Weddings in Assam
Marked with soberness, Assamese weddings are attractive and beautiful in their own subtle manner. The saree and mekhla chadar are the key fashion element of an Assamese wedding. The wedding ceremony is known as ‘Biya’, in the Assamese language. Like all major traditional Hindu weddings, an Assam wedding also has pre & post wedding ceremonies.
The ceremonies that constitute the Pre-wedding rituals are Juran, Tel Diya custom, Pani tola and Nuani.
Juran – In this ritual, mother of the groom visits the bride’s house, and gives gifts to the bride and her family in a traditional brass plate called xhorai.
Tel Diya – In this custom where the mother of the groom puts a ring and betel on the bride’s hair partition, and then oils it thrice, and puts sindoor. This custom culminates in gifting the bride with her wedding trousseau.
Pani Tola – Collecting holy water for the Bride by mothers of both the bride and groom is called Pani tola.
Nuani – This is tradition of taking a ceremonial bath for both the bride and groom.
The completion of Pre-wedding rituals leads to a wedding reception for all guests, where they are served with splendid food. The groom side of the family then proceeds to a procession. Having reached the venue, both sides of the families interact and indulge in fun activities.
The procession from the groom’s side has to pay a heavy price to gain entry into the bride’s home. The groom is then welcomed with a lot of respect by the bride’s mother, and then having seated, the bride’s sister washes his feet. Afterward, bride’s brother lifts him up to take him take him inside the wedding hall.
The bride is given a mixture of ghee, curd, honey, sugar and raw milk, called Panch-amrit, before entering the hall. The bride is taken there on the shoulders of her uncle. The wedding custom is then held in front of the sacred fire. The priest chants holy mantras, and the couple garland each other. Amidst the sound of conch shells being blown, the groom puts sindoor on the bride’s hair parting.
The newlywed couple is then blessed by the present family members and friends.
The wedding culminates into the couple being welcomed at the groom’s house with a traditional aarti.
Style & Attire
Marriages are the most celebrated life-events all around the world, and hence a lot of pomp and show is attached to it. The Assamese people also like to celebrate this occasion in a splendid manner. People from both the sides dress up in their finest traditional wedding attires, which adds to the traditional charm.
The groom wears a traditional Dhoti, Kurta and Cheleng (a shawl of Assamese style), gifted by the bride’s family. The groom’s attire is traditionally accessorised by a flower and Indian Basil garland.
The traditional dress worn by the Assamese bride is called Mekhla. Mekhla is generally created on Muga silk, and is adorned with gold and silver threads. Muga custom is specific to the state of Assam and a vital part of the tradition and culture of the state. This fabric serves as a good base fabric for Mekhla Chadar. Mekhla is a very interesting ensemble, which appears like a sari. Though originally a sari is a single piece of cloth, Mekhla comprises of two or three pieces of clothing.
The first part of the Mekhla is worn as a skirt and the other half like an anchal of the sari. The fabric of the skirt part is heavy in texture, and is ornamented with a broad border and embroidery. In contrast, the fabric on the anchal part is light-weight and flowing. Mekhlas are designed in a myriad of colors like green, blue, yellow and red.
Present Day Scenario
Nowadays, apart from the traditional Mekhlas, the Assamese brides have started to wear Silk Saris. There are many options of silk saris available in the market, like Banarasi, Chanderi silk Kanjeepuram, Maheshwari, Brocade and Uppada.
Out of the many accessories used to adorn the Assamese bride, the jewelry is the most important. Gold jewelry is worn in contemporary or traditional designs. Some Assamese jewelry is made by hand, and is called Jun Biri. The traditional Jun Biri designs are inspired by nature, musical instruments and other Assamese household goods. This jewelry compliments the gorgeous Mekhla Chadar. Other accessories used by the bride include bracelets, bangles, nose rings, made with different metals and shaped in various designs.