Rich Tradition and Culture of Assam: Learn about Bihu Festival & Other Assam Culture
Assam, “the land of the red river and the blue hills,” is a state in northeast India. It is also known as the “Gateway to Northeast India.” Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh surround it in the north, Nagaland, Manipur, and Burma in the east, Bangladesh, Tripura, and Mizoram in the south, and West Bengal in the west.
Seven Sisters is the name for Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, and Meghalaya. “Paradise Unexplored” is another name for the Seven Sisters States.
The name “Seven Sisters” comes from the fact that the states are geographically similar and rely on each other in the political, social, and economic fields. The only way to get to any of the seven sister states from India is through the Siliguri Corridor (Chicken Neck) in Assam.
Assam’s capital is Dispur, and most of the state is in the valley of the mighty Brahmaputra River. The river Brahmaputra also makes the world’s biggest island, called Majuli.
The Indian one-horned rhinoceros is almost rare and is protected in Assam. Most of India gets less rain than the state does. These rains feed the Brahmaputra river and help create a hydro-geomorphic environment in Assam that lasts all year.
Assam has lush green meadows, fertile plains near the huge Brahmaputra river, beautiful hills with great tea plantations, and various plants and animals. It is best for tourists in Assam because the weather is nice all year round.
History of State of Assam
Assamese culture and tradition have existed for almost 2,000 years since the first cultural mixing between Austro-Asian and Tibeto-Burman groups happened.
Three waves of cultural integration are part of the assamese’s rich culture. First, the Tibeto-Burman people from China’s Tibet, Yunnan, and Sichuan areas mixed with the few indigenous Austric people already there, like the Khasi and Jaintia.
Then, Indo-Aryans from northern India moved into Assam. They brought the Vedic culture and Hinduism with them.
The Ahoms (Tai/Shan) were the last people to move to Assam, and they added a new chapter to their society. Later, the Ahoms brought more Indo-Aryans to Assam, including the Assamese Brahmins, Ganaks, and Kayasthas. The Ahom kings built the Assam we know today.
During their 600 years in power, the Ahom dynasty kept the country independent from the Mughals, the Muslim invaders of India before the British, and others, even though the Mughals attacked Assam seventeen times. During this time, Assamese culture was outside of itself.
As tea planters, the British moved into Assam in 1824. This was the beginning of the end of the Ahom kingdom. Along with the British, the Indian immigrants brought their traditional views to Assam, like the caste system and the dowry system. Some immigrants join the Assamese culture, while others follow their customs.
British ruled until 1947. With India’s independence, Assam could also get its rights and join India. Since then, Assam has been spending her time as a part of the Indian Union.
Culture of Assam
The Ahom dynasty and the Koch kingdom, which ruled the area for a long time, affected the society of Assam. The Vaishnava movement was one of the most important societal shifts.
The people who live in Assam are called Assamese (Asomiya), a mix of Mongoloid, Indo-Burmese, Indo-Iranian, and Aryan. Their society has changed as people of different races have blended into it.
There are many tribes in the state. The largest tribe is the Boro, but there are also Chakma, Chutiya, Dimasa, Hajong, Garo, Khasis, Gangte, and other tribes. At the same time, most Assamese are from the Vaishnava tribe, where social institutions like Namghar (a place of worship) and Sattra (a place where religious and cultural practices occur) became famous.
The language of Assam is Assamese. It is an Indo-Aryan language and the state’s legal language.
Men in Assam wear Dhoti Gamosa. A dhoti is a piece of clothing worn on the lower body. The dhoti is wrapped around the waist, and the samosa is a rectangular piece of cloth with a red edge on three sides to wipe hands.
Mekhela Chador is a two-piece outfit worn by Assamese women of all ages but not by children. It hangs down from the waist and is tucked back into the abdomen with a triangle-shaped fold. The mekhela is worn with a few folds around the waist, and the Chador is wrapped around the body and tucked in at the waist.
Even though it looks like a saree, it’s not a saree because it’s made of two pieces, the Mekhela, and the Chador. Muga silk, unique and the pride of Assam, is used to make traditional clothes.
