Gamusa (Gamosa) is the identity of Assamese culture which is also known as ‘Bihuwaan‘. Gamusa consists of two words ‘Ga’ means ‘body’ and ‘mosa’ refers to ‘wipe’ which makes Gamosa an ordinary towel. Although Gamusa is a small piece of cloth, it means a lot for Assamese people. It is an irreplaceable asset for Assam. Simply Gamusa is a pride of Assam which holds all of us together from Muslim to Hindu, Brahmin to Ahom. It is an integral part of Assamese festival ‘Bihu’ and it is used for religious and auspicious occasions as well. There are three types of Gamosa such as Paani Gamosa, Tamul Gamosa, and Bihuwan. Apart from these three Gamusa, you can find another Gamusa in lower Assam which is known as ‘Anakata’. The specialty of this Gamusa is it is taken out from the ‘tatxal’ without cutting. Unlike Assamese Jewellery, Gamusa is an integral part of Assamese tradition.
It is pretty much difficult to find out the history of Gamusa because nowhere is mentioned about its origin. According to Dr. Lila Goigoi, Gamosa has been used since the Ahom Kingdom. So, we can say that Gamusa is a great innovation of Assamese weaver.
How Does Gamusa Look Like
The shape of Gamusa is pretty much similar to a towel with around 2 feet in width and 5 feet in length. It is a white in color with a red border. Weaver shows their artistic magic in Gamusa by creating unique traditional designs which are inspired by birds, animals, humans, flowers, foliage and geometric motifs. Gamusa is normally made of cotton material, but for some special occasions, they are made of Silk as well.
The Special Usage of Gamosa
Usage of Gamusa is not for wiping a body or wrapping it into a head, it has some special usages. Gamusa is used for the various purpose from religious to wedding ritual that signifies the life and culture of Assam.
For Religious Activites: Gamusa is considered as the symbol of respect in Assam. So, it is used in every religious activities from cover the ‘Guxai Thapona’ in Monikut of our Naam Ghor to cover the scriptures. Moreover, people hang around the neck when they visit the prayer hall.
As a Bihuwaan: Gamusa is used as a Bihuwaan in Bihu of Assam. Elders are offered Gamusa and guests are welcomed by offering a Phulam Gamusa to show love and affection.
Apart from these, Bihu dancers wrap Gamusa around their head, farmer use as a waistcloth (tongali) or a loincloth (Suriya), and even more musical instruments are wrapped with Gamusa.
Where Can You Get Gamusa?
You can find Gamusa in every household of Assam. Weaving Gamusa by hand is a part of everyday life in rural Assam. Some machine made Gamusa flooded Assam in the middle of time, but now handmade Gamusa again gear up to get back their popularity. Weavers from different parts of the state and under different self-help groups are participating in several pre-Bohag Bihu melas. You can buy Gamusa at retail store and mela as well, the price of a Gamusa ranges from Rs 60 to Rs 1,000. Moreover, there are so many online stores Assam Silk Shopping, Sale Bhai where you can purchase Gamusa from anywhere in India.