.

How to reach Kamakhya Temple: The Kamakhya Temple is located atop the Nilachal Hills at a height of approximately 280 meters above sea level in the heart of Guwahati city. While Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport is the nearest airport 16 km away, those arriving by trains alight either at Kamakhya Station or at the Guwahati Station.

By Road: Till a few years back the only way to reach the Kamakhya Temple from the main road below the Nilachal Hill was to climb a unique flight of stairs up the steep hill, constructed by king Narakasura in the mythological era. Now a 3 km winding motorable road takes the devotees up to the temple from the city’s main road. Regular city buses and taxi ply to and from the city to the Temple.

3| Jonbeel Mela – the Festival of Barter Trade

Morigaon District – January/February

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A tribal lady selling ethnic handlooms at the Jonbeel Mela Festival ~ Jagiroad ~ Assam ~ India

“Thou shall not pay you money for the goods I buy from you.” This statement is sure to scare the living daylights out of any person in the business of trading. But there is congregation of villagers in Assam’s Morigaon district who agree to the above statement.

Confused?! Well, this is the Jonbeel Mela – an annual festivity/occasion where a huge bazaar or ‘Mela’ is held. Tribes like Karbi, Khasi, Tiwa and Jaintia come down from the hills with their products and interchange their merchandise with the local people in a barter system. It is perhaps the only fair in India where barter system still exists at least for these three days.

Jonbeel Mela is a three-day community fair held the weekend of Magh Bihu at a historic place known as Dayang Belguri at Joonbeel. It is 5 km from Jagiroad in Morigaon district of Assam and 32 km from Guwahati. The Jonbeel (Joon and Beel are Assamese terms for the Moon and a wetland respectively) is so called because a large natural water body is shaped like a crescent moon.

This festival demonstrates the age old barter system in a very interesting way. The event starts off with Agni Puja where the locals pay homage to the ‘God of Fire’. After the puja, the locals get together to fish in the wetland which is called JonBeel. The visitors to the mela and the participating tribes engage in freewheeling exchange of commodities. Typically you will find families from the hills bringing in herbs, spices and exotic fruits which are found only in those places and then exchanging them with rice, fish preparations and pitha sweets as the latter cannot be found in the hills. The 3 day mela sees participation of over 1000 Tribes. It is a splendid example of communal harmony as all of them eat and laugh together ultimately behaving like a large and happy family.

If you visit Assam during January then don’t miss out on the Jonbeel Mela. If you are lucky you will get to see the cockfights, Assamese traditional dances and Fish exhibitions that are held during this time. This festival is a glorious representation of the age old barter system prevalent among the ancient tribes.

The Jonbeel is derived from the Assamese word Jon meaning Moon and Beel meaning wetland. The festival is so called because of its venue, which is a large natural water body in the shape of a crescent moon. The high point of the fair is the ancient barter tradition which is still prevalent here. This charming fact attracts people from different parts of India, who participated in the fair to see local rituals and cultural performances.

As per history, King Gobha Raja of the Tiwa tribe held political parleys with the Ahom King and other hill chiefs near the Jonbeel in the 15th century; Fairs were held during the meet and people from every kingdom embraced each other and bartered their goods.

Few days before the Mela, people of various communities like Tiwa, Karbi, Khasi and Jaintia come down from hills with their various products. These people exchange their products with the local people through the barter system.

Before the Mela they perform ‘Agni Puja’ or fire worship for the well-being of mankind. The fair stands apart because of its theme of Unity in Diversity. While some 10,000 tribal people descend at Jonbeel Mela during these three days, city-dwellers and tourists too flock here. They however have to buy thins paying in cash.

Hardly 45 kms east of Guwahati, this Mela is also marked with traditional dances and music, while sale of various ethnic food adds up to the festive mood. Jonbeel Mela is host to one of the most spectacular and popular fairs in Assam featuring cock fight, fish bazaar and handicraft markets.

Trivia: Gobha Raja or King of Tiwa tribal community, along with his courtiers, still visit the Mela and collect taxes from the subjects, which they happily pay.

How to reach to be a part of Jonbeel Mela: Jonbeel Mela is held 5 km north of Jagiroad, an industrial town that is about 40 km east of Guwahati. The best way to reach is to hire a car or catch a bus from Guwahati. One can also take a train from Guwahati to Jagiroad and then ride a rickshaw or just hitch-hike. Nearest Airport is the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Guwahati.

