Saturday, February 18, 2012

Magh Bihu 2012 : Fish Catching, Meji And A Sagolir Puwali .

a huge tree captured on camera by sobbing Gauri
Magh Bihu / Bhogali bihu of Assam is a harvest festival which marks the end of winter harvesting.The term Bhog means enjoyment,merriment and luxury.Granaries are full and there is lots of feasting and enjoyment all over Assam during this time (mid Jan to mid Feb).The same festival is observed all over India as Makar Sankranti/Pongal/Lohri.My old friends already know that every year during this time, I alongwith my family go to my husband's ancestral village Naamkhola .This year
too we had similar plan but because of a very bad flu bout I could not accompany my family and had to stay back at Guwahati .This is was the first time that I spent three days alone at home without my kids .
                                                      another shot by her : a guy walking on bamboo sticks
Surprisingly my son who is otherwise very clingy , little shy and mommies around most of the time was least bothered while my daughter who is quite adjustable to any given situation was devastated.I  gave her my camera and requested her to bring some real good pictures for  viewing and my blog post .Given project  helped and she agreed to go without me . In this post I have used some of her clicks and rest of the pictures are  captured  by Chandan.
Prityotama and Ganesh
  They reached Naamkhola in two hours and in those two hours I received three calls and more than ten sms from my concerned daughter.We communicate in Assamese most of the times but her calls were in Hindi ."Apna Khyaal Rakhna (take care of yourself)" said a heavy and concerned voice over the phone. I knew the frequency of calls and messages is going to drop down once she meets her  cousins .And I was right .While refreshments were being arranged for them Bablu ( my nephew ,Chandan's cousin's son) took them to show this sagoli (goat) goat Priyotoma and her puwali ( kid) Gonesh.
 On the field nearby village folks were busy preparing meji. Mejis are made particularly by the menfolk,with bamboo sticks,hay and wood pieces. Meji burning is a ritual where fire(Agni) is worshipped on the day of Sankranti. Know more about it here.
 In few minutes my son and sagolir puwali (as he fondly) remembers Ganesh) became good friends and were inseparable. Soon it was time for fish -catching for Uruka feast .Celebration of this bihu is mostly centered around community feast on Uruka i.e. the eve of Sankranti. On this eve people organise Bhoj(feast) either within the family or in groups.We like to keep it as an only family feast.You can know more on Uruka here .
 This is our fish-pond .It is typical of almost most of  Assamese village houesholds to have their own fish pond as fish is an integral part of Assamese cuisine.Soon Kanu da and his staff proceeded towards the pond to catch fish for Uruka bhoj. My brother-in-law Bhaskar (popularly known as Kanu Da amongst family and friends) takes full care of this pond , farm and fields.Brought up and studied  in Shillong he finally opted for farming and transport business .Happily married and father of two kids he and his family love every minute of their village life . Both the kids go to a good school in nearby town.
 I had instructed both my kids to keep a safe distance from pond and they obediently followed that .And also they were under constant observation and excellent care of ma( my mother -in-law) and Jonali their aunt (my sister-in -law).
Bablu was already in the pond trying his hands on fish catching .All the invitations to join him were flatly refused by Gauri telling him ,"Ma ie manaa korisee"( ma said no ).
 The pond is not very deep but because my kids are not good swimmers as yet I am not comfortable in letting them try .This is how our pond looks when emptied for half yearly cleaning.
 The fish  net was already  placed in position .The net used here is called Tana -Zaal ( meaning pulling net) .It was time to pull it out slowly and check the catches.The man in blue shorts is our Kanu da.The different variety of fish found in this pond are Kandhuli(Feather back) ,Chetal(humped feather back),Rau (Rohu),Common carp ,Grass carp,Silver carp and few other small ones.
 The net gets heavy because of too many fishes in it .You can see fishes jumping .
 Each fish is carefully selected depending on it's size and variety .Immature ones are thrown back to the pond .The one above looks like a great catch.
 They found a snake too in there which was thrown back to the pond.After an hour fish catching session was over .
 Happy people here.Each fish weighed between 2- 3 Kg .More than fifteen fishes were caught that day .Kanu da kept eight and rest were distributed amongst staff and some other close friends.
 Babloo with his catch.
 Saharia men ready for Uruka Bhoj (feast).
 They also collect pumpkin flowers to make fritters.This picture is from one of our previous trips.
an old picture
Kanu da takes them on a short tractor ride if time allows.
pic from our previous trip
 Some cricket is played .
A trip to the smelly pigsty is a must.
Kaustubh and Gauri are very fond of milk so they get their special share .
an old pic
The evening is enjoyed by watching making of sunga peetha and uruka feast later.

Next morning people gather around Meji .
Soon after meji burning ritual we usually go on village round visiting friends and relatives but this time Kanu da had planned a picnic at his newly bought tea garden which is in it's budding stage.I will take you there in my next post .

A Special  Request : Dear  friend Rachna who blogs at Rachna Says  has started  something very interesting to help everyone here at It is a simple concept that allows a person to create a virtual business card that looks exactly like a physical business card free of cost.The idea is to help every self-employed person, professional, housewife and student get a unique identity by creating own Biz Card. They can share this card via email, embed on blogs/websites, use on their resumes and even attach as signatures on Gmail or Outlook.Very soon there will be an Android App for those wishing to share this card through cellphones. No paper, no physical card, environment friendly and absolutely free. Try it today, and let us spread the word for the benefit of common people.The website URL is .The   FB page of the Application is  


  1. Amazing post and pictures. It's so frustrating to fall sick when everyone has to go out for the regular annual trip. You were deprived of the fun, we were not. Gauri is a photographer in making. She captured the tree beautifully. Other clicks are amazing too :)

    1. Yes Neha that was frustating but pictures and their endless stories later were fun to listen to.Thanks for enjoying the post.

  2. This was such a fabulous post, Kavita! I just loved looking at the gorgeous photos. Your daughter and Chandan did an excellent job of capturing perfect photos for your blog. I'm sorry you missed this, but you certainly got to see what they did. That fish pond is just so incredible. I'll bet everybody wishes they could have one too.

    1. We have three ponds but this one is huge ,maintainig it is a lot of work but worth it.Thanks a lot for your kind words.

  3. so interesting, fun feasts and festivals. It's good though sad you had to be left alone at home. hope you feel better now...great photos!

    1. I am on my way to recovery .Thanks for your kind words and wishes.

  4. Hats off to you Kavita! You have written a brilliant travelogue based on photographs given to you!!! Thank you!!

    1. Thank you so much .Coming from you that means a lot :)

  5. We will get used to Assamese words now, I think! Puwali is baby goat!

    I remember reading about your fish pond. You dry it in summer, clean it and then store water again! Nice! Oh, you have re-posted the dry pond!

    The fish look so huge!

    Meji is interesting!

    Will keep in mind about Rachana's cards, Kavita!

    I loved the cows! They are not normal small cows of ours. They look quite huge and clean!

    Thanks for sharing your family is interesting!

    1. Haaa ,that's the idea Sandhya :) We learn and exchange a lot through our blog post .Yes ,i too remember your comments on that post.The cows you noticed here are brought from Patna ,Kanu da visits Bihar twice every year to buy new ones.A big thanks from Gauri and me for your words of appreciation:)

  6. Gouri's tree picture is beautiful! It is so huge! Special hugs to Gauri!

  7. Wow Kavita! You people are so lucky to go to your village for celebration. I have never been to a village in my entire life :(. And, my younger son was seeing the photos with me; he was amazed by the size of the fish that was caught by your family and was asking me if it is easy to catch such big fish with net. I think we should invest in a trip where we can do such things hands on. A great account of the festival and nice photos too. You must have really missed not going this time. Thanks for sharing information about Rolodexo too!

    1. I am so glad that you showed these pictures to your son .I have with me an interesting video clip but it takes too long to upload so i gave up the idea of including it here .If i upload it ,i will forward you the link .Do visit NE ,you will enjoy it .I hope and wish that your new project is a huge success.Thanks.

  8. What a lovable and adorable daughter Gauri is. 'Ma has told no' and all those phone calls, so very cute. Please give my special hugs to her.
    And her photography is similar to yours, the shots are beautiful.
    Nice coverage of the festival, loved the pics and your simple and lucid narration.
    Its nice to see your post once again, hope you have now recovered completely from flu.

    1. Thank you so much Arti .I missed them terribly and could not sleep for two nights .I was told by my husband that snoring the night they returned - they have a video clip to prove it .

  9. What an amazing write up! Actually lived through the festival through your heartfelt narrative and your husband's and Gauri's lovely photographs.

    Kind of inspired the following :

    Daughter of the land
    Alone at home,
    but there in mind
    amidst the
    the green
    the blue
    the winter sun
    the good
    the joy
    the grandmas
    the uncles
    and the children.

    enjoyment is learning.
    And as they
    charge around
    greeting the animals,
    watching the fish,
    lolling in grandmotherly laps,
    watching the meiji
    the little girl
    thinks of her Ma,
    remembers what she said,
    wants to rush back
    home into her arms.

    For the moment,
    the huge trees
    with its
    outstretched branches
    must suffice...

    Little Gauri has suddenly grown up !

    1. This is brilliant and most beautiful Suranga !You AMAZE me everytime i read your wonderful verses.A big heartfelt thanks to you from me ,Gauri and my family for this beautiful gesture and gift.

  10. That's lovely. Is it like each family maintains their own fishing pond? Or is it common for all villagers?

    1. Not all but almost most of the families have a pond(PUKHURI) of their own. Not essentially as huge as this one.We have three ponds and this one is the biggest.

