Marriage is a divine institution and a sacred union of 2 people. It binds them into a strong bond of trust, loyalty, compatibility, respect, love and togetherness. This bond is lifelong and exclusive.
Like in all other states in India, in Assam also the people follow certain rules and rituals while conducting marriage. These are unique and different and is the torchbearer of the rich cultural heritage of the Assamese( the people of Assam) community. In Assam, the marriage is known as 'biya'. Though the basic rituals remains the same, some rituals may vary depending on different areas, ethnicities and people.The bride is known as ' koina' and the bridegroom as 'dora'. The traditional wedding song is known as ' biya naam'. Here the ladies sing different songs during different times of the wedding ceremony. There is also the chanting of ' uruli' a distinct sound which the ladies make using their tongue. Some of the important rituals of an Assamese wedding are-
Juroon - This ritual is held before the wedding ceremony takes place. This ritual is performed by the beautiful Assamese ladies of the 2 families- the bride's and the groom's. The groom's family visits the bride's home with gifts. However the groom does not participate in this ritual. The bride's mother welcomes the groom's family at the gate with a ' horai' ( a brass plate) in which betel nuts and betel leaves are covered by a 'gamusha'( a traditional hand woven cloth). The groom's mother applies 'tel' and ' sindoor ' in the bride's forehead.
Pani tula - on the morning of the wedding ceremony, the bride and the groom's mother respectively go to collect sacred water from a river, a pond or any other water body. After this both of them in their respective homes are bathed in the ceremonial bath ceremony by the sacred water collected. ' Ma halodhi' is applied and is considered to be very pure. they are thus being made ready for the wedding.
Wedding reception - in an Assamese wedding, the reception is held before the wedding takes place in the respective homes of the bride and the groom. Family, relatives, friends, well wishers all come to bless and wish them on the auspicious occasion. The bride and the groom are dressed in their best traditional outfits. Their homes are beautifully decorated. Traditional Assamese cuisine along with other dishes are also being served to the guests. All in all it's a beautiful and grand affair.
Arrival of the groom - After the reception, both the families excitedly get ready for the main and important wedding ritual. The groom along with his family, relatives and friends come to the bride's home. He is dressed in traditional dhoti, kurta, and a silk shawl over his shoulder. One of his friend carries an umbrella over the groom's head and is dressed similarly. The arrival of the groom calls for a lot of merriment and fun activities in the bride's home. The groom is reprimanded at the gate and asked questions, only than he is allowed to go inside after paying a price. This are all done in fun and humour.
The wedding ceremony - the groom is welcomed by the bride's family. The bride's younger sister washes his feet and for that she is rewarded by the groom himself. The groom is than lifted by a male member of the bride's family and taken to the wedding hall. The bride who is by the time ready in her room, is dressed in traditional 'mekhela sador'. She is also lifted and carried in the wedding hall. Both of them now sit facing the sacred fire in the Mandap. There the priest chant mantras and vows are taken. There is a ritual known as 'akhoi tula' where the bride's brother hands her akhoi and she emerges it into the sacred fire. The bride's father performs the kanyadaan. After this rituals are over, the bride touches her husband's feet and they enter into holy matrimony.
Post marriage activities - after the wedding ceremony is over, it is time for some fun activities. There are certain games being played like a ring would be immersed in a bowl of rice and whoever between the bride and groom is able to find it will have a greater say in the marriage!! Such other games are played.
After all this it is time for the bride to leave her parents home. Meanwhile the groom's mother eagerly waits to welcome her daughter-in-law.