4| Raas Leela Festival – the Life of Lord Krishna depicted in an Art form

Majuli Island – November

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Welcome to the annual Raas Leela Festival at Majuli Island ~ Majuli ~ Assam ~ India

A natural heritage that already mesmerizes tourists from all over the world, turns into a fairyland during this festival. It is a three day event around Raas purnima, which generally falls in the second or third week of November, with celebrations centering around the fun, frolic and other activities of Lord Krishna. All 22 Vaishnavite Satras in the heritage island stages special performances of Bhawona, a traditional theatre form pioneered by the 16th century saint reformer Srimanta Shankardeva, while several public Bhawona performances are also held elsewhere in Majuli during those three days. Thousands of people flock to Majuli Island to be a part of the Raas Festival.

Visitors also relish in various delicacies put out by people of Majuli Island, while one can also buy various handloom and handicraft products, both tribal and non-tribal. While crossing the Brahmaputra by large boats to get to Majuli Island is an adventure of sorts, one also gets to see a large variety of migratory and resident birds all over Majuli.

It is also best time to visit the different Satras of Majuli Island. While the Raas Leela performances are held in the evenings, daytime can be spent watching young monks – Bhakats – displaying mati akhara and other traditional acrobatics to the rhythm of khol and bhor-taal that are taught to them by the Satra Gurus. Some Satras have also specialized in mask making, and masks of Krishna, Ravana and various other mythological characters of Samaguri and other Satras have found place in museums across the globe.

How to reach Majuli: The nearest city to Majuli is Jorhat which is well connected by air to rest of India. From Jorhat large boats regularly ferry people across the river from Nimatighat to three different ghats in the Island. You can also hire a taxi, either from Jorhat or in Majuli. The ferry boats also transport cars across the river. One can drive to Jorhat from Guwahati, a 300 km distance or catch the Janshatabdi Express.

5| Kaziranga Elephant Festival – 11th to 17th February

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The Annual Elephant Festival at Kaziranga National Park ~ Kaziranga ~ Assam ~ India. Image – nelive.in

View of rows after rows immaculately decorated elephants moving gracefully, playing games or taking part in races. Awesome, isn’t it?! Organized by Assam Tourism, Kaziranga Elephant Festival is one of the largest elephant festivals in India, which attracts a huge number of tourists from all over the World. Hundreds of domestic Asiatic Elephants, decorated from head to toe, participate in the program. They take part in the parade, races, football and dance leaving the visitors in awe.

The reason for celebrating this festival makes it more interesting. The purpose of the festival is to create awareness about the conservation and safeguarding of the Asiatic Elephants. Thousands of nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers flock to Kaziranga National Park to be a part of this amazing festival and contribute to the purpose of conservation. Witness the festive spirit of these mighty creatures and you will come again and again!

How to reach Kaziranga: Tell us 🙂 And we will arrange your planned tour to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park.

6| Assam Tea Festival 

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The Lush Tea Gardens of Assam at the Annual Assam Tea Festival ~ Kaziranga ~ Assam ~ India

The tea capital of the World must celebrate its pride and what could be better way than dedicating a whole festival to it. Assam Tea Festival – a festival to refresh to soul!

Organized by Assam Tourism in Jorhat, this unique celebration encapsulates tea-tasting, music and merriment. What’s more you can also enjoy some golfing at Jorhat Gymkhana Club – said to be the World’s third oldest golf course. It also gives you an opportunity of mixing business with pleasure.

Conferences are also held addressing the Tea industry issues and people from all over the World join the celebration. The celebration features tea-tours, tea-garden visits and savoring different flavors and aromas of Tea. Come, visit the land during this festival and enjoy a cup full of joy!

7| Karbi Festival 

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The Annual Youth Karbi Festival at Karbi Anglong ~ Diphu ~ Assam ~ India

The Karbi tribe who inhabit the Karbi Anglong district, observe several festivals, among which Rangker and Hacha are the most important. While Rangker is a socio-religious festival, Hacha is a purely social festival.

Rangker is celebrated in the beginning of the New Year by invoking different Gods and Goddesses for the well being of the entire village. The rituals performed by elderly male members who chant prayers and seek blessings for keeping the people free from diseases and natural calamities and for a good harvest. Women however are not allowed to enter the worship area. Hacha on the other hand is a traditional festival which comprises of music, dance, singing, feasting and making merry.

8| Doul Utsav – the Festival of Colors

Barpeta Satra – March

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The Barpeta Satra the plays host to the Doul Utsav every year ~ Barpeta ~ Assam ~ India

Holi is a festival which is celebrated and loved by almost everyone. In Assam, celebrating Holi has been a major activity for the people of the Vaishnavite faith. The Satras – Vaishnavite Monasteries – have their own individual traditions of celebrating Hoil, but none of them can come close to the massive celebrations that take place at the Barpeta Satra.

