Bihu is the national festival of the Assamese. It is secular in concept because it is intimately connected with agriculture. Although this festival has nothing to do with the divine deities, offerings are made in the temples to satisfy the Gods and Goddesses and people pray to attain more prosperity in their occupation. There are three Bihus that are celebrated at various stages of cultivation of paddy, the principal crop of Assam. They are Bahag (Baisakh) Bihu, Kati (Kartika) Bihu and Magh (Magha) Bihu. The Bahag Bihu is the most important one that starts on the last day of the month of Chaitra, which is also the last day of the Hindu calendar year. In Goalpara and Kamrup districts of lower Assam, Bihu is called Domahi and it is not accompanied with dancing as in upper Assam.
The festival called Bhatheli is celebrated in the first week of Bahag in some parts and Sori. This festival is considered as a substitute for Bihu in these parts. A special feature of the festival is a colourful fair in the adjacent areas of temples, where people especially young men and girls gather in new and gay attire from all the neighbouring villages.
Devaddhvani is another noteworthy Assam temple festival held once a year at Kamakhya. This festival lasts for three days from the last day of Sravana to the second day of Bhadra. With the temples, the Manasa deity is associated and Maroi puja is done. Many people of Goalpara, Kamarupa, Darrang and Nowgong districts of Assam worship Manasa, the serpent goddess, during this festival. In Sualkuchi and Pasariya villages, the festival continues for five days. Manasa festival is celebrated at Kamakhya temple in honour of the Snake goddess Manasa also called 'visahari' (the remover of poison). The deity is worshipped during diseases and epidemic.
The Rangali Utsav of Assam is one of the most important festivals in Guwahati, coinciding with Bohag Bihu. Celebrated in the month of April at Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, the deity is offered with prayers to bring about favourable conditions in the agricultural season. Deul of Barpeta or the Doul Yatra, synchronizes with Holi and is enjoyed within temple premises.
Pocham and Pochi
The Buddhist, Shans and Burmese on the borders of Assam have their two great festivals held in their sacred sites, namely the Pocham and Pochi, in honour of the Buddha.
Besides the above mentioned festivals, Assam temples are also places to celebrate the Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Shiva Ratri in grand manner. Goddess Durga is worshipped in Assam temples in various forms, whereas Shiva Mandirs in Assam have special significance. The Assam temple festivals are enjoyed by the people of all ages and thousands of pilgrims flock to this land in order to catch a glimpse of the colourful temple festivals of Assam.
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