The Assamese wedding is a very elegant affair. With the ubiquitous, Mekhela-Chador-clad women hovering around and marigolds scattered everywhere, exuding the vibes of a typical Assamese wedding scene, traditions hold quite a lot of importance in the Assamese community. Age-old customs which are practiced till date, all of them together form the lifeline of an Assamese nuptial ceremony.
There are scientific reasons behind the Assamese wedding rituals, which are practiced, giving importance to science over superstitions.
The Assamese Wedding Ritual of ‘Paani Tula’: Use of River Water
Paani Tula is a ritual associated with fun, excitement and laughter. Women in an Assamese wedding are always ready to hold a pot by their side and participate in ‘Paani Tula’. They would sing ‘biya naam’ (wedding songs) and depart in a group to draw water from the river in a stipulated time on the day of the wedding. River water is used for the ceremonial bath of the bride and the groom, but why is only river water used? No, not because the tributaries of the Brahmaputra flow in the whole of Assam but because of a certain scientific reason. River water (although polluted today), is fresh water that flows endlessly, and it is not stagnant. Earlier, the water that was supposed to be used for the ceremonial bath was taken even before crows would take a sip from the river in the morning.
Maah-Halodhi: A Wonder Scrub
Maah-Halodhi (the paste of black gram and turmeric) is something an Assamese wedding cannot do without. An essential part of the ceremonial bath; it is not only a wonder scrub, but also the very fragrance of a ‘biya’ (Assamese wedding). Not to be surprised, many other communities too use turmeric for the ceremonial bath of the bride and groom. There is a scientific reason behind the Assamese wedding ritual of applying Maah-Halodhi to both the bride and groom on the wedding day. Certainly, it gives the bride a bridal glow! But, there is more to it. While Black Gram is known to combat aging symptoms, it makes the hair silky and shiny as well. Turmeric has antiseptic properties and gives a fresh glow to the skin. It acts as a detoxifier and cleanses the body, and also helps the bride and groom feel relaxed in the humdrum of their marriage. Turmeric helps in saying ‘No’ to anxiety and symbolically cleanses the couple before stepping into a new life. No wonder, both the bride and groom look ethereal on their wedding day!
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‘Jetuka’: A Magical Herb
‘Jetuka’ or ‘Mehendi’ is used to draw beautiful patterns on a bride’s hand. Jetuka is nothing but the leaves of the Henna plant, known for its Ayurvedic importance. Although the Mehendi bought from the market has started replacing the raw Jetuka leaves today, have you ever wondered the reason behind applying Jetuka on an Assamese bride’s hand (and most of the times, on the feet too)? Henna is known to lend a unique colour but besides lending colour, it is also a medicinal herb. Applying Jetuka on the hands and legs cools down the body and prevents the nerves from becoming tense, keeping stress away to a great extent. The excitement and nervousness about the wedding can take a toll on the health of the bride and Jetuka helps to keep the stress under control. Surprised, right?
Why is Oil Used during Juroon?
Juroon is the gifting ceremony that is held in an Assamese bride’s household. The groom’s near and dear ones, accompanied by the groom’s mother, arrive at the bride’s place a day or a couple of days before the wedding day. They gift the bride the wedding trousseau and everything else that a woman needs to adorn herself with. The groom’s mother also applies sindoor (vermilion) on the bride’s head, marking the beginning of the ceremony. But why is oil poured in the parting of the bride’s hair? Ever wondered about it? Well, oil is known to nourish the roots of the hair and soothe a person to the core. The anxiety and nervousness of the marriage can be quite a lot to handle for a bride, who leaves her father’s home and moves to another. The pouring of oil not only relaxes her completely but makes her feel pampered as well. It helps to lessen the inhibitions and soothe the nerves to a great extent.
Tulsi Garland: The Groom’s Crown
Tulsi (Basil) leaves have a special significance among Assamese wedding rituals. Religion says that the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu was impressed by the devotion and righteousness of Tulsi Devi and blessed her saying that she would adorn his head forever. He also promised to marry her every year on a certain day in the month of Kartik. This is how wearing a Tulsi Mala (garland) became significant in Assamese weddings. Grooms would wear a garland made of Tulsi leaves, in praise of Lord Vishnu, and it would adorn their head during their marriage. But the scientific reason behind wearing a Tulsi Mala is that it reduces stress and keeps the groom calm during his nuptial ceremony. No wonder an Assamese groom always behaves like a gentleman, calm and pacified throughout the ceremony.
An Assamese wedding is a great sight to behold. Where laughter prevails and traditions are upheld, its customs are not just superstitions and beliefs. To know more about the simple and graceful Assamese wedding, visit one very soon! Enjoy the lively ambience, watch the Assamese wedding rituals take place, listen to the ‘biya naam’ and take delight in the delectable delicacies served to the guests.
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