Bihu is the symbol of Assamese cultural unity, and represents the spirit of Assam, in an otherwise diverse ethno-economic composition. The most important part of Bihu is its cultural aspect. Its music, dances, songs, musical instruments etc. All of them disclose the unique Assamese character and this is how become the identity of the growing global Assamese community.
Although the use of musical instruments are changing its face with the generations, here are 10 most important Instruments of Bihu we want to tell you about.
Considered to be the most important Musical instrument of Assamese Folk culture, Dhol is a very crucial part of any festival of almost all tribes of Assam. Assamese Bihu and Husari are incomplete without Dhol . The Dhol playing always takes the lead in Bihu and Husari.
There are different types of Dhols are used by different communities of Assam in different occasions. These are like
- The Bihu Dhol
- Oja Dhol
- Dhepa Dhol
- Jay Dhol
- Bor -Dhol
- Kavi Dhol
The different parts of an Assamese Dhol
Pepa is one of the most important and delightful Musical instruments of Assamese Bihu. Its unknown how Pepa was introduced to Bihu. Pepa is generally played by a young Bihuwas (A male Bihu artist) . When the Pepuwa (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 Pepuwa get the most importance.
Pëpa is known by 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 an instrument which held in the mouth to play. Its a contribution of the Mongolian culture. Its made of Bamboo, and requires high level of workmanship. Gogona is known by different names. According the 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 Mogoloid and Kirat tribes of Assam use Gogona in the folk music. Now a days it is compulsory for a Bihuwati,(A female Bihu perfomer) 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
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Taal is a percussion instrument used in a pair, is made of bell metal. Taal of different sizes and shape are used in 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 be existing since the time beyond history. These types of instruments tries to imitate the sound of animals and birds and produce the sound of a flute. In the Assamese folk culture, people believe that the sound of Xutuli invites rain.
In Bohag Bihu , Xutuli has importance of its own. Initially, the Ggorokhiya lora (cowboy’s) used Xutuli as a toy, because of ease of construction . Xutuli is played by both boy and girls in Bihu , but most importantly Xutuli is an indispensable part of Jeng Bihu and Bihuwati dances, and predominantly played by girls. Now a days every Bihuwati is desired be an accomplished Xutuli player.
7. Toka – The Bamboo Slapstick
The primary beat of Bihu music was kept by clapping hands, which finally led to development of instruments like toka. Toka is very popular 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 type is slightly different in construction. The different types of Tokas are
- Pati Toka or Haat Toka
- Bor Toka or Maati Toka
- Jeng Toka or Dhutong
Bin is like the violin. Its one of the oldest traditional musical instruments of Assam. Apart from Bihu, Boiragi’s (vagabond singing monks) also use been with their mystical songs. Bin is also played along with ‘ Kuxan gaan’ a folk music of the Goalpara region of Assam, but the call is ‘Bena’ in Goalporia.
Though the Bin has been an indispensable part of Bihu originally, It has become quite rare now a days.
Khol is also a percussion instrument and looks very similar to dhol. The instrument is made from clay, with one end having a small head, while the other one having a larger head. It is usually played with both the hands and is strung from the neck using a band.
The other name of a Nagada is kettle drums that are played with sticks and usually accompanies the Shehnai.
With inputs from www.anvesha.co.in/assamese/