Assam is one of the seven sister states and is situated in the South of eastern Himalayas. The natives of Assam, also called Asomiya have a history of diverse cultures and races intermixed over a period of many centuries.
The influence of Aryan, Mongolian, and Burmese cultures was the beginning of the fusion of diverse races. The state has various unique tribes, each set up with its own unique culture.
Some of the tribes of Assam namely Kabi, Kachari, Rabha, Bodo, Miri exist with each other in Assam. However, the major sect of the Assamese is that of Vaishnavas.
Assam’s cultural fabric is highly influenced by the two religious institutions of the State.
- The first are “Satras” (Assamese: সত্ৰ) which are the Vaishnavite monasteries of the 16th century. It was founded by the father of Assamese culture, Sankardeva. It was the result of the socio-cultural revolution initiated by the Vaishnavas.
- The second is the “Naamghar” (Assamese: নামঘৰ) which is the Prayer Hall of Assam. The literal meaning of the ‘Naamghar’ is the House of Names. Vaishnavite Hindus come here to chant the names of Gods.
Speaking of the rich culture and heritage, the traditional dress of Assam also holds great importance in reflecting the uniqueness and cumulative fusion of various races and tribes in Assam.
The traditional dress in Assam separates its identity from the rest and introduces us to the colors of the State.
Let’s dive deeper into the different traditional dress of the Assamese and what are they called.
Traditional Dress of Assam for Men
This is a traditional dress worn by men and young boys of Assam. It is a waistcloth just like a belt. The Tongali has a special significance in the Bihu dance.
The indigenous people of Assam apart from farmers and fishermen use this as their loincloth. This belt type strap holds the shirt or the dhoti.
Dhoti is a long cloth that starts from the waist. It is usually made of white, cream, or yellow fabric. This long loincloth covers most of the leg and is 5 yards long. Dhoti is knotted at the waist.
The one end of the dhoti is brought between the legs and tucked inside the waistband. Often misinterpreted with Lungi, it is made of light cotton fabric. Dhoti is often worn by Assamese men and boys during religious programs.
Originating from the Sanskrit word kuratu or kurtaka, Kurta is a nationally or even globally accepted type of clothing. It is a loose shirt and the length is usually till the knees or below the knees. It can be worn on both formal and informal occasions.
Kurtas are usually made of light material like light silk or cotton for hot weather and heavy fabric like Khadi or wool for winters. Although Kurta is not a traditional dress of Assam, it has a cultural significance in the state.
Paghuri is a traditional dress of Assamese men that is worn on important occasions. This dress is a part of Neo Vaishnav culture (neo-Vaishnavism is born from Hinduism with reformed beliefs).
Paghuri is worn during Sattriya dance. Paghuri is also worn during the cultural programs of Neo Vaishnavs.
Traditional Dress of Assam for Women
1. Sador or Chadar
Sador or Chadar is a long piece of clothing that is worn on the left shoulder and crossed at the lower waist on the right side. It is available in various colors, designs, and graphics.
It is also considered as the main traditional dress of Assam for women. It is usually crafted from Muga, cotton, or silk.
Mekhela is a cylindrical dress that starts from the upper waist and ends at the lower feet. This traditional dress of Assam is often made of Muga, cotton, Eri silk, Pat silk.
However, cotton mekhela is most common because it is comfortable to wear and is available at a very low cost. It is made by Assamese women with homemade handlooms.
Just like Sador, Mekhela has a special significance is Assamese culture too. Chador forms the top part or portion while Mekhela is the bottom portion.
Mekhela is available in various designs of flowers, birds, trees, leaves and other graphics or elements of nature.
A blouse is a well fitted upper garment that lends a feminine appearance with the ethnic or traditional attires. They are available in various sleeve and collar designs along with versatile graphics and prints as per the choice. Traditionally, women of Assam wear simple blouses.
Although, the blouse is not a traditional dress of Assam but worn by every woman globally. However, Assamese women consider it a part of their traditional attire.
The blouse is an essential part of the traditional dress in Assam for women as without the blouse, mekhela, and sador cannot be worn.
Riha is a part of traditional dress of Assam which is worn only occasionally, especially during religious festivals. Some of the occasions when this is worn are Anna Prashan or prayers in Namghar.
Riha is worn with Mekhela chador and also forms a part of the bridal trousseau. The motif rich Riha mekhela adds to the beauty of the attire.
Common Dress in Assam
1. Cheleng Sador
This is the type of Sador worn by men. Since chador is essentially for women, Cheleng sador is designed for men. It is made of pure cotton threads and is a par of traditional or religious events.
Gamusa is the primary or main traditional dress in Assam which has a supreme cultural significance.
Gamusa is medium-sized clothing with versatile uses. It can be hung around the neck or tied at the waist. It is usually available in white color with red motifs.
Gamusa is a kind of universal clothing used by both men and women.
Assam holds a rich culture and heritage with various stories from the history binding the people and this is majorly reflected in their clothing. Even if you are not a part of the Assamese culture, adorning yourself in these unique styles will definitely fill you with splendor.
Read More About Traditional Dress of Goa here……