Assamese Wedding Culture

Assamese Wedding Rituals

Assamese wedding ceremonies are often referred to as ‘Biye’ in the native language and are a simple affair. While they are not as flamboyant as some other Indian weddings, weddings between individuals from this north-eastern state are elegant and deeply grounded in their culture.  The wedding takes place over 2-3 days, depending on the number of ceremonies that are included. It is a time for family and friends to come together, to celebrate the union of two people in matrimony. One unique aspect of this style of wedding is the singing of ‘biya name’ or ‘biya geet’ by the women in the family during most of the pre and post wedding rituals. These are also accompanied by a blowing of the conch and uruli, a sound made by the women when they roll their tongue inside their mouth. To understand these traditions better, read on!

Pre-wedding Rituals

Juran Diya

 The Juran ceremony generally takes place one or two days before the wedding. In the morning, strings of mango leaves are tied over every door of the house to absorb negative energy from anyone entering the house during these auspicious days and is known as Aaam Dali gatha. During the Juran ceremony, the groom’s mother visits the bride’s house with a number of female relatives to perform traditional rituals; the bride’s mother greets her by presenting her with a brass plate containing betel leaves and nuts (Pan and Tamul) and covered with a gamocha (Assamese bathing towels).

Assamese Wedding Rituals

Tel Diya 

In Tel Diya custom, the groom’s mother puts a ring and betel nut on the parting of her daughter-in-law’s hair. She then pours the oil that she has brought with her over these objects and applies sindoor or vermilion on the bride’s partition. The practice of applying sindoor is slightly different from that of most other Indian traditions in the sense that it is not the husband doing so, but the mother-in-law. Once it has been applied, the bride is also gifted her trousseau or outfit that she will wear on the wedding day.

Tel Diya

Wedding Day Rituals

Pani Tola 

The mothers of the bride and the groom gather water from a nearby pond or river for the ceremonial bath later in the day. Both of them must carry a brass stand with lighted diya, placed over a heap of rice along with a pair of betel nut leaves, a coin and a knife. They collect water from the water body while other female relatives sing ‘Biya Naam’ songs and then walk back without looking back at the pond or lake. The coin is given to the bride and groom while the knife is tied to the Gamosa that they have to carry with them until the wedding is over.

Daiyan Diya

The groom’s side must send curd to the bride’s house early in the morning. One half is eaten by the bride while the other half is sent back for the groom to consume.

Nau Purushor Shraddha

During this ritual, homage is paid to the ancestors of both families. Generally, the father of the groom performs this ritual to offer obeisance to the past nine generations of the paternal family.

Nuoni or Ceremonial Bath

The bride and the groom receive ceremonial baths using the water that was collected in the morning and this ritual is known as Nuoni. The mother of the bride and groom applies to oil, curd and a paste of maah-halodhi (urad lentils and turmeric) and is followed by other married ladies of the family. Then the water is poured over them to wash away the paste.

Reception

Assamese hold the reception before the actual wedding. During this ceremony, the bride is decked up in her wedding finery and made to sit on a special seat. She greets all family and friends by presenting them saunf. She is taken back inside once the groom has arrived at the venue.

Assamese Wedding Rituals

Arrival of the Groom

The groom gets ready for the wedding attire presented to him by the bride’s family. He then takes blessings from his mother, who according to tradition is not allowed to see the wedding, and leaves the house accompanied by a procession.

Dora Aaha

The groom’s procession is given entry into the bride’s home only after they pay a certain amount of money. This includes a lot of haggling and negotiations in good humor between the two sides to decide upon the amount.

Bhori Dhuwa

The bride’s mother welcomes him with a traditional aarti thali while the bride’s sister washes his feet. The groom is not allowed to set foot on the ground and hence the brother of the bride lifts him to take him to the wedding hall. The bride is given panch – Amrit, a mixture of ghee, curd, honey, sugar and raw milk, before going into the hall.

Biye or Wedding 

The bride makes a grand entry on the shoulders of her maternal uncle or brothers. The wedding ceremony then begins and takes place in front of the sacred fire. The couple exchange garlands and the various rituals followed is that of the traditional Vedic ceremony. During this ceremony, all the relatives and friends gathered around the mandap sing songs. In addition, conch shells are blown and ‘urulis’ are made by the women.

Saptapadi 

The couple is then asked to go around the holy fire seven times while they chant the sacred wedding vows. After this, the bride steps on seven betel leaves with her right foot.

Post-wedding Rituals

Bidaai

After the wedding ceremony is over, the bride bids a tearful goodbye to her family and throws handfuls of rice over her shoulder to show her gratitude and symbolize the repaying her parents for taking care of her. The couple then goes to the groom’s house.

Ghor Gosoka

The groom’s mother welcomes the couple into the house. The bride places her feet on a flat dish containing milk and enters the home by breaking a Saaki, a lamp made of clay. She then has to observe certain rituals and is shown around the house before she is sent back to her parent’s home.

Aathmangla

On the eighth day of marriage, the newlyweds visit the bride’s paternal home where relatives gather to welcome the couple and treated to an elaborate lunch.

Wedding Attire

The traditional wedding attire for Assamese men comprises of a kurta, dhoti, and Cheng- an Assamese style shawl that is be draped around the neck. All these items are generally made of silk, specifically Muga Silk, a specialty of Assam. He also wears a garland made of Tulsi -Indian basil- leaves and stems.

The traditional bridal outfit in Assam is known as Mekhla Chadar. For weddings, it is preferred that the Mekhla Chadar is made of Muga silk and off-white in color with zari thread work. It is draped in a style similar to a traditional sari; one part is a worn skirt with pleats in the front while the other half is draped over the upper body. The bride also wears a lot of gold jewelry, including traditional handmade ornaments known as Jun Biri.

Assamese Attire

See Also:
Get to know a Bengali wedding.

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