Kati Bihu, also known as Kongali Bihu is one of the three prominent Bihu festivals of Assam. It is celebrated on the last day of Assamese Aahin month (sixth month of the Assamese calendar). Like the other two Bihus i.e., Bohag Bihu and Magh Bihu, Kati Bihu is also closely related to agriculture.
Kati Bihu is the quietest Bihu of the three without any fun fare unlike the other two. It keeps itself aside from colorful joy of life but more into bitter reality of a cultivator. Kati Bihu is the time when the granary is empty hence lending the name Kongali Bihu (The poor Bihu).
Towards the end of Aahin month, the farmers’ labour brings forth the golden glow on the ripe grain. In the month of Kati (seventh month of the Assamese calendar) following Aahin, the farmer gets ready to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Kati Bihu marks the completion of sowing of paddy and transplantation of the saplings (Kothia).
In the evening, Kati Bihu is celebrated by lighting saakis (earthing lamps) in houses, paddy fields, and Bhoral Ghar (Granary). Also in each household, saaki is lit up in front of the Tulsi (black basil) plant. The Tulsi plant is cleaned and planted on a specially designed earth platform called Tulsi Bheti.
People (mostly kids) assemble near the Tulsi plant in every houses, sing some prayers, songs and then collect the Mah Prasad, and head straight to the next home. Each and every household prepare Mah Prasad, which includes Boot(a kind of pulse, gram), Mogu (a kind of bean) along with fruits like banana, coconut, apple, sugarcane, pomelo etc. One of the most popular and beautiful songs, people usually sing is Tulasir Tole, Mrigapohu Sore.
In paddy fields, there is a special type of lamp lit up high on the tips of tall bamboo which is called Akaxh Bonti (Sky candle). It symbolizes cultivators’ prayer for the good health of their crops. Scientifically there is a good reason to light up these types of lamps. These lamps attract insects of the paddy fields and they fall prey into the fire of these lamps. This helps the crops to be healthy and free from insects.So as a whole, Kati Bihu is the day to remind the god of harvest to bless our paddy fields.