The Barpeta Satra, located in the heart of Barpeta town is over 500 years old and was established by Madhavadeva, the principal disciple of Srimanta Shankardeva. Holi here is a three day festival and is called as the Doul Utsav, which is marked with music, dance and theatrical performances apart from the people greeting each other with faku or colored powder of various hues. Held in March, the Doul Utsav of Barpeta Satra attracts thousands of people from all over.

The most important aspect of Doul Utsav in Barpeta Satra is the singing of Holi songs. Sung to the rhythm of Khol, cymbals and other traditional musical instruments, these orally composed songs sing the glory of Lord Krishna in relation to the festival of colors.

On the eve of the festival, Holi Gandha is celebrated by thousands of devotees coming from various different places of Assam and outside. In the courtyard in front of the math, the idol of Lord Krishna is worshipped by the permanent priests of the Barpeta Satra. After worshipping is over, priests bring the idol to a specified Doul. The idol stays there for three days. Though most other Satras across Assam organize Doul Utsav – also called as the Doul Jatra – the festival at the Barpeta Satra is the most important and worth seeing.

Barpeta also has a traditional fireworks manufacturing cottage industry and display of indigenous fireworks in the evenings during the Doul Utsav is yet another attraction.

How to reach Barpeta: Barpeta is about 140 km from Guwahati by road. One can fly to Guwahati and then hire a taxi or catch a bus. Alternately, those coming by train can alight at the Barpeta Road Railway station or New Bongaigaon.

9| Brahmaputra Festival – a Tribute to the Mighty Brahmaputra

Guwahati – January

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Cultural Events being organized at the Brahmaputra Festival ~ Guwahati ~ Assam ~ India

The onset of spring season in January sends a note of excitement and thrills throughout Assam. Everyone is in the mood for adventure. The reason behind this is a unique festival, the Brahmaputra Festival, which is held every year at this time. Coinciding with the harvest festival of Assam (Magh Bihu), the Brahmaputra festival is held on the sandy beaches of the vast Brahmaputra river. The colorful scenes and sights of the festival leave the onlookers in a state of elation. This is indeed the best time to explore the mesmerizing scenery of this tropical paradise.

Every year, the Assam Boat Racing and Rowing Association (ABRRA) and the Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) organize this fest with the aim of promoting the tourism department of the State as well as exhibiting its traditional sports and culture. Cultural programs are held as a part of the celebrations and various stalls are organized here and there, displaying the craftsmanship of the local artists and artisans. The local arts and crafts displayed at these stalls are usually purchased as souvenirs by tourists to take back home.

The major attraction of the Brahmaputra festival is the adventure sports that are undertaken here. A large number of contests are held as a part of the festival and people take part in activities like brach cricket, beach volleyball, rafting , canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing and kite flying. Besides this, there are other fun filled activities like Elephant races, cock fighting and egg breaking as well. A range of aero-sports like ballooning, paragliding and hang gliding are also held leaving the onlookers spell bound and craving for more.

10| Ali-Ai-Ligang – A Spring Dance Festival

Majuli Island – February

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Mishing People celebrate the Ali-Ai-Ligang Festival ~ Majuli ~ Assam ~ India

The Ali-Ai-Ligang Festival is the most vibrant festival of the Mishing tribal community who are spread across Majuli Island, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh and Sibsagar districts of Assam. Observed on the first Wednesday of the Ginmur Polo – month of Phagun; End of February – Early March – Ali-Ai-Ligang is a spring dance festival that marks the sowing of seeds. In Mishing language, Ali means root, Ai or Yai means fruit and Ligang means to sow.

While dancing and singing is the characteristic feature of this festival, the whole atmosphere is surcharged with the music of the dum-dum (drum), pempa, siphung (both flutes) and gunggang. Girls wear the best traditional ribi-gaseng and ribi-yege attires and poro apong – traditional rice beer and driesh fish add to the culinary satisfaction. The five day long festival ends with a community feast.

The most notable aspect of this festival is that certain activities are forbidden during these five days including tree felling, catching fish, burning of jungles, eating vegetables cooked in oil to name a few.

The traditional Mishing people of Assam are mostly farmers by profession and to thank the Almighty for a seasoned crop every year they celebrate the festival of ‘Ali Ai Ligang’ in February at Majuli in Assam.

The name of the festival ‘Ali Ai Ligang’ is made up of three terms, ‘Ali’, legumes, ‘Aye’, seed and ‘Ligang’, to sow summing up to add to each and every aspect of the practice of farming. The majorly cultivated crops by the Mishings are Paddy, Potatoes, Chilies, Sweet Gourd, Bitter Gourd, Brinjal, Sunflower, etc.

