Visual by: Abiskar Banikya
The symbol of Assamese culture and unity is its traditional folk ‘Bihu‘ and it exemplifies the spirit of Assam, in a differently ethnic diverse region. The most important part of Bihu is its cultural aspect along with its music, dances, songs, musical instruments etc. All of them disclose the unique character of Assam and this is what makes the identity of the Assamese community growing.
Although the use of musical instruments is changing its face with the generations, here are some most important Instruments of Bihu we want you all to know about.
It is considered as the most important musical instrument of Assamese Folk culture, Dhol is a very crucial part of almost all types of festivals in Assam. Bihu and Husari are incomplete without Dhol . The Dhol playing always takes the lead in Bihu and Husari.
There are different types of Dhols that are being used by different communities in Assam on several occasions. Some kinds of ‘Dhols’ are
The Bihu Dhol
Pepa is one of the most important and delightful musical instruments in Assamese Bihu. Though it is still unknown how Pepa was introduced to Bihu, it is generally played by young Bihuwas (A male Bihu artist). When the Pepuwa or the Pepa player plays, the rest accompany him by clapping hands and playing the Toka. The Dhol is played with less intensity, so that the Pepa gets the most importance.
Pepa has many different names in different tribal communities of Assam, such as , the Missings call it ‘Pempa’, The Dimasas ‘xuri’ the Rabhas ‘Singra’ and the tea tribe calls it ‘Pepati’
Gogona is another musical instrument in bihu which is held in the mouth to play .It’s a contribution of the Mongolian culture. It is made of Bamboo, and requires a high level of workmanship. Gogona is known by different names. According to size, Gogonas are named differently, such as Lihiri Gogona, Rmdhon Gogona, xaliki Gogona, etc.
Apart from being extensively used in Bihu of Assam, almost all the other tribes in Assam use Gogona in the folk music. Nowadays it has become necessary for a Bihuwati or the female Bihu performer to play Gogona in stage competitions.
Baahi is primarily an instrument of Vaisnavite culture of Assam. It is extensively used in different forms of Assamese folk and is one of the principal instruments of Bihu. The Baahi is also known as Muruli, Benu, Bäxee, etc in different parts of Assam. Almost all the tribes of Assam uses Bähee in their folk music
Taal is a percussion instrument used in pairs, is made of bell metal. Taal are of several sizes and shapes and are almost all forms of folk music of the region. The tribes of Assam also used different varieties of Taal in their indigenous folk music. These varieties of Taal are known as ‘Jotha’ among the Bodos, ‘Sengso’ among the Karbis, ‘Lupi’ among the Missings etc.
Xutuli is the instrument which looks like the half moon. Xutuli are believed to have existed since the time beyond history. These types of instruments try to imitate the sound of animals, birds and flute. In a popular belief in Assamese folk culture, it is said that the sound of Xutuli invites rain.
In Bohag Bihu , Xutuli has its own set of importance. Initially, the Gorokhiya lora or the Cowboy used Xutuli as a toy, because of ease of construction . Now xutuli is played by both boys and girls in Bihu , but most importantly it is a crucial part of Jeng Bihu and Bihuwati dances, and principally played by girls.
7. Toka – The Bamboo Slapstick
The major beat of Bihu music was kept by clapping hands, which finally led to development of instruments like toka. Toka is a very prominent and easily available musical instrument used in Assamese folk Music. The Bodo tribe of Assam called this ‘Thorka’.
There are three types of Toka’s used in Assamese Folk music and each of the types is slightly different in formation. The different types of Tokas are
Pati Toka or Haat Toka
Bor Toka or Maati Toka
Jeng Toka or Dhutong
No matter how much with time the theme changes, bihu will always remain a big part in Assamese culture, and these musical instruments of Bihu will always define it.
The most important festival of Assam, is a harvest festival that is celebrated to mark the shift in the Sun’s solstice. The Sun which enters its transitory phase towards North is celebrated with much fervor and enthusiasm across the nation for its significant impact on agriculture and crops.