Dedication of Bathow Puja
In this festival, the people of Assam worship a God known by different names like Gila Damra, Khuria Bwrai, Sri Brai (Shib bwrai), Bathow Bwrai and many other folk Gods. Some identify this god with the Hindu god Lord Shiva or Mahadeva.
Forms of Bathow Puja
There are different forms of Bathow Puja. These are Garja, Kherai and Marai. Among these festivals Kherai is the most significant.
Celebration of Kherai in Bathow Puja
Before Bathow Puja, the religious rites of the Garja are performed and consequently a date is fixed by the Bodo tribal villagers for performing the Kherai Puja. Kherai Puja is one of the most important festivals in Bathow Puja. It is because; Kherai Puja is the cynosure among the people of Assam.
In Kherai Puja, a cactus called Bwrai Bathow surrounded by a small bamboo boundary is offered flowers, fruits and some grains.
Offerings of Bathow Puja
The different leaves like special grass, mango leaves and tulsi leaves dipped in a small pot with water is also kept nearby. The incense and Dhuna (coconut peel burnt in a small holder) keep on burning arousing nice fragrance.
Doudini in Bathow Puja
In this puja, Doudini, the oracle possessed by the Gods plays the main role. The Dodini enchanted with mantras by the Deuri (priest) performs the Kherai dance in front of the cactus called Bwrai Bathow.
Songs in Bathow Puja
The folk singer of Bathow Puja is accompanied by music played by men at a distance. The beat of the music has to follow the exact rhythm as taught by the Doudini beforehand. The spectators watch the Puja or the song offerings from outside the boundary made of bamboos.