The festival begins on ‘Ligange lange’, the first Wednesday of ‘Gimur Polo’, which occurs in February in the Gregorian calendar or on Wednesday of the month of Fagun of the Assamese calendar and in the month of February in English calendar which lasts for five days. On the first day, the head of every household in the early mornings leave offerings to the Gods in the form of fruits at certain places in their fields. Every Mishing household organizes for a huge feast in the evening. The major attractions of this feast are locally brewed wine ‘Apong’, dishes cooked from fishes and pork and a special rice that cooked by wrapping it around leaves of the a special plant. Each household also make a separate offerings to their ancestors to seek their blessings. In the evenings the Mishing youth travel across the village and indulge in the household feasting.

In this festival a popular dance is performed by the young Mising people which is known as ‘Gumrag’. The formal dance of the festival starts from the easternmost house of the village and in the end it extending towards the field and the river. This dance is performed by encircling the courtyard of the house of the villagers. The songs of Ali-Aye-Ligang do not remain restricted to the songs of youth alone. The subjects and themes of the songs are varied. They include the life of a man, his sufferings in this life and his death. Apart from them, the songs describe the matters of individual love and affection including joy and pain. Mainly the songs of the festival speak of the various experiences of the Misings in their day to day life. The Music composed for these festivals consists of instruments like the drums, sifung (flutes), cymbal, gong and gungang (gagana).

The last day of festival called as ‘Lilen’ is observed with a grand community feast. During this festival, Mishings indulge in great banquet with the ‘Poro Apong’ or ‘Nogin Apong’ (homemade Rice wine) with various dishes, especially made with pork meat. ‘Purang Apin’ (packed boiled rice) is cooked in water with special leaves. This is a special dish prepared by Misings which is cooked only during Ali Aye Ligang.

11| Dehing Patkai Festival – January

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The varied colors of the ethnic tribes at the Dehing Patkai Festival ~ Lekhapani ~ Assam ~ India

The Dehing Patkai Festival is named after the majestic Patkai Mountain range and the mischievous Dehing River. It is an invigorating blend of tribal affairs, tea heritage tours, golfing, adventure sports and wildlife pleasure trip held near Lekhapani and Jagun, the last two townships of eastern Assam. Another interesting fact about the Dehing Patkai Festival is that it offers a trip to two 2nd World War Cemeteries nearby – one in Digboi and the other in Jairampur which speak of the history of the past. One can also drive up 45 km on the 2nd World War heritage Stilwell Road up to Pangsau Pass on the Indo-Myanmar border in Arunachal Pradesh and then walk a couple of kilometers into Myanmar territory by just making an entry at the International Gate.

Visitors to the Dehing Patkai festival not only enjoy the food festival,crafts fair and cultural functions but also take part in some adventure sports which include angling, kayaking and parasailing. Trips to tea gardens, the world’s oldest oil well and refinery at Digboi and he rainforest nearby are added attractions.

The Dehing Patkai Festival is celebrated in the state of Assam on North East India. The festival is named after the majestic Dehing Patkai Range and the mischievous Dehing River. This festival in Assam is an invigorating blend of tribal fairs, tea heritage tours, golfing, adventure sports and wildlife pleasure trip. The Festival is hosted every year during the month of January-February.

Another interesting fact about the festival is that it offers a trip to the Second World War cemeteries which speaks of the history of past. The festival also arranges for a trip to the Stilwell Road, which was once the passage to the golden land of Myanmar. Because of the motleyed history and captivating beauty, the Government of Assam was prompted to organize this festival at a location of Lekhapani, in Tinsukia district, an eastern district in Upper Assam.

The festival provides the tourists with boundless chances of fun and feast. The festival makes arrangements for Food Festival, Craft Fair and Cultural functions for the visitors. It also offers a wide range of adventure sports on the dotted islands. These adventures include parasailing, angling, kayaking and other water sports on teh river Brahmaputra. The live group of people who visit the festival also engage in the game of golf. The tourists are also taken on an excursion to experience the wildlife of the state of Assam.

Main events/highlights of the Dehing Patkai Festival are:

  • Cultural events spread throughout the festival highlighting traditional dances, music, indigenous games

  • Trip to Stilwell Road and War cemeteries

  • Bhut Jolokia Eating Contest

  • Dehing Patkai Adventure Rally

  • Adventure Sports on River Brahmaputra

  • Teeing at Golf courses

How to reach to be a part of Dehing Patkai Festival: While Dibrugarh is the nearest Airport to the Dehing Patkai Festival, one can hire a taxi or a catch a bus to Lekhapani from the Airport. Those travelling by train can go up to Tinsukia by Rajdhani express and other major trains from Delhi or eve up to Ledo from Guwahati by the overnight Inter-City Express.

