India is a land of cultural ethnicity, where you can witness a plethora of rituals, customs and traditions in Indian Marriages, as you travel across the length and breadth of the subcontinent. These colorful rituals and customs vary as per religion and region of the various parts of country; however, you may find similar rituals being followed region wise. Similar is the Assam matrimony, which is a collection of those beautiful pre-wedding and post wedding customs and rituals.
Assam Matrimonial or wedding in Assam is known as “Biya”, which starts with the groom’s father performing “Nau-Purush Sharadha” giving respect to last nine generation ancestors from the groom’s paternal side and the last three generations from the groom’s maternal side.
Pani Tula and Nuani: After the “Nau-Purush Sharadha”, the family members of both sides seek blessings from the priest and get prepared to collect sacred water from the groom’s ceremonial bath, otherwise known as “Pani Tula” in Assamese. The sacred water is collected by groom’s mother and the other women from a nearby river or pond. A brass stand or DULONI is prepared which contains a lighted Saki or lamp over some rice grains, a pair of betel nut and leaves, a coin and a knife. The sacred water is carried in five earthen vessels, each covered with five mango leaves and women sing Biya Naam or wedding songs, while making a special sound by rolling the tongue inside, named as Uluni. The sacred water is added to the bathing water of the groom to take bath, also called as Nuani (ceremonial bath).
Juran: The interesting and fun filled pre-marriage ceremony is carried out one or two days before the wedding, and is performed by women of the house. Groom’s mother and female relatives visit bride’s house and greet the bride by applying Sindoor (holy vermilion) on the bride’s hair partition. The BRIDAL TROUSSEAU including pairs of Mekhela Chadar (traditional Assamese female attire made up of silk), make up kit and gold ornaments are gifted to the bride by her mother-in-law.
Arrival of the Groom: The most exciting and fun filled part of the Assam matrimony is the time when groom arrives to get his bride. The groom then needs to pay some gifts or money as a token of blessings and love to bride’s sisters and friends to get in. After various fun activities and paying a heavy price, the marriage procession is allowed to enter into the bride’s home.
Assam Matrimonial Ceremony: The groom is warmly welcomed by bride’s mother. Royal treatment is given to the groom where the bride’s younger sisters wash the groom’s feet. However, the groom is forced again to pay a hefty sum or an expensive gift to his sister-in-law in lieu of washing the feet. The groom is then lifted by the bride’s brother, who takes him to the wedding hall and the bride enters the Mandap on the shoulder of her maternal uncle. The groom is dressed in Dhoti, Kurta and silk shawl, while the bride dons the Mekhela Chadar gifted by her mother-in-law.
The couple is then given Panchamrit. The bride and groom then exchange garlands and take vows amidst chanting mantras. The Assam matrimony takes place in front of the sacred fire and amidst sacred sound of blowing conch shells. Wedding concludes with the groom putting vermilion in bride’s forehead. The bride leaves her parent’s house and goes with groom to his house, where they are welcomed by groom’s family members. Reception is conducted to bless the newlywed couple and in the honor of the bride, where relatives and friends gather and share a good time with the newlyweds and gorge on lip smacking cuisines.
Assam matrimony is a part of Hindu matrimony, with similar rituals and customs. The only difference being the regional impact on the rituals.