Guwahati: Celebrations for Assam`s harvest festival Bhogali Bihu or Magh Bihu began on `Uruka` on Sunday with community feasts and prayers to the fire god not to unleash its wrath during the summer.
As the name Bhogali suggests feasting and with the granaries full after a good harvest, people today began celebrations for the agrarian festival by erecting hut-like `mejis` or `bhelaghars` with bamboo, hay, dry leaves, wood and twigs of heights upto 40 feet.
Irrespective of caste, religion or language, people from all communities in a spirit of brotherhood gathered to participate in the celebrations by building the structure and preparation of local delicacies of fish and meat for a grand feast inside the `mejis` in the open agriculture fields.
To the enchanting notes of flutes and buffalo horns, the youths sing the joyous lilting Bihu songs with lyrics of a good harvest and rejoice in the vibrant and joyful festival also called `Maghar Domahi`.
At home the women folk prepare a variety of sweets, including `pitha` prepared from a special sticky red `bora` rice, coconut, sesame and jaggery.
After a night of merry-making and feasting, tomorrow at the crack of dawn the `mejis` will be set ablaze to the chanting of prayers appealing to the fire god (Agni) not to cause destruction during the coming dry months.
Though this festival is primarily observed in the
rural areas, Bhogali Bihu is also celebrated in the urban areas with community feasts at different localities and also `mejis` in some open places and on river banks.
The spirit of the Bihu festivities and celebrations grips the state a week ahead of the occasion with people going to their native places to celebrate Bihu with their near and dear ones.
The capital city, Guwahati, wears a deserted look with a large floating population making the journey homeward to the districts to celebrate Bihu and Makar Sankranti.