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Chak-Long Marriage – Pride Of Ahoms

Chak-Long Marriage – Pride Of Ahoms

Maral

The Chak-Long or the typical marriage ceremony undertaken by Ahom community is a grand three day affair

By Yeseng Borgohain

As a child, I was fascinated by dreamy and exquisite weddings that are portrayed graciously in fairy tales and movies. The desire to attend one was on the checklist. Belonging from the Ahom community, I have heard stories surrounding the exclusive marriage system of the Ahoms known as Chak-Long. Chaolung Sukapha who arrived in Assam (Brahmaputra Valley) in 1228 along with a troop of 9000 people formed the Ahom dynasty of Assam.

The prince belonged to Mong Mao Lung, a small village in the Yunnan province of South China. By the 16th century, the Ahoms had acquired the kingdoms of several tribes and eventually built and expanded their State. Witnessing the Chak-Long wedding was a matter of privilege and opportunity, and it is a once in a lifetime show in a nutshell.

Hosting a wedding is a tedious affair, and requires proper planning and execution and the Chak-Long marriage is no exception to it. With full vigor and zeal, I along with my family started the preparation for the three-day grand affair. Earlier, the Chak-Long marriage was conducted for nine days but with the passage of time, it was reduced to three.

During those three days, several rituals and ceremonies are performed before the inception of the grand wedding. The first day is called the Juron-Diya ceremony, where the bride receives traditional Assamese ornaments, bridal wear and makeup products from the family of the bridegroom.

These gifts depict the epitome of love and they welcome the bride to her new family. I sat beside my maternal aunt (to-be bride) and fluttered my hands through the gifts. The colorful gift wrappings, and shimmers of the ornaments were enough to keep me content.  On the D-day, the exclusive rituals of the Chak-Long marriage are performed. The rites and rituals are an indicative factor of upholding the sanctity of the institution of marriage.

On the day of the wedding, we prepared all the essentials for the event to happen without any disruption. In the morning, the womenfolk fetched water from the river known as Pani-Tola and the bride and groom are bathed with the freshly collected water and Mah-Halodhi which roughly translates into oil and turmeric paste, for procuring everlasting glow and gleam on the big day.

The Maral adorned with 101 earthen lamps
The Maral adorned with 101 earthen lamps

The Ahom priestly classes namely Bailung, Mohan and Deodhai perform the community’s religious events including marriage ceremonies. The Chak-Long wedding is undertaken by preparing the Maral, a form of Rangoli adorned with 101 earthen lamps. It is the most vital and unique part of the marriage. At night, the bride and groom sit around the Rangoli, and pray for their eternal happiness and togetherness.

After the rituals, the bride presents the Hengdang to her husband
The bride presents the Hengdang, the sword, to her husband

After the rituals, the bride presents the Hengdang to her husband. The Hengdang is a sword, and the acceptance of this sword is of traditional and historical significance as it marks protection of the bride by the groom through the administration of an oath. It is also a promise of protecting their family by casting off the perilous entities.

Kavas, a cloth like material, is then given to the bridegroom for conquering the evil and negative forces. This officially marks the end of the wedding, and then the newlyweds perform a few fun activities like the game of dice. One of the most attractive features of this Chak-Long marriage is its attire. The cream colored Mekhela, and the Reeha made of Muga silk adds to the grace and elegance of the bride. A headgear is also worn by the bride to finish the traditional look. The groom adorns the traditional Kurta and Dhