Culture of Assam

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Description

Assam is the meeting ground of diverse cultures. The people of the enchanting state of Assam are an intermixture of various racial stocks such as Mongoloid, Indo-Burmese, Indo-Iranian and Aryan. The Assamese culture is a rich and exotic tapestry of all these races evolved through a long assimilative process. The natives of the state of Assam are known as "Asomiya" (Assamese), which is also the state language of Assam. The state has a large number of tribes, each unique in its tradition, culture, dress and exotic way of life.

Diverse tribes like Bodo, Kachari, Karbi, Miri, Mishimi, Rabha, etc co-exist in Assam; most tribes have their own languages though Assamese is the principal language of the state. A majority of the Assamese are Vaishnavas (a sect of Hinduism). The Vaishnavas do not believe in idol worshiping and perform "Naamkirtana", where the glory of Lord Vishnu is recited. The two important cultural and religious institutions that influence the cultural fabric of Assam: the "Satras", the site of religious and cultural practice which have been in existence for over 400 years and the "Naamghar", the house of prayers. Villagers generally associate on the basis of membership of a local Centre of devotional worship called "Naamghar". Villages are usually made up of families from a number of distinct castes.

In Assam, the caste system, although it exists, is not as prominent as in other parts of India. Other religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam etc. are also practiced in Assam. The state festival of Assam is the Bihu which is celebrated in three parts during a year with great pomp and grandeur by all Assamese, irrespective of caste, creed or religion. There are various elements which are being used to represent beliefs, feelings, pride, identity, etc and are considered as important symbolic elements in Assamese culture. The quintessential symbols are the Asomiya"Gamucha", "Jaapi", "TamulPaan" and "Xorai". Traditional attire worn by women called the "Mekhela Chador" and Assamese jewellery also form an integral part of the Assamese culture.

Gamucha

The "Gamucha" is one of the most easily recognizable cultural symbols of the Assamese people and is an integral part of almost all socio-religious ceremonies. It is considered as an honorary piece of cloth commonly used for felicitation...

The "Gamucha" is one of the most easily recognizable cultural symbols of the Assamese people and is an integral part of almost all socio-religious ceremonies. It is considered as an honorary piece of cloth commonly used for felicitation in Assam.

Gamucha, an honorary piece of cloth commonly used for Felicitation in Assam

The "Gamucha", a white rectangular piece of cotton hand woven cloth with primarily a red border on three sides and red woven motifs on the fourth (in addition to red, other colors are also used) is put to many uses. It is used as a towel, as a waistcloth or a loincloth; a Bihu dancer wraps it around the head in a knot, it is also hung around the neck at the prayer hall and thrown over the shoulder to signify social status or respect. "Gamucha"s", also known as "Bihuwaans", are offered during Bihu as a token of love. Significantly the "Gamucha" is used equally by all, irrespective of religious and ethnic backgrounds.

Tamul Paan

"Tamul Paan" (the areca nut and betel leaves) or Guapan are considered as the offers of devotion, respect and friendship...

"Tamul Paan" ser