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As is found in most of the Indian regions and states, the state of Assam also has its belief in the system of marriage, which is done in accordance to different kinds of Vedic rituals and traditions. Marriage ceremony in Assamese is known as “Biya” and carries along with it a beautiful conglomeration of rituals and ceremonies, which are sure to give a special meaning to the occasion. Like in most marriages, the Assamese wedding also comprises of certain preparations and rituals leading up to the final day of wedding. Post wedding ceremonies are also of importance, as it denotes the acceptance of the newlywed bride into the family of the groom.
Pre-Wedding Rituals in Assamese Wedding
Juran Diya is the first ritual leading up to the Assamese wedding, in which there is participation from the women in the family. It is held before the day of wedding in which the mother of the bride welcomes the mother and other relatives of the groom with a brass plate, xhorai, over which are arranged the betel leaves and betel nuts, covered by a gamocha. In return, the mother of the groom gives gifts to the bride as well as her mother.
Considered to be one of the most important rituals in Assamese wedding, Tel Diya is supposed to be done by groom’s mother. In this ritual, the groom’s mother places betel leaves and ring on the head of the bride, where the hair partition is present. Then oil is poured over the leaves and sindoor is applied at this place and gifts the wedding trousseau to the bride.
Pani Tola and Nuani
This is the ceremonial bath with sacred water done for both the bride and groom by their mothers. This is considered to be done in preparation to get ready for the wedding.
Assamese Wedding Rituals
A number of ceremonies are required to be done on the marriage day in Assamese wedding. The first ritual starts early in the day and then has sumptuous food served to the guests as the ceremonies get over.
Daiyan Diya is a traditional ritual in Assam which is done in the early part of the day. This term means curd which is sent over to the house of the bride from the groom’s. Half of this curd is eaten by the bride and the rest is returned back to the house of the groom.
This ceremony is held on the day of the wedding, where the major role is played by the fathers of the groom and the bride. It is conducted to honour the nine generations of the groom families and seeks blessings for the auspicious occasion.
Assamese wedding is marked by the ceremonial bath, for which the mothers of the bride and groom visit the nearby river or pond and collect water to bath their respective children.
In Assamese wedding ceremony, the reception to the guests is given before the marriage ceremony. Traditionally, the reception is held with servings of curd, rice and jaggery. But, in the modern days, the reception is quite lavishly done with various kinds of food items.
Arrival of the Groom
After the reception or during this is being done, the groom’s arrival at the marriage venue is awaited. The groom arrives with a pompous procession, but has to enter the venue with a price, while the occasion is marked by lots of fun and song and dance. Groom is attired in white dhoti, kurta and the silk shawl draped over the shoulders.
Wedding Ceremony Proper
This is one of the most attractive features of the Assamese wedding. As soon as the groom arrives, the bride’s mother washes the feet of the groom, which is also done by the sister of the bride. Then, the bride’s brothers lift him and take him to the mandap. Similarly, bride is carried into the mandap on the shoulder of her elder brother. In the mandap, the rituals of Assamese wedding are completed quickly with certain steps. Facing the sacred fire, the groom and bride sit down and garland each other amidst the chanting of Vedic mantras. Vows are taken in front of the sacred fire. Ladies gathered around simultaneously blow at the conch shells. Sindoor is applied by the groom on the forehead of the bride. This marks the ending of the rituals of the wedding and the newly wedded couple is blessed by the relatives and guests present.
After the entire process of wedding is over, the groom then takes his newlywed wife to his home, where the bride is welcomed by his mother, with the traditional aarti.