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Assam lies in the heart of the Northeast. Surrounded by diverse cultures sitting at the foot of the Himalayas, one can witness the raw, untouched beauty of the state. As extraordinary in the language of Assam, Assamese weddings replicate the same speciality. They are modest and grounded. Assamese weddings are called 'Biyah' in their native language. Assamese culture is deeply rooted in the historical origin of the place. Hence simplicity and elegance are opted over glamour and extravagance. However, during weddings the bride and groom adorn chunky jewellery, wear heavy makeup and are dressed in beautiful silk clothes. The Assamese wedding dress for bride is a traditional attire called a mekhela chador. It has heavily embroidered lace work and looks rich when adorned with heavy makeup and jewellery.
Similarly, Assamese cuisine consists of a delectable array of meat, fish and other non-vegetarian dishes. The assamese wedding rituals are one of a kind. Each tradition holds significance to the rich past and the prosperous future of the bride and groom and the entire family. Overall the entire Assamese marriage is an elegant affair.
Here are a few breathtaking Assamese wedding customs that will make you want to attend one immediately!
The juron assamese wedding ceremony marks the start of the wedding rituals of an Assamese wedding ceremony. Hence it is held of great importance. During this ceremony, the first thing to be done is the ritual of Aam Gatha. Mango leaf strings are tied over each door of the house in the morning to absorb any bad karma brought into the home by visitors. This aspect of traditionality is found in most assamese households. The bride's mother and other female relatives visit the bride's house during the Juran ceremony to carry out customary traditions. A brass plate called a Xorai on a stem with betel leaves and nuts (Pan and Tamul) covered with a gamocha (a traditional assamese bathing towel) is gifted to the bride by the groom's mother. The assamese wedding card is also distributed to the family members during this ceremony.
Tel diya ceremony
The ritual is considered a symbol of blessings and good luck for the couple and a way to purify and prepare them for the main wedding ceremony. The oil is usually scented with fragrant flowers and herbs and is said to have healing properties.
The family members, especially the mother and elder sisters, apply oil to the bride and groom's hair, scalp, and body, which is believed to represent the blessings and good luck they bestow on the couple. After the oil is applied, the couple is bathed and dressed in new clothes and ornaments.
This pre-wedding ceremony signifies the bride's and groom's last meal as a bachelor and bachelorette. In the middle of the meal, a member from the groom's home arrives at the bride's parents’ house carrying a half-eaten bowl of sweet curd, traditionally called 'kheer’. The kheer is consumed by the bride during her meal as a token of love by her to-be husband.
Pani Tula ceremony
In Assamese wedding ceremonies, the ceremonial bath, also known as the 'Mangala Snan', is an important ritual before the wedding ceremony. The ritual is performed by the couple, who take a bath together in holy water, usually in a river or pond, to purify themselves and to seek blessings from the gods. The couple is expected to bathe in the water, sanctified with religious texts, flowers and other auspicious materials. This ritual is considered very important as it is believed to bring prosperity and blessings to the couple for the rest of their lives.
The ceremony is usually followed by a small puja, in which the priests and the elder members of the family bless the couple. The couple is then given new clothes and is expected to put on assamese wedding jewellery.
It's an important ritual in Assamese wedding culture, which is performed to seek the blessings of God and to purify the couples before they take their marriage vows.
Haldi and Nuoni ceremony
The Haldi ceremony, also known as the 'Halad' ceremony, is an important ritual in Assamese wedding ceremonies. This ritual takes place a day or two before the wedding ceremony.
During the Haldi ceremony, the family members and friends apply turmeric paste to the Assamese bride and groom's face, hands, and feet. The turmeric paste is made by mixing turmeric powder with water, sandalwood paste, and other fragrant herbs and flowers. The paste is believed to have healing and purifying properties and is said to bring good luck and blessings to the couple.
The Assamese bride and groom are seated on a platform, and the family members and friends take turns applying the paste to their skin. After the paste is applied, the couple is then bathed. The bathing ceremony is known as Nuoni. Later, and dressed in new clothes and ornaments.
The ceremony of Nau Purush Sharddha is a Hindu religious ritual observed by Assamese communities in India. The purpose of this ceremony is to pay homage to the Nine Divine Forms and seek blessings for success, happiness, and prosperity.
The ceremony typically involves the following steps:
This ceremony can be performed by individuals or families and is usually conducted by a Hindu priest. It is often held on special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, or during religious festivals. The intensity and duration of the ceremony may vary, but the essence remains the same - to seek blessings from the Nine Divine Forms and affirm one's faith and devotion.
