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In Assam, appeals to burn CAA copies at Bhogali Bihu bonfires

File photo of a protestor hanging Assamese traditional 'gamusas' with various messages as part of a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Dibrugarh.

File photo of a protestor hanging Assamese traditional 'gamusas' with various messages as part of a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Dibrugarh.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Assam’s mid-January festival of feasting is expected to be a fiery political statement against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

Various organisations and individuals have appealed to festive revellers to burn copies of the CAA at the Bhogali Bihu bonfires out of bhelaghar, a temporary hay-and-bamboo structure that is turned to ashes as the month of Pausa ends and Magha begins.

Bhogali or Magh Bihu, marking the end of the harvesting season, is to Assam what Pongal is to Tamil Nadu and Lohri to Punjab.

“We cannot ignore our age-old festivals but at the same time, we cannot let a piece of legislation that threatens our Assamese identity and our festivals. We appeal to the people to burn copies of the CAA to register their protest,” All Assam Students’ Union general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said.

Organisations such as the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad and the Cotton University Students’ Union have given similar calls.

Traditionally, pithas (rice cakes) and betel nuts have been thrown into a meji, meaning bonfire,while wishing for a bountiful harvest for the farm season ahead. Copies of CAA would be a “political addition”, community Bihu organisers said.

Anti-CAA sentiments have been all-pervading at Bhogali fairs and stalls that sell festival-related delicacies such as jaggery, curd, til pitha (sticky rice cake with black sesame filling), sunga pitha (rice cake baked inside whole bamboo pieces), ghila pitha (fried rice cakes), narikolor laaru (sweet coconut balls) and kol pitha (banana pancakes).

Most of these stalls, set up a week ahead of the festival on January 14-15, have been displaying placards reading “No CAA”, “Scrap CAA”, and “CAA is anti-Assam”.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 5:46:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/in-assam-appeals-to-burn-caa-copies-at-bhogali-bihu-bonfires/article30557764.ece

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