The Bhogali Bihu, or Magh Bihu festival in Assam, may not be about gambling, but rather epicurean delights, however, part of the fun of this festival includes gambling. While gambling, for the most part, is illegal in India, the police have made it clear that for a festival such as this a blind eye will be turned. The reason for this is that the gambling that takes place is not gambling that is done for money, but rather for items such as eggs, fish, goats, ducks, and so on. The festival of Bhogali Bihu marks the end of the harvest.
Gambling and lottery games are found around the countryside and in urban areas during this festival. A senior police officer commented: “Surely, there’s a ban on gambling but when it’s Bhogali Bihu and a duck, we consider relaxing some rules for the festive period.”
The police officer further noted: “We asked them not to involve any monetary thing in this gambling. But the relaxation is only for a few days. If you find someone running such gambling sessions, we are going to take action.”
It is said that the traditional gambling that comes along with the Bhogali Bihu festival simply adds to the joy and celebration of the spirit of this holiday. Not only is gambling for money illegal, the organizers made a decision to ensure that celebrants do not end up out of pocket.
Bishnu, an organizer of the event, said: “We all know gambling is not legal but it gives us an ethnic flavour in the celebration. Moreover, with high inflation everywhere, we are just trying to reduce the pinch in the lucky one’s pocket.”
It is possible to buy tickets for the lotteries for Rs. 50. One of the ticket sellers said that it is certainly worth entering the lottery at that price since a goat can be worth about Rs. 20,000.