12| Ma Dam Me Phi Festival – January 

Me-dam-me-phi is celebrated by the Ahom people on 31 January every year in memory of the departed. It is the manifestation of the concept of ancestor worship that the Ahoms share with other peoples originating from the Tai-Shan stock. It is a festival to show respect to the departed ancestors and remember their contribution to society.

When Me-Dam-Me-Phi is observed publicly worship is offered in the name of three gods and they are Me Dam Me Phi, Dam Changphi and Grihadam. God Dam Chao Phi is associated with the belief of some natural powers like creation and destruction, water, lightning and storm, sun, moon, learning, diseases, earth, etc. Worship is done by Ahom priests Deodhai and Bailung by chanting Tai mantras and following the codes (Bidhan) given in the puthis (books) like Phralung and Banfi, etc. God Dam Chang Phi is the ancestor God from sixth to fourteenth generation of a family. Grihadam is also the ancestor God up to fourth generation of a family. Worship to Grihadam is offered in the month of Kati at the time of harvesting new Ahu rice, in the month of Aghon at the time of harvesting new Sali Dhan and at the time of three Bihus.

On the day of Me-Dam Me Phi worship is offered only to Chaufi and Dam Chaufi because they are regarded as gods of heaven. Changphi and Grihadam are not worshipped on that day because they are regarded as earthly gods.

The Ahoms believe that a man after his death remains as ‘Dam’(ancestor) only for a few days and soon he becomes ‘Phi’ (God). They also believe that the soul of a man which is immortal unites with the supreme soul, possesses the qualities of a spiritual being and always blesses the family. So every Ahom family in order to worship the dead establish a pillar on the opposite side of the kitchen (Barghar) which is called ‘Damkhuta’ where they worship the dead with various offerings like homemade wine, mah-prasad, rice with various items of meat and fish.

When: The month of January every year

13| Namami Brahmaputra Festival – March

The River Brahmaputra is the lifeline of the State of Assam just as Nile is to Egypt. The Brahmaputra is among the largest rivers on planet Earth in terms of discharge and sediments. It’s the only river in the Indian Subcontinent with a male name, as it means “son of Brahma” in Sanskrit (putra means “son”). Originating in the Angsi glacier in Tibet, the river flows through Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and finally Bangladesh where it merges with river Ganga and flows into the Bay of Bengal.

The Brahmaputra is the life line of Assam, nurturing its topography, culture, socio-cultural life and sustaining major urban centers. It has also been at the center of Assam’s folklore inspiring literature, music and art. But one feels the might of this river during the monsoons (July to September) when the river floods and leaves behind a wave of destruction rendering people homeless.

In addition to being the lifeline of Assam, the Brahmaputra also serves as a major tourist attraction for the region. The river is used for ferrying tourists and passengers to many historical sites and temples which are not accessible by road. There are many river cruises that ply on this river. From restaurants to discotheques there cruises makes you feel an experience of a lifetime. Luxury cruise liners like the “MV MAHABAAHU” operates between Guwahati and Kaziranga (the land of the one horned Rhino) during October to April. You can book a cruise to avoid the long drive to Kaziranga through road.

To celebrate the boon of the River Brahmaputra to the State of Assam, the Department of Assam Tourism and the Government of Assam organizes India’s Largest River Festival – the ‘Namami Brahmaputra Festival’ every year along the banks of the mighty River Brahmaputra at 21 districts of the Assam with the main venue at the Kachari Ghat in Guwahati. The Namami Brahmaputra Festival is a major draw for people across the Northeast Region and other parts of the Country. A congregation of people gather to witness this one of a kind event which carries some of the joyous spirit of Magh Bihu and create and atmosphere of unity among the people of Assam. One gets to savour traditional assamese cuisine and enjoy the tribal dance forms. The banks of the Brahmaputra are filled with small shops that showcase the locally made craft products and locally spun textiles. Various sporting events of the likes of like Beach cricket, Beach volleyball, water rafting, canoeing and windsurfing, ice skating, kayaking and Aero sports like ballooning, paragliding and hang gliding. Visitors and tourists can participate in these events and show their skills. Traditional games like elephant races, egg breaking and cock fighting are also held along with these modern and technically advanced games. Competitions like Sit and draw and kite flying are also held where children can take part. Exhibition of traditional craft is also a part of the Namami Brahmaputra Festival.

When: The Month of March/April every year

14| Kati Bihu Festival – September

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