We are sure that 29 states of India have 29 different kinds of weddings. Today we feature one of a kind, the one which we have seen the most in our growing up years.
Just like the rest of the Indians, the Assamese wedding also have numerous customs and rituals followed by the various castes, tribes. The rituals and customs described below are followed by majority of the people, if not all.
The day preceding the wedding is the ‘Jurun’. Before the Jurun, the bride’s hands are decorated using mehendi. The mehendi is not a custom, nor does it involve any elaborate function /celebration. But now-a –days , people have started hosting mehendi functions where the bride’s friends come, apply mehendi , dance and make merry.
The next day is the ‘Jurun’, which is hosted by the bride’s family. This is considered the most important event in an Assamese wedding. The groom’s family , specially ladies come to the bride’s place .The bride’s mother then welcomes the groom’s family with a xorai ( a brass utensil), filled with betel leaves and betel nuts, covered with a gamusa.
The bride, along with the ladies of the groom’s family then sit on the floor, near a rangoli which is surrounded by an arrangement of four small banana plants. The groom’s mother then gifts the bride a host of things, which include – the wedding attire, the bridal trousseau, different forms of jewellery and a makeup kit. The ‘sador’ of the white and golden wedding attire is put on the bride over her dress. This is done in front of a mirror so that the bride can see how she looks with the new jewelry and the bridal attire. The groom’s family offers a host of other things as well, like a big packet of assorted sweets , a pair of coconut, earthen pots filled with rice, and even a big fish that is meant for the bride’s family. All the items are touched by the groom before being packed and are touched by the bride once she accepts those.
This is followed by the ladies of the groom’s family applying a little oil on the bride’s head. The groom’s mother then applies vermillion on the bride’s forehead, which can be very surprising to people of other places as this custom is followed only in this part of the country . This is considered to be very auspicious. Once all the gifts have been received, the bride takes the blessings of everyone present, specially the elders, who provide their blessings along with gifts like money or jewelry or clothes.
This is followed by a feast involving both the families and their friends. Then the groom’s family leaves and the bride’s family sends a return gift for the groom which includes the wedding attire, shoes, shaving kit, handkerchiefs, etc. The return gift also includes half the items that the groom’s family got for the bride’s family (excluding the gifts meant specially for the bride).
Next day is the wedding. The bride and her parents fast that day. The first thing in the morning is nau purukhor shraddha (shraddh of the past 9 generations). This can be done by the father of the bride or her paternal uncles, because the father is generally too busy with the arrangements for the reception party the same evening. The same ceremony takes place in the groom’s house.
This is followed by the panitula ceremony, where the mother of the bride, along with other ladies go to a nearby river/pond/lake and fetch water from there in earthen pots. They sing songs, known as biya naam and also dance on the way.
Once the ladies return from the ‘panitula’, they keep the pots near the place where the shraddha took place and the priest makes the water sacred. This ceremony also happens in the groom’s house as well. This is followed by ‘nuoni’ (bathing), where the bride / groom are made to sit near a banana plant in their respective houses. The mother and other lady relatives then put auspicious things on the bride/groom like oil, curd ,turmeric and lentil pastes. And then the sacred water is poured on the bride/groom.
The banana tree is used almost everywhere as it is sacred according to Assamese customs.
The bride then gets ready for her wedding reception party. The party goes on till around 10 pm, where the neighbours, friends, acquaintances and relatives enjoy a feast and bless the bride. The bride greets the guests with saunf, which is placed on a small bota( a brass utensil)
The groom arrives between 10 pm -12 pm ,and is welcomed by the bride’s father . The bride’s sister washes the feet of the groom, and this is when the girls of the bride’s side attempt to steal the groom’s shoes.
The groom is then made to sit near the auspicious fire. The groom is accompanied by the ‘dora-dhora’(best man) who plays a very crucial role as he never leaves the groom’s side throughout the entire ceremony.
Meanwhile, the bride gets ready for the wedding by wearing the white and golden wedding attire that was given by the groom’s family on the day of the jurun.
The groom and the bride’s father start the wedding process with many rituals. Neither the bride’s mother nor the groom’s mother take part in the wedding ceremony.
When the bride is required at the altar, the ladies of the groom’s family come and invite her to the wedding area. The bride is carried to the altar by her maternal uncle , and then she takes a seat next to the groom. The father of the bride also sits beside them and the wedding rituals continue near the fire. Kanyadaan takes place. This is followed by akhoy tula , where the bride’s brother gives her puffed rice, and she puts it into the fire. The pheras take place subsequently, where the couple goes around the fire 7 times. These rituals take 2-3 hours. Garland exchange is done by few people, while most don’t do it.
Once these rituals end, the bride and groom are taken to a room where the bride’s mother feeds them payas (rice kheer) and a few games are played (like finding the ring), etc. The bride then leaves with the groom to the groom’s house, where the groom’s mother pours water on the bride’s feet, and welcomes her warmly with the aarti thali . The bride enters the groom’s home by breaking an earthen diya with her feet. Then groom’s mother feeds them payas and a few games are played here as well . The bride then leaves for her home and stays there till the aathmongola.
Aathmongola is a ceremony where the groom goes to the bride’s house with few of his friends and cousins and there is a feast prepared for them that involves minimum of 8 items. At the end of this day, the bride moves to her husband’s place.
The concept of dowry is alien to Assamese weddings. The bride might choose to take anything she finds necessary or if she has the need, but it is not a mandate.
Hope you enjoyed reading all about a typical Assamese wedding as much as we loved writing it for you.