Bihuwaan: the symbol of respect and love in Assam

Sivasagar, Prangan Duarah: Beautifully woven symbolic traditional clothe, which describes the beautiful culture of Assam, “Gamosa” is a unique identity of Assamese culture. In the Assamese language “Ga” means body and “mosa” means the wipe. So, literally Gamosa means “something to wipe the body with”. But actually, the Gamosa means a lot more than something to wipe for Assamese people. From the kamrupi word “Gaamasa” the word “Gamosa” is derived, which is a combination of two-word gaama and chadar, and it refers to the cloth used to cover the Bhagavad Purana at the altar.

Photo: wish you all a very happy Bohag Bihu
The origin of Gamosa is still not clear. The usage of Gamosa during Ahom days was mentioned by Historian Dr. Leela Gogoi. There is also a reference of Gamosa from the days of Srimanta Sankardeva. “Sankardeva’s disciple Srimanta Madhavdeva got the news of sad demise of Sankardeva when his son Ramananda Thankur came running wearing a Gamosa in his head.” ‘A History Assam’ by Edward Gaite also gives the indication about the presence Gamosa. “A history of Assam” mentioned that the price of a piece of Gamosa was 6 paisa in 1739. There is a perfect design of Gamosa for every occasion you feel inspired to demonstrate your trendsetting nature which includes the typical designs of Assamese-lion, dragon, flying-lion, etc. were used for symbolizing various purposes and occasions. Including these all designs there were various other designs, which are now only found in history books.

An Assamese function can’t be imagined without Gamosa. From a small gathering with a few esteemed guests to a grand function with foreign guests, the use of phulaam Gamosa to welcome the guest is mandatory thing for an Assamese function. It is the symbol of showing respect to your guest and elder. Gamosa is also an important part of Assamese festival Bihu. Before Bohag Bihu Axomiya suwalis and buwaris are too busy weaving Gamosa. It is gifted to love one and to elders, which is known as “Bihuwaan”, for showing respect and love. Assamese deka wear these bihuwans in “Husori”, traditional Bihu dance. Gamosa is also used in religious activities in Assam. The ‘Monikut’ of Namghar, the prayer hall and the scriptures is usually covered with Gamosa. Gamosa is an essential article of assamese religious occasions. The Gamosa which symbolized Assam has always been close to our heart and will continue being so because the Assamese society, our Bihu our traditions cannot be imagined without our Gamosa or Bihuwaan.