Since times immemorial, the north-eastern state of Assam has been the home to a large number of fairs and festivals, most of which have their origins in the diverse beliefs of the numerous tribes and races residing there. But the most enticing fact is that every festival is participated in and equally enjoyed by all the Assamese, irrespective of their caste and religion. There is a sense of togetherness and unity seen among the masses during the festive season and the atmosphere everywhere is that of celebrations and merriment. Each and every festival is celebrated with equal passion and fervor, thus reflecting the lifestyle and tradition of the people of Assam.
Major Fairs & Festivals of Assam
The fairs in Assam, as in any other part of India, are associated with religious ceremonies in the temples. The most popular among these is the Ambubachi Fair. Celebrated in the urban area of Guwahati, it is the most important fair of the state, which revolves around the Kamakhya temple.
The most important and enchanting festival of Assam is Bihu, which is also its state-festival. The word Bihu originated from the Sanskrit word Vishu and is celebrated three times a year, marking the change of season in accordance with the Assamese calendar.
The onset of the 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 Beach Festival, which is held every year at this time.
In an attempt to conserve and protect the exclusive species that we know as Asiatic elephant, the northeastern state of Assam organizes an annual festival every year, at the Kaziranga National Park, known as Elephant Festival. This is joint operation by the Forest Department and Tourism Department of the Government of Assam.
Majuli festival is celebrated in the district of Majuli, which is the biggest river island in the world. It also serves as the center of Assamese civilization and is home to the Neo- Vaishnavite culture, for which the state is very renowned.
Assam is known all across the globe for the production of the famous black tea. In fact tea has almost become a brand-identity for the name Assam. Total tea production in the state is around 400 million kg per annum, which accounts to 50% of the total tea production of India.
Me- Dum- Me- Phi
Me- Dum- Me- Phi or the ancestor worship festival is celebrated by the Ahom community of Tai origin. In an attempt to develop contacts and communication among the people of the community, thousands of devotees meet every year at some common point. This is followed by processions in the streets and it is a must that everyone be dressed in the traditional attire.
The tribes of Bodo and Kachari celebrate Baishagu festival during the spring season, at the start of the Assamese New Year. It is a two-day festival and is spent amidst fun and gaiety. The first day begins with the worship of cows. The next day corresponds with the 1st day of the Assamese Bohag month. Lord Shiva (Bathou in native terms) is worshipped and offerings like rice beer and chicken are given to Him. The young ones bow down respectfully to the elders. The festival also witnesses dance performances, for which age and sex are no bar. Towards the closure of the festival, special community prayers are offered at a place called ‘Garjasali ’.
This is a spring time festival, celebrated by the Rabha community of Assam. Also called the Khoksi Puja, the festival comes across as the worship of the Goddess of Wealth, known as ‘Baikho’.
The Deoris of Assam observe this festival during the spring season. Derived from the Chutiya word 'Bisu' (Bi- extreme, Su- rejoicing), the festival is a continuous celebration of 7 days. It usually starts on a Wednesday, with Than Puja and there is buffalo sacrifice every fourth year. This, in actual, is the replacement of the traditional human sacrifice practiced during the yester years. The major attractions of the festival are the Deodhani dance and Husori (folk song).
Ali- Ai- Ligang
Ali- Ai- Ligang festival is a reflection of the passion and vigor of the youth. Celebrated during the spring season, it is one of the most colorful festivals of Assam. It is organized by the Mising tribe in the month of ‘Ginmur Polo’ (February-March), on the first Wednesday of the month.