  11. Once again a gr8 post with vivid photogrpahs. since you know the Assam culture so well, you could easily relate to the pics clicked by you family.

    And those Fish! Gosh, i am so jealous :)

    Lovely, lovely post.

    And get well soon and TC

    1. We buy fish almost everyday here which is expensive and is not as fresh and big as these .Freshly caught fish does taste better and is much healthier .Thank you so much Aabha for reading the post.

  12. A Hawaiian would feel at home. Even fish ponds!

    How wonderful to see these things through you kindness, Kavita!

    Aloha from Waikiki
    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

    1. We have so much in common sister :)Aloha dear friend.

  13. I love the photos taken by your loving daughter and hubbby, Kavita! Those fish are huge. Maybe you can tell me how they are prepared for eating. Do you barbecue them or bake them or what? What is the seasoning? Too bad you could not join your family on this outing. Hope you feel better now!

    1. Gigi a big portion of these were fried in mustard oil after marinating the pieces with a paste of salt and turmeric to be consumed near the bonefire .For adults two dishes were prepared ,one was steamed ,it had lots of mustard paste and chillies as seasoning and the other one was a sour curry made with tomatoes .For kids a thick curry was made using lots of onions and a dash of ginger-garlic paste.
      I am now on my way to recovery .Thanks for reading the post Gigi .

    2. It all sounds delicious, Kavita!

  14. Hello Kavita,

    I began wondering some time ago about the absence of new posts from you. While nuisances like me , keep posting one after the other at a trot.
    But when you do bring out a post they are as usual a lovely matter.
    I have always felt the landscape of Assam is so identical to Kerala. The ponds that were a source of water, fish, and part of culture that was ubiquitous to house holds in the country side in Kerala are vanishing fast.
    The pictures you have are great. The catch is tempting and would want to devour in rich spicy masala.
    Good luck.

    1. Thank you so much Anil .Chandan tells me that Kerela is much prettier than Assam , I wish to visit Kerala someday .Home ,kids ,work keeps me busy and it does get difficult to come up with new blog post frequently .

  15. real milk from real animal and not from supermarket! this must be good

  16. Oh didi...6th picture of pond looks exactly like kerala..reminded me of my home..Thank you so much for the wonderful post.. :)
    Keep writing..

  17. Nice pictures, Kavita! Kids are having great time!

  18. Wow gauri is a big girl now.The pictures taken by her are beautiful.Sometimes it is always good no to leave them by themselves.

    Wonderful post kavitha as always....

    1. You are right Sari . I see a big positive difference in both of them after this trip .Thanks sis.

  19. Ba, Just read your blog post on "Magh Bihu" realy awesome post with Awesome photos.Thanks a lot.

    Thanks for sharing about virtual business card of

  20. Last pic is the best - burning of the haystack. A close-up view of the hay-burning would have been better. I guess, this festival (Pongal, in our place) is more for the people who involve in farming. In the cities, we are more concerned about the holidays and special programs, than the spirit of the festival. Nice showcase, without even being there! :)

    Destination Infinity

    1. I have one close up to ,will try to include it later.Thank you so much D.I. :)

  21. Beautiful pictures and great narration

  22. lovely post as usual...detailed and impressive ...
    the pictures made it more interesting..seems like you guys had fun ...this is such a thing which one can enjoy at rural area only its like a million $s enjoyment to be part of that place and company of those people...
    you r lucky :)

  23. Beautiful images from country side. Fishes are great catch. You have a loving daughter and obedient kids.
    Get well soon.

  24. Pics! they tell so many stories. Your kids are lucky ones to grow up with nature. How many kids today get to see a pig sty or milk a cow?

  25. Wonderful post and wonderful pictures. Too sorry for you got indisposed. My own niece Gouri likes to play with the Camera and she also frames the subjects well. The terrain you have is what we also have in the South Western part of the country but I really enjoy to learn about the society and culture of the people you are in. Thanks.

  26. BIHU is a well known festival of Assam but never seen it so much colorful as you made us to see here...Thanks for sharing....and btw how could Babloo managed to hold on that fish, it must be difficult to continue holding that live......

    As usual an awesome post by you Kavita ji....:)

  27. those are some really big fishes and that tree is so big too!

  28. The pictures taken by your daughter are really very good, especially the big tree. Did she also the last fire burning picture too, if so that too is fantastic. You have very obedient and good kids. Get well soon.
    love,Rama di.

  29. That was a visual treat, Kavita! Your daughter has taken lovely pictures!

  30. I am not sure how i missed this post .. sorry
    beautiful pictures .. so did the saharia men have a great feast in the evening with all that catch ..

    I had no clue about this festival Thanks for all that :)


  31. A real treat...with wonderful pictures

  32. this was truly superb.
    you son is super cute :) and that fish in the net - wow - fresh and big - mouth watering :D