Food of People of Assam
Assamese food is a mix of the cooking styles of people who live in the hills and those who live in the plains. A traditional Assamese breakfast starts with Khar and ends with Tenga, which is spicy and sour. The meal ends with betelnut and paan.
Some classic Assamese dishes are pura maas manchego, dheakiyasak, Ritika, etc. A normal Assamese meal includes:
- Rice (Bhat).
- Fish curry (dal masoor jowl).
- Meat curry (mango).
- Herbs and vegetables (bhaji).
The leading food in Assam is a type of rice that is grown there. Wild fish like Borali, Rou, Illish, or Sital is used to make fish sauce. Ducks and pigeons are also used, and young people like pork, chicken, and beef the most.
There are also grasshoppers, locusts, silkworms, crabs, eels, wildfowl, birds, and deer meat.
Khorisa is made from fermented bamboo shoots that are added to curries. Koldil, the bamboo plant’s flower, and squash are used as veggies.
They usually make drinks at home, like Laupani, Xaaj, Paniyo, Jou, joumai, Hot, and Apang. Guests are given these drinks as a gift.
Dances of Assam
Bihu is a very famous festival that is celebrated all over Assam. During this festival, Bihu dance is trendy and is often done in the open with friends and family. Dhol and Pepa are important parts of the Bihu dance.
Jhumar Nach, Bagurumba, Ankia Naat, Kushan Nritra, Mishing Bidu, etc. also famous. Borgeet is a type of folk song from Assam.
Art and Craft of Assam
Assamese people have always been good at weaving, and every woman is proud of the things she has made on her handloom. They used handlooms to make clothes out of silk and cotton. Eri, Muga, and Pat are three important types of silk made in Assam. Antehra Assam is home to the worms that make Muga silk. Only in the northwestern temperature can these worms stay alive.
Gandhiji once said that Assamese weavers were artists because they could use their looms to make dreams come true. They make fine assam silk and cotton fabrics with images of flowers and other things. People also like to make traditional crafts like pottery, clay, jewellery, musical instruments, and things out of cane and bamboo.
Festivals of Assam
Bihu is the most important festival in Assam, and everyone celebrates it with great enthusiasm, no matter what religion they follow.
The Bohag Bihu, which is also called Rangaali Bihu, is held in the middle of April. People dance and sing in the open with friends and family.
The second important Bihu is Magh Bihu, which is celebrated in the middle of January. It is also known as the harvest festival (Bhogaali Bihu) and is generally celebrated with bonfires and feasts in the community.
The third holiday is Kangaali Bihu, which is held in the middle of October. This is when the crop is brought home. There are also celebrations for Durga puja, Dol-Jatra or Fakuwa, Janamasthami, and Eid in the area.
Assam Tea – Product of Assam
Assam is known for its silk and tea. Assam tea is well-known worldwide for its deep black color and strong taste. Assam is the only place where more than half of India’s tea is grown, and it is the biggest tea-growing region in the world.
Assam has a rich cultural assimilation and is known as “the land of red rivers and blue hills” because of its wildlife and tea plantations. The powerful Brahmaputra River runs through the state, making it what it is. Asian elephants live in the thick forest of Assam, also home to many other animals and birds.
You will be amazed by the variety and colour of Assam, whether it’s the natural landscape or the culture of the people who live there. Assam is also known for its amazing tea and silk, but most of all for its rich wildlife, which makes it a popular place for eco-tourism.
Assam is a great place for people who love wildlife because it has five national parks, two of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and many wildlife and bird reserves.
- Kaziranga National Park
- Dibru Saikhowa National Park
- Manas National Park
- Nameri National Park
- Orang National Park
- Assam’s best places to visit are
Guwahati, Sualkuchi – Where you can see muga silk, pat silk, and eri silk; the largest populated river island in the world is Hajo, Tezpur, and Majuli. Digboi is the oldest oil refinery in Asia.
Kamakhya Temple is an old and historical temple in Guwahati that gets the most visitors in eastern India. Sivasagar was the home of the Ahom Kingdom, one of the country’s longest-ruling rulers.