Traditional Assamese Marriage
Frankly speaking, I would narrate about my marriage with Bijay Lakhi Sarma (Chumki).
A traditional Assamese marriage may span across to 2-3 days depending upon the time availability of both the bride and the groom, along with the relatives. Mine was a 2 day affair since I had some time, though not enough . I would just provide a glimpse of what had happened during that course. This is the sequence I had followed.
1. Na-Purush’r Sardha (Re-calling our 9 generation of ancestors):
This normally takes place on the day of the marriage, but in my case it was carried out 2 days before. This is one of the special ceremony which is carried out in hon-our of our last nine generation ancestors from the groom’s father side and the last three generations from the mother’s side. Puja is being held wherein the priest chants his prayers and I am suppose to repeat after him. There will be 3 Duna’s (special vessel made from peal of Banana tree) for the groom’s father side ancestor’s while the other 2 for the mother’s side. All the Duna’s will be filled with rice, vegetables, Dhoti, Gamusa (assamese traditional towel) and Logoon (thread) while one of them with be filled with Chadar (assamese female cloth, for grand mother’s) instead of Dhoti. After all the puja, you need to take the blessings from you ancestors for the marriage.
Juroon is a pre-marriage ceremony which was carried one 1 day in advance. This is normally an ladies affair and men seldom take part in it. The main ocassion is that the groom’s mother along with her close relatives/friends visit’s the bride’s house and apply Sindoor (Vermilion) to the bride along with showering gifts to her. Gifts would include the main bridal trousseau (Mekhela Chadar), which the bride is suppose to wear on the marriage day along with other items. These may include a make-up kit, earthen pots, fish, sweets, betal nuts and leaves, tumeric etc.
Before the groom’s mother leaves the house, it is customer for the groom to touch all this items so that the same can be given to the bride. This is an essential part of the ritual.
The journey starts from the groom’s house to the bride’s place. All along the way people will be singing Biya Naam (Wedding songs). Once they reach the bride’s house the groom’s mom is welcomed by the bride’s mom at the very entrance of their place with Sarai and Bota, containing Tamul (Beetal Nut) Paan (Leaves) covered by a Gamosa. Earthen lamps and incense sticks are lighted on this occasion.
The bride arrives and occupies the center stage. Her face and head is covered by Chadar and is accompanied normally by her relatives and close friends. The main ritual starts with the groom’s mother applying Sindoor to her forehead by parting her front hair. Oil is also applied to her through a ring and bettel nut. This is the first time that the bride will have Sindoor and from now on, she goes on applying Sindoor to her forehead.
Gifts in the form of ornaments etc. are being showered to her during this time and the bride is worn with all these therein. The bride is shown her face on the small mirror which the groom’s mother brought with her. The items which were touched by the groom are being gifted to her wherein she also touches the same, which indicates that the gifts have been accepted by her. All these things are then equally divided in two parts, one of which is left behind in the bride’s house while the other part carried back.
As a token of gratitude the bride’s mom is being presented with Mekhela Chadar.
Refreshment is being served and as the groom’s family plans to return back, the bride touches first touches the feet of the groom’s parents. Normally she will be given ornaments by the groom’s parents or else money.
3. Pani Tula:
Groom’s mom and the other women mostly relatives and friends go to a river, well or a pond nearby to collect the water. A Duloni (Brass Stand)is prepared which contains a lighted Saki (Earthen Lamp) over a heap of the same rice grain which was brought back from the bride’s house during Juroon ceremony, one pair of tamul-pan(betel nut and leaves), a coin and a knife. Ladies sing Biya Naam (Wedding songs) and Uruli (Special sound made by rolling the tongue inside the mouth).The group the proceeds to the river, well or the pond. Once done the group returns without looking back at the river site. The groom’s mom also carries a water in her mouth from the same place to the house.
The coin is given to the groom and is to be kept very safely while the knife is tied to one end of the Gamusa and is to be carried everywhere by the groom till the marriage gets over.
The groom’s mom sprinkles little water from the vessel at her house. The ceremonial bath is about to take place.
The groom follows his mom by holding an end of a Gamusa while his mom holds another end. Both the groom along with his mother takes 3 rounds, with one of his small cousin sprinkling Dahi to the groom, around the Kol-Pulli (Freshly planted small banana tree). The ladies keep the vessels on the ground and the groom sits on a special seat.
The ceremony starts with the mother applying oil, curd and a paste of Mah-Haladhi (Urad lentils and Turmeric) the same process is followed by all the ladies present .Once this round is completed the groom’s mom pours the sacred water from the vessel over the groom’s head and again this process is followed by all the ladies present.
The marriage starts with the groom being dresses up in traditional Dhoti, Kurta and Cheleng (Assamese form of a Shawl). All this items are being given by the bride. The groom is suppose to wear a flower and a Indian Basil Wreath. As he ventures out of the house, his mother tries to stop him with a cloth, and he is suppose to peep in through the gap between door and the cloth. After 3 instances the mother allows him to move out. In an Assamese marriage, the the groom’s mom is not allowed to see the marriage of his son. She will be there preparing the house for the new lady. Though this is a very happy occasion as far as the groom’s parents are concerned, but still tears roll down the cheeks of the parents, since the love and affection that he had given to his parents will now part with his wife.
Therein the groom starts his journey to the bride’s place with his best friend by his side and sisters on the other. On arrival the groom’s family is welcomed with rice being thrown by the bride’s family. His friend is suppose to held and umbrella to save his mate from being hit. After things settled down and the bride’s mother performs an Aarti of the groom to welcome him into the home. The bride’s sister washes his feet.
As per Hindu norms, the wedding starts with the worship of Lord Shiva. The priest chants his Slokas in Sanskrit and the groom repeats it. This is followed by a remarkable entry of the bride on the shoulders of her uncle. The ceremony takes place in front of the sacred fire, with Ghee being poured into the fire. The couple exchange garlands and takes vows amidst chanting mantras.
After all the ceremonies are over, the bride and the groom pay their respects to their ancestors, and then to all of the elders present. Then the bride returns back to this house along with his newly wedded wife.
As she reaches her husband’s place, her feet is being washed at the entrance by one small child and enters the house after breaking a Saki (Earthen lamp) with her feet and finding a small coin from the Kaloh (Earthen pot) filled with water.
5. Khuba Khubi:
This is a ritual that is followed in the third day after the marriage is being held, at the bride’s place. A priest is being called and he narrates a story about two Hindu Godess, Khuba and Khubuni. You take the blessings from them for a successful married life. After this ritual only the groom is allowed to sleep with his bride.
This is the last ritual that happens in the Assamese marriage. This is the eight day of the marriage wherein the groom and his wife would first time visit his in-law’s and have food there. He is normally being accompanied by his friends and relatives, in a small number.
Though it a long affair and you feel tired, but one still enjoys it, as I have done.