Festivals of the Bodo tribes
18th Jan, 2011
Festivals constitute a significant part of the culture of the Bodo people. The Bodos have a rich tradition of festival. They have many festivals where the Bodo people both men and women wear colourful traditional dresses and they dance and sing. These people are popularly known for their colourful folk dances.
Festivals of the Bodos can be divided into:
v Seasonal or agricultural
v Ritualistic and
Further the seasonal or agricultural festivals can be divided into:
v Baisagu or Bhogali, in the month of Bohag (in the mid April): One of the most cherished festivals of this tribal group is Baishagu. It is basically a springtime festival and is celebrated during mid April.
v Domashi or Bhogali, in the month of Magh (in the mid January)
v Katrigacha or Kati Bihu, in the month of Kati (in the month of October - November)
Religious festivals of the Bodos include Kherai, Garja and Marai.
Kherai Puja is the most important and famous festival among all the religious festivals of Bodos. This is the national festival of the Bodos. In kherai puja the altar is placed in the rice field. This is the only festival where the entire atmosphere of the traditional society becomes fully surged. In the Kherai festival, Bathou – Shibrai is worshipped among with 18 (eighteen) Gods and Goddess in the various contexts. Bathou represent the five basic elements of life-processes i.e. the Panchabhuta. These are: earth, air, water, weather and fire. These basic elements are the root of everything. Kherai puja begins with various religious and traditional dances and songs and playing of musical instruments. These are performed in their honour and glory. The dances are essential and inevitable part of the Kherai worship and they are exhibited in items serially and chromatically. The items carry different and distinct significances of various Gods and Goddess. The Dance represents the activities and behaviors of Gods and Goddess. The dances are initiated, guided and controlled by the Deodhani or Doudini, who is the focal figure of the dances. The Doudini or Deodhani is supposed to be the perfect embodiment or representative of the supreme power. Doudini or Deodhani is the female Shaman or women oracle.
The Kherai dance is strictly restricted to the womenfolk. Men are allowed to play on various musical instruments, yet they have to maintain the honourable distance with the precinct.
Kherai festival celebrated in the month of Kati (October - November), before harvesting and just after completion of all plantation work. It is believe that this festival have some short of relationship with the fertility cult. Virtually Garja and Marai do not fall within the range of festival
Garja, Khrai and Marai festivals are associated with Bathou worship of the Bodo people. From the time immemorial they worship the Lord Shiva. . These religious rites of the Bodo people commonly worshipped and performed by all the villagers at a particular worshipping place; but the Marai is a religious rite worshipped and performed privately by the individual families to satisfy the Goddess Marai. Marai puja is not largely prevalent as Garja among the Bodo people.
Other important festivals of the Bodos include Hapsa Hatarnai, Awnkham Gwrlwi Janai.