|The intricate motifs of the 'Gamocha'|
The word "Gamocha" or "Gamosa" means, 'Ga' - body and 'Mocha' or 'Mosa' - to wipe. So when put together, it literally means 'to wipe ones body'. The Assamese equivalent of the towel!
This piece of woven cloth is unique to the Assamese people. It is a symbol and identity of their culture, which occupies a status of immense respect and reverence.
History does not offer too much about the origin of this piece of Assamese attire. Although, traces of something similar to this are found in some south-east Asian countries, but this piece of cloth is absolutely unique to Assam and its people.
It is rectangular in shape, with a diameter of 2 feet by 4 feet. The base material is cotton. It has intricate motifs on three sides, usually woven with red thread. A very simple piece of workmanship but the designs on three sides speaks volumes of the artistic qualities of the weavers.
The usage of the "Gamocha", in fact, is very versatile in nature! From being used to wiping ones body after a bath to the sweat off ones brow, the use of the "Gamocha" takes on another facet during religious functions and celebrations. It is used with immense respect and reverence during such occasions. Folded neatly along its four feet length, it is draped over the neck of those to be honoured! During Bihu, it is gifted with love and affection and is called a 'Bihuwaan' and forms a part of the attire of the Bihu dancers, who tie it around their heads.
The Assamese society cannot be imagined without the simple "Gamocha"! The only constant in the ever changing social dynamics.