A unique aspect of the traditional Assam wedding is the reception ceremony. It is traditionally conducted in the Indian state of Assam before the wedding ceremony, unlike usual Indian traditions. It is a joyous occasion celebrated among friends, family and relatives.
The reception venue is beautifully decorated with traditional Assamese motifs and flowers. Assamese cuisine is served. This includes dishes like pitha (rice cakes), fish curry, and bamboo shoot pickle. Traditional Assamese music is played, and guests are invited to dance and sing along. Various games and activities are organised to entertain the guests, such as singing competitions, hand-pulling, and tug-of-war. The bride and groom receive gifts from friends and family members.
The reception is a time for the nuptial bride and groom to bond with their families and friends and celebrate their new lives together. It is a lively and vibrant celebration reflecting Assam's unique cultural heritage.
The arrival of the groom
In an assamese wedding, the groom's arrival at the wedding venue is an important and highly anticipated moment. He leaves his parental house with the blessings of his mother. Typically, the groom and his baraat (procession) arrive on horseback or in a decorated vehicle, accompanied by family members, friends, and musicians. He wears the traditional assamese groom's wedding dress. This includes a 'dhoti', a kurta and a silk shawl on his shoulder. Once he arrives at the venue, he is not allowed to enter.
Through a series of fun-filled games and playful teasing, he finally steps inside the wedding hall. This ceremony is called the Dora Aaha. The assamese wedding decoration in itself is a sight to behold.
As the groom arrives, the bride's family, particularly the mother, and guests welcome him with traditional Assamese music and dance. The groom is greeted with a shower of flowers and offered a garland by the bride's family.
'Bhori' is the Assamese vernacular for feet, and 'dhuwa' means wash. Hence, in the custom of Bhori dhuwa, the groom’s feet are washed as a sign of respect and acceptance by the bride's family. This is a significant ritual in an Assamese wedding.
The wedding ceremony typically includes the following steps:
Jaimala Ceremony: Amongst a beautiful ceremony of music and dance, the regal Assamese bride puts the garland around the groom’s neck. Then, the groom does the same around the bride’s neck. and the couple is surrounded by friends and family members who shower them with blessings and good wishes. Both the bride and groom are dressed in the traditional Assamese wedding dress.
Kanyadaan Ceremony: The bride's father gives her hand in marriage to the groom, signifying the transfer of responsibility from the father to the groom.
Saptapadi ceremony: In the Saptapadi ceremony, the Assamese wedding bride and groom hold hands and take seven steps together, each step representing a vow of love, trust, and commitment. The couple makes each step in a clockwise direction around the sacred fire, which represents the divine witness to their union.
Sindoor and Mangalsutra Ceremony: The groom applies sindoor (vermilion powder) on the bride's forehead and ties the mangalsutra (sacred necklace) around her neck, marking her as a married woman.
Aashirwad Ceremony: The elders in the family bless the newly-weds and wish them a long and happy life together.
The wedding ceremony is conducted by a Hindu priest, who leads the couple through the rituals and prayers. The ceremony is attended by friends, family, and community members, who witness and celebrate the union of the bride and groom.
The Assamese wedding ceremony is a beautiful and meaningful celebration of love, commitment, and tradition. It is the key moment that marks the start of a new chapter in the bride and groom's lives.
After the main wedding ceremony, several post-wedding rituals are performed in an Assamese wedding. These rituals are a vital part of the Assamese wedding tradition and serve to deepen the bond between the bride and groom and their families. Some of the most common post-wedding rituals are:
This is the ritual of the newlywed couple entering their home for the first time as a married couple. Her husband carries the bride over the threshold, and their families and friends greet the couple.
This is the ritual of the bride saying goodbye to her family and leaving her parents' home for her husband's home. It is an emotional moment for the bride and her family, but it also symbolises the bride's new status as a married woman and her commitment to her husband and his family.
The khel dhemali is an opportunity for the newlywed couple to receive blessings and good wishes from friends and family with games and other activities. It is a joyous celebration of the couple's union and a time for everyone to come together and celebrate their love and happiness.
This is the ritual of the couple visiting their respective homes after the wedding and seeking the blessings of their parents and elders. Then, the couple visits their families and receives gifts and blessings from their elders.
These post-wedding rituals are an important part of the Assamese wedding tradition and serve to strengthen the bond between the beautiful couple and their families. In addition, they are an opportunity for the newlywed couple to receive blessings, good wishes, and support from their loved ones and to start their new life together with the support of their families and friends.