Kati Bihu | Kongali Bihu 2023
Kati Bihu or Kongali Bihu is celebrated on the first day of the Assamese month of Kati (the seventh month of the Assamese calendar). This Bihu is characterized by a feeling of solemnity as there is a scarcity of crops during the period of this festival.
This is a much somber festival when compared to the other two Bihu festivals of the state – the Rongali and Bohagi Bihu. The word Kongali means poor and it is the time when the granaries of the farmers are usually empty and there is little to eat. Kati Bihu is celebrated during the relocation of the rice sapling during the month of October.
Assam being predominantly an agricultural state and rice being its staple crop, Bihu holds an important place in the heart of the Assamese people. ‘Kati Bihu’ is one of the three Bihu in Assam celebrated by people together irrespective of their faith caste and language as secular agriculture-based festivals.
The other two Bihus are Magh Bihu in January marked by a feast after a good harvest and Bohag or Rongali Bihu in April celebrated on the onset of the Assamese New Year and spring season and is the sowing festival. While Kati Bihu is associated with crop protection and worship of plants and crops and is an animistic form of the festival.
On this Bihu, people light earthen lamps in front of the Tulsi plant, the storage, the garden, and the paddy fields for praying for a good harvest according to local belief. Farmers tie a special kind of lamp, known as Akash Bati, to the poles and the poles are placed in the paddy fields.
To protect the maturing paddy, cultivators whirl a piece of bamboo and emanate spells to ward off pests and the evil eye. The cattle are also fed with pithas which are sweets with ground rice. It is believed, that during this night the spirits transcend to their heavenly abode and the light show them the way.
Sacred to the Hindus, the tulsi (basil) tree is planted or pruned in the courtyard of each household and for the whole Assamese month of Kati, people worship the Tulsi plant with an earthen lamp. It is not only celebrated in Assam but also overseas by the Assamese diaspora community living worldwide.
In the year 2023, Kati Bihu or Kongali Bihu will be celebrated on October 18 (Wednesday).
Kati Bihu Celebration
In the evening of Kati Bihu people light earthen lamps in houses, paddy fields, Granary. Each household lit an earthen lamp in front of the tulsi plant. The Tulsi plant is cleaned and planted on a specially designed earth platform called Tulsi Bheti. They assemble near the Tulsi plant and sing prayers and collect Mah prasad, which includes Boot(a kind of pulse, gram), Mogu (a kind of bean) along with fruits like banana, coconut, apple, sugarcane, pomelo, etc.
The most beautiful part of this Bihu is the lighting of lamps known as Akash Bati in paddy fields, it symbolizes cultivators’ prayer for the good health of their crops. Scientifically there is a good reason to light up these types of lamps. These lamps attract insects of the paddy fields and they fall prey to the fire of these lamps. This helps the crops to be healthy and free from insects.
People worship the deities, for a rich harvest. It is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Lakshmi who is the dispenser of wealth to mortals. Kati Bihu is the day to remind the god of the harvest to bless our paddy fields.