| These structures are the venue for the community
feasts in which special meat and fish dishes are prepared. Young people stay up
all night in the meji, singing, dancing and gossiping around a bonfire. In the
earlier days when dense tropical forests surrounded the fields, these huts were
night-posts to guard the newly harvested crops from wild animals. The vigilante
used his high-pitched drum to rouse the village if he spotted a wild animal. In
recent times, even though there is no such danger, this custom has been retained
at least during the days of the festival. The next morning, these structures are
burnt symbolizing the end of such arduous vigils before the next harvest. Practically
too, the burning removes all dirt and leftovers from the harvest, and clears the
fields for the new harvest. Farmers offer prayers to the sun and the earth, and
apply vermilion and sandalwood paste on their cleaned and polished implements.
This day marks both the annual servicing of the tools as well as their worship.
The festival comes to a conclusion with another feast at night.
The three Bihu festivals represent the three phases of human life: birth, growth
and death. While Bhogali Bihu represents the birth and nurturing in the form of
the harvest, Rongali Bihu represents its growth and adult hood. Kati Bihu represents
the symbolic death when the fields are bare. But even in death lies the hope of