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Exploring Assamese Wedding Rituals

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India is a diverse country with varied cultures and traditions. It is only natural that weddings are performed differently in different cultures. And there is no better opportunity to understand culture and traditions of a select group than to visit a traditional wedding. Assamese weddings are what we are exploring in this article. ‘Biya’ as they are generally referred to in their local language is characterized by some pre-wedding and wedding rituals. They are carried out over a period of two-three days and are full of color and festivities and bear a strong cultural influence. One of the unique features of these weddings is the traditional ‘Biya geet’ or ‘Biya naam,’ which are traditional songs sung by the women of the Assamese community throughout the wedding festivities.

A glimpse into a traditional ‘Biya’ is given below:

Before the start of any rituals for the wedding, a string of mango leaves is tied on every door of the house. This is thought to ward off any evil intention or negative energy – which is called ‘aam dali gotha.’ With the auspicious setting, Juran Diya follows. The thought behind this ceremony is to shower the ‘bride to be’ with gifts. During the ceremony, the groom’s mother visits the bride’s family with a number of female relatives and presents her with gifts – the wedding attire, makeup, and jewelry. The groom first touches everything given to the bride!

A part of the Juran Diya is Tel Diya ceremony where a ring and a betel nut are placed on the bride’s hair by the mother of the groom. Oil is poured over this thrice, and vermillion is applied. Interestingly, in Assamese weddings, this is the only time vermillion or sindoor is applied. The husband does not apply the sindoor. Only mom-in-law does. Equivalent to ‘Ghadoli’ in Punjabi weddings is the custom of ‘Pani Tola.’ Both the mothers gather water from a nearby pond or river for a ceremonial bath before the wedding. A coin and a knife are given to the ‘soon to be a couple,’ which have to be carried everywhere with them until the wedding is concluded.

For the sacred bath, both the bride and the groom at their respective places are made to sit on seats created with four young banana plants. Oil, a paste of lentils, curd, and turmeric, are applied on their heads, and the ceremony is concluded with sacred water being poured on their heads.

On the day of the wedding, the Assamese groom, ready in his attire gifted by the bride’s family, arrives at the place of the wedding. Interestingly, it is considered inauspicious for the mother of the groom to be a part of the ceremony! So, she leaves before the wedding concludes.

Weddings are more than just ceremonies. They are a culmination of two families and, especially the bride and the groom, who are embarking on their journey towards  matrimonial  bliss! Although weddings across the country may seem different, they all seek to celebrate the union of the two souls – they are full of joy, celebrations, and love for the new couple for their ever-lasting love and companionship!

Significance of Solah Shringaar

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Solah Shringar is said to enhance the beauty of the Indian bride during matrimony. The number 16 (Solah) is supposed to correspond to the various phases of the moon and Shringar is derived from ‘Shri’, Lakshmi. Matrimonial sites are now focusing on educating the modern woman about ancient traditions and embrace them.

1. Bindi:

It is the coloured red dot that women wear at the centre of their forehead; said to symbolise the elusive third eye-for wisdom, luck and prosperity.

2. Sindoor:

A red-coloured powder (usually kumkum) applied on the parting of the hair, considered auspicious for the well-being of her Indian groom.

3. Maang Tika:

The first piece of jewellery that goes on the Indian bride’s body, applied to the parting of the hair with a chain attached to the hair.

4. Kajal or Anjana:

A black dye preparation, generally applied to the eyes, said to protect and provide a cooling effect, accentuate the shape and beauty of her eyes and make it more alluring.

5. Nath:

Nath is worn through the left nostril by the bride on wedding and other auspicious occasions, sometimes with a chain that extends behind the left ear.

6. Karn Phool:

This is a must in an Indian bride’s matrimonial attire. Earrings usually elaborate, comes as a set with the bridal necklace.

7. Haar:

The Haar is to be worn around the neck, could be Sita-Haar, Choker. The most traditional haar is the mangalsutra, given by the husband on the matrimonial day and made of black beads.

8. Mehendi:

Applied to decorate the hands and feet of the Indian bride. The richness of the colour symbolizes luck, prosperity and fertility and provides a soothing effect on the skin.

9. Bajubandh:

The bajuband is an ornament to be worn on the upper arms, to have a slenderising effect on the arms.

10. Bangles:

Bangles are to be worn in forearms by the bride and come in variety of shapes and designs and materials.

11. Aarsi and Haathful:

Haathful comprises of four or five rings worn on the arm fingers with chains attaching them to a bracelet. Aarsi is a traditional thumb ring studded with a mirror, to allow the bride catch a glimpse of her groom in it.

12. Kamarbandh:

A gold or silver belt meant for the bride to wear around her waist. Traditionally, this was an ornament to secure the saree and emphasise the slenderness of her waist.

13. Payals:

Chains worn around the ankles, could be a simple or elaborate, may have a bunch of chiming beads attached. Wearing gold on feet is considered to be inauspicious, payals are made of silver.

14. Bichhua:

This is mostly worn on the second toe of the left feet, said to enhance fertility in married women and made of silver.

15. Fragrance/Sugandh:

Applied to the bride to smell pleasant throughout the wedding ritual, meant to soothe her nerves.

16. Keshapasharachana:

Traditionally, the hair bun is adorned with fresh, fragrant flowers along with other hair adornments, preferable gold.

How to impress an Aries Indian Bride

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Aries, is a fire sign, ruled by the war God Mars, symbolised by iron as the ruling metal and diamond as the birthstone! For the  Indian groom out there, wanting to join with this woman in holy matrimony, some food for thought! Not many matrimonial sites  will help you get an insight, so here goes – fire is heat, energy and purifier, Mars fights evil, Iron is tough and pure and so is diamond.

If the above is metaphorically translated, the Indian bride born under this sign, is strong-headed, energetic, stands up against injustice, frank and pure at heart. So, to understand her, handle her and forge an ever-lasting relationship, you need to:

1. Respect her as an equal, her interests (even if they don’t match yours), respect her personal space and in turn WIN her respect; never demand it.

Aries is a sign of pride, which many mistake as ego. Therefore, before anything else, she values respect as to her that is synonymous with pride. She believes where there is no mutual respect, there cannot be foundation of a relationship. She respects a man who can firmly but politely reason with her, counter her impulsiveness with calm logic, be a patient listener, be empathic to her point of view and negotiate disagreements. If you can logically prove her wrong, you have not only cleared the disagreement but won over heart.

2. Be frank and open conversationalist.  Being frank and open herself, she appreciates this quality, will value the trust you place in her, will help understand and try help you solve your problems and will be happy to share her thoughts and her life problems with you. She enjoys a positive give and take relationship on an emotional and spiritual level.

3. Ensure never to give her any reason to be jealous or suspicious. Aries girl is fiercely protective of her near and dear ones. Give her any reason to be hurt or humiliated and chances are her warm feelings towards you will turn into cold anger, shutting you out. You, on the other hand, are not allowed to feel jealous. She trusts you completely and she expects the same in return.

4. She can be energetic at times and quite lazy at others when her fire burns out. Understand that, give her space (Aries woman requires plenty of space) and let her recharge her batteries; when she comes back all recharged, be prepared to handle the fire and energy!

5. Strike the fine balance of being a man and a gentleman – neither too rough nor too soft;

This strong-headed yet warm-hearted Indian bride will give her heart and soul to her matrimony, will ensure everything runs clockwork and balanced, family never lacks fairness, warmth, love, care, will be fiercely loyal, supportive and protective of you, will not tolerate injustice, frank in her opinion (which may cut but will always be the truth that eventually brings the best out of you).

Do Not Try to Change Your Spouse, Embrace Them for Who They Are

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No human being is perfect, every person in this world has multiple flaws in their character, even you and you cannot deny this fact. Therefore, it means that the person you are married to isn’t perfect either, and they have their own sets of flaws. So, what do you do when you come across a flaw in your spouse? Do you lash out them? Do you nicely ask them to change the habit or behaviour that you consider a flaw? Or do you do nothing?

A lot of people will be inclined to choose the second option, when you do not like something your spouse does or says, asking them not to do it anymore seems like a reasonable thing to do, and make no mistake, it is alright to do that. But, is it the proper thing to do? The answer is no. What you need to understand is that change is not something that happens overnight, and in some cases, it may not happen at all. It is not the fault of your spouse if they cannot change the way you want them to, they might be really trying hard, and you probably would not have realized it, or maybe they were not trying hard enough because they did not want to change. And they cannot be found at fault in both the cases.

First of all, it is you who wants them to change and they are not doing it out of their own will. Changing a character trait is no simple thing, unless and until the person really wants to bring about the change, there is no chance of it happening. So, forcing your partner to do something they do not want to do in the first place is of no use at all. Secondly, remember what love is about? It is all about loving every little part of each other, both the good and the bad which means that you have to embrace each other’s flaws. Otherwise, you need not be together at all. What is love without acceptance? And what is a matrimony without love?

Yes, obviously it is not going to be easy. Your spouse may do or say a lot of things that might irritate you, even drive you nuts, but this is the place you have to apply one of the key principles of every successful marriage – compromise. It starts by accepting the fact that whatever you do, you cannot change your spouse, because however long you search, no matrimonial site is going to help you find a spouse who has no fault at all. And once you accept that fact, you will automatically move on towards embracing your partner for who they are. Once you do that, you might start feeling the change yourself. The things that made you feel like going on a rampage before will no longer even bother you. In fact, you may find yourself laughing at how silly you were to have lost your cool about something so trivial. Indian Brides  and Grooms may benefit a lot from following this simple thing as arranged marriages mean you often have little or no time to know your partner before you have already tied the knot.

How to Become a Man of Her Dreams?

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The common notion of a dream man is someone with a fully ripped six packs body, a Greek God like face, a deep voice, etc. And that is how all men want to be because they think this is what women want. The question to be asked is, “Is that really what women look for in an  Indian Groom?” The honest answer would be no.

Most women are romantics, they might not show it outside, but on the inside, they crave a partner who is as romantically inclined as them. A partner who knows what intimacy is. A partner who can understand their emotions and respond to it accordingly. The problem is, the society does not paint guys who have all the above qualities as dream men, and popular media has helped propagate the false notion even further. After all, when was the last time you saw an Indian movie where the hero wasn’t sporting six pack and could do all those so-called ‘manly’ things such as beating up a bunch of guys effortlessly? Think hard, and you will still struggle to come up with a name.

It is not just the movies; even advertisements have done a lot of damage. One of the most popular deodorant brands in the country sells its products by showing sturdy half-naked men wooing girls with their physique. You cannot change the way the society or the media represents the dream man, but you can change yourself by following a few simple guidelines before you start browsing matrimonial sites  for the perfect bride.

Tell her ‘I love you.’

“I love you” is perhaps the most powerful short sentence that you can say to anyone. It is like a tender kiss; it gives happiness to both the person who says it and the one who hears. So, tell her you love her every time you get an opportunity to do so but do not just stop with that, show her you mean what you say. She is never going to get tired of hearing those three words if you do so.

Be there for her and the marriage

A wedding may get over once you put a ring on her finger or tie the knot around her neck, but it is the beginning of your marriage. A matrimony requires much time and effort for it to be successful. You are allowed to have your own personal time, but it should not be at the cost of the time you spend with her. Be there for all her ups and downs, the big ones and the small ones, after all that is what a marriage is about.

You reap what you sow.

Sow the seeds of respect, care, kind words, intimacy, thoughtfulness and acts of tenderness. Basically, just give her a chance to be in a meaningful relationship that keeps her happy and content. A woman wants nothing more from her man. And if you do all that, you will most definitely be the man of her dreams.