Wedding ceremonies can be considered a very vital part of any human being. These ceremonies differ with differences in places, culture and religion. However, these ceremonies are very interesting to witness and have legendary stories and myths hidden behind it.
The Assamese community too has its own wedding rituals. Assamese weddings are generally very long and may consist of rituals for as long as five days. However, with the passage of time, the weddings have also been cut short surprisingly enough. The important and primary customs are however followed.
Pre Wedding Rituals
The pre-wedding rituals of the Assamese consist of ‘Juroon’. It is a ritual wherein the groom’s family and friends excluding the groom visit the bride’s place. The groom’s mother is greeted by the bride’s mother followed by the rest of the customs. The bride’s mother then does a few rituals such as the tel diya niyom (putting oil on the head). Hendoor diya niyom (putting vermin on the head parting), combing the hair amongst others. With this, ends the juroon ceremony. The juroon ceremony is symbolic of the welcoming of a new member into the family of the groom.
Apart from the juroon which is a combined ritual between the bride and the groom’s family, there are also other customs which are to be followed individually in the households of both the families.
The day of the wedding is a very hectic one for the Assamese people. It starts with the ‘pani tula’ custom. It is a custom wherein the ladies of the household go out to a nearby pond or lake to get water in brass or earthen pots to bathe the bride/groom. This ceremonial bath takes place amidst a lot of merriment along with the singing of ‘Biya naam’ which is a type of traditional song sung during weddings.
The custom of giving bath to the bride is known as the ‘nuani’. The bride is given a bath by her elders and young as well with turmeric, black pulse amongst others under a banana tree. The ‘nuani’ tradition is carried out to prepare the bride for her wedding.
This is followed by ‘shraddha’ which is carried out by the fathers of the bride and the groom in their respective households. This ceremony is done specially in honour of the last nine generations of the families and marks as an invitation to the departed souls to the occasion of the wedding and bless the newly married couple.
Soon after that begins the preparation in the groom’s house to visit the bride’s place and begin the wedding rituals. The groom along with his friends and family visit the bride’s house amidst dancing and singing. Firecrackers are burnt all through the way and in front of the bride’s house. Once they reach the marriage venue, lot of activities take place between the bride and groom’s side. Questions and riddles are asked, the groom’s shoes are stolen by the bride’s family and friends and the groom is not allowed to enter the venue unless a good amount of money being demanded is paid. All of this happens amidst so much merriment that it is a sight worth seeing and enjoying.
Soon the wedding ceremony starts, once the bride is also brought to the mandap in front of the sacred fire known as ‘hoom’. The entire ceremony takes around 3-4 hours with the bride’s father sitting alongside who does the ‘kanyadaan’ meaning ‘the giving away of the daughter’. The rituals once over the bride and groom are declared married and bonded for life in the sacred vow of marriage.
Post Wedding Rituals
The post wedding rituals starts with the ‘khel-dhemali’. These are fun activities and games played between the bride and the groom in order to make the moment light and bring about the festive mood to an even higher level. Different games are played like ‘angoothi lukuwa’ where a ring is hidden in a huge bowl of rice and the bride and groom are asked to find it and whoever finds it is the winner. The game takes place amidst a lot of shout and cheer.
Soon after that the groom has to do the custom of ‘maan dhora’ wherein the elders of the bride’s family blesses the newlywed and he gives gifts to them. After ‘maan-dhora’ is the bidaai of the bride which is rather a very sad and gloomy moment for the bride’s family.
Like any other wedding, the bride is then given a warm welcome to the groom’s family and they are blessed to start a new life with each other amidst trust, understanding, love and honesty. An Assamese wedding is today turning out to be a very lavish one with people not hesitating to spend lots of money. A wedding requires makeup artists, photographers, wedding planners, caterers, designers amongst others. And the wedding couple, for whom it is an investment of a lifetime, wants it to be the most memorable moment of their lives thus making it a big fat Assamese wedding.