Assam is a beautiful place which happens to be one of the Seven Sisters in the North East. Assam is not just a budding state, but also a place with deep cultural roots and the people here take pride in the refinement of their cultural roots. This state portrays its beauty not only in its serenity and lush green forests but also in the way the people dress traditionally. Tradition is the caravan of the heritage passed on to us by our forefathers, and these people here have very elegantly managed to carry forward the flame that was passed to them rightly. Here, let’s have a look at the beautiful and exquisite pieces of clothing that one can find only in Assam.
Dhoti and Gamosa:
The Dhoti and Gamosa are said to be the native dress of the men of Assam. The Dhoti is used to cover the lower half of the body and is a well-known piece of clothing in other Indian traditions too. Wearing a Dhoti properly is not so easy and carrying it is also one tricky job. The Gamosa is a rectangular piece of cloth that is an important and significant part of the Assam culture. Gamosa means ‘A cloth to wipe one’s body’ and is a white cloth with a beautiful red border on three sides and woven motifs on the remaining one. It is a piece of clothing that has some great significance in this state hence it is also used to felicitate and honour people who achieve some great feat. The Gamosa can be used as a cloth to wipe or can be transformed into a waistcoat which is commonly known as the Tongali. It can also be used as a Loincloth by a Bihu dancer.
The Mekhela Chador is the traditional dress for the women of Assam. It is worn by women of all ages except children. This two piece garment has a long piece of cloth that is draped from the waist downwards and is then folded into pleats and tucked in. This piece is called the Mekhela. The upper part of the dress is the Chador that is also a long piece of cloth whose one end is tucked into the Mekhela, and then the rest is wrapped around the body. This Chador is worn with triangular folds the art of which can be mastered only by sheer practice. Wearing these traditional dresses is not everyone’s cup of tea and can be a magnanimous task at times. The run for traditional dresses of Assam does not end here. Assam is a state that houses different tribes who themselves have carried the flame of their tradition for generations. Each of these tribes has their set of unique culture, tradition, lifestyle and clothing. Wandering deep into the state, let us have a look at the artistic dresses of few of the major tribes that reside in Assam.
Tribal Wear Of Assam:
The Dimasa Tribe:
The men of the Dimasa tribe are known to wear a Sgaopha or a Phagri (a turban) which is a sign of the pride they take in their name. The Sgaopha is yellow or green in colour, but on special occasions like marriages, the groom wears a white turban with a red thread tied below the chin. The Rigdo is a little muffler that these people carry with themselves. Risha and Gainthao are both Dhotis that differ in length. The Risha comes up to one’s knee, and the Gainthao reaches the ankle.
The women of this tribe are extremely pretty, and their amazing dresses bring out the hidden beauty in them. The dresses these women wear is fairly similar to the Mekhela Chador except the fact that the Rigu is a more standard piece of clothing here. The Rigu is a long piece of cloth worn from the waist down, usually reaching up to the ankles. Bathormai is a kind of Rigu that has one and only one design on the whole piece of cloth. The Bathormai
is a particular Rigu that reaches only till the ankles and therefore is widely worn during summer seasons.
Rijamphain is a dress like clothing which is white in colour and runs from the chest to the knees, and many young women can be found wearing one of these. These people have simple costumes and yet never leave a shred of elegance wasted.
The Bodo Tribe:
The men of the Bodo tribe are simple dressers and can be seen wearing the common dress of Assam i.e. the Gamosa. They use the
Gamosa to cover the body waist down to the knee, and the upper half was meant to kept bare. But with changing modern times, the men are widely accepting shirts as a part of their wardrobe. The footwear though is one distinguishing feature of the men of the Bodo tribe. They used to wear footwear made of wood until lately, and it is commonly known as Khorom.
The women of this tribe have a distinguishing dressing format. The women here are seen wearing the Dokhna which is a dress like cloth that they wrap around their body and runs right from the chest, down to the ankles. It is crafted in such a way that can be wrapped around the body only once and is tied around the waist. This Dokhna is made of various bright colours and patterns and Agor. A Dhokna without an Agor is regarded as a bridal dress and can is termed as a Salamatha. The people here have mastered the art of using the eri fibres and producing some fine clothes that everyone finds elegant.
The Mishing Tribe:
The mishing tribe is one of the tribes that follows the code of dressing of Assam as a whole. The men of the tribe wear, what is called a Gonru Ugon which is a Dhoti that is a piece of cloth worn from the waist down. Mibu Galuk is a shirt like a dress that is used by men to cover their upper body. Like other groups, these people also have a great place for the Gamosa Dumer.
The women of this tribe are also simple dresses when it comes to traditional dressing. They also wear the Mekhela Chador which is known as the Yakan Age-Gasar here and is black in colour. These women are not fancy and yet make a benchmark when it comes to colourful dresses. Bright coloured blouses are pretty common, and the occasions like marriages are boomed with the vibrant colours that these women put on.
The Rabha Tribe:
The people of the Rabha Tribe are deeply attached to their traditions and have a unique sense of dressing when it comes to the women of the tribe. The men, however, follow the common Assamese dressing code of Dhoti and Gamosa. Though the people are doing some alterations in the same, they seem to like the native way of dressing in white ( or colourful) dhoti and the long Gamosa that is one constant in almost every tribe in the state.
The women here dress very elegantly, and their dress is known as the Koum Kontong which is a skirt resembling clothing wrapped around their waists. These skirt like dresses are endorsed with exquisite patterns that are sure to blow your mind. Kambang is another piece of clothing that these women use to cover their upper body. A belt or cummerbund made of beautiful shells and pearl balls is something that these women wear as an accessory. These belts are commonly called the Labok and are tied around the abdomen.
The North East of our nation is filled with unusual sightings, untold tales, silent traditions and unique fashion. When one sees the beautiful patterns and embroidery that the people here are capable of making, they come to see and experience the hidden beauty of this land of magic. There are still many unexplored tribes that have their way of dressing that helps us in upbringing the different cultures that our country holds.