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Bwisagu or Baisagu is one of the most popular seasonal festival of the Bodos of Assam. In Assamese language it is called as Bihu. The Bodos call this popular festival as Baisagu, which means the start of the new year. Baisagu is a Boro word which originated from the word "Baisa" which means year or age, ang "Agu" that means starting or start. Hence, Baisagu, the starting time of the year or age. This Baisagu festival is observed at the starting part of the first month of the Assamese and Bengali year(first week of the month of Bohag or Baisakh).
Time and season: As mention earlier it's starts in new year, by new year it's not referencing the time of December-January. It's the time in the middle of April. By the end of March all leaves of trees fall down due to utterly dried. By the time new year starts, rain start on all over the place, new leaves start to born on trees. Bodos use Pohela Boishakh Calendar which is different calendar from the Gregorian calendar. The Bengali Calendar or Bangla Calendar (বঙ্গাব্দ Bônggabdô or Banggabda) is a solar calendar used in the region of Bengal. A revised version of the calendar is the national and official calendar in Bangladesh and an earlier version of the calendar is followed in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam. The New Year in the Bengali calendar is known as Pohela Boishakh. The Bengali era is called Bengali Sambat (BS) or the Bengali year (বাংলা সন Bangla Sôn, বাংলা সাল Bangla sal, or Bangabda) has a zero year that starts in 593/594 CE. It is 594 less than the AD or CE year in the Gregorian calendar if it is before Pôhela Bôishakh, or 593 less if after Pôhela Bôishakh. A revised version of the Bengali calendar was officially adopted in Bangladesh in 1987. Among the Bengali community in India, the tradition Bengali Hindu calendar continues to be in use, and it sets the Hindu festivals.
The characteristics of the Bwisagu festivals can be classified as follows:
Bwisagu, as observed by Kacharis indicates the pattern which the festival follows over the several days. The first day is for the "Makhau" or "Mwswu" meant for cattle; on which the cows are bathed in the river. The second day is meant for the "Mansi" or for Men' but starting with worship me their gods; the third day is for "Swima" meant for dogs; the fourth day is for "Oma" meant for swine; the fifth day is for "Dao", or meant for fowl; the sixth for duck and other birds; the seventh is meant for receiving relatives and friends.
House cleaning, battle rites, worship of Bathwu and offering me eatables to their ancestors, ruthoi on of new and washed clothes, receiving and visiting relatives, friends etc., may be said to constitute the formal part of the festival. Worshiping of Bathwu is done on the second day of the festival. There is also the ceremo eating me fowl cooked with bitter herb known as "Khungkha" or other wild vegetables me different taste. They offer it to the visitors also.
Merry making is the integral part of this Bodo Festival. Music and dance become a regular feature. Young men play on the "Sifung"(flute), "Kham"(drum), the four stringed "Serjã", and beat out rhythm with a piece of split bamboo called "Thãrkhã", girls dance in bands and play on the Jew's harp called "Gongonã" and small cymbals called "jotha".
The Bodos perform certain rites on the occasion me the Bwisãgu festival.
The last date of the month of Chaitra is called by the Bodos as the Bwisâgu for the cows or cattle. On that day the Bodos leads the cattle to the tank or the river for bathing. Before taking to the river or tank the cattle are offered paddy and horns and hooves are smeared with mustard oil. The body of the cow is routed with black marking with a mixture prepared from black ashes and mustard oil, using the stem of the Eri tree as the marker. The cows are also garlanded with the garlands made of gourd and brinjals. Before taking them off the cowshed the owner pays respects to them. While leading the cows to the river for bathing the cow herds sings the songs beating them lightly with the "Dighalati" plant.After taking away the cows from the cow shed the cow dungs are thrown away and the shed is cleaned. The old ropes(phaga) are replaced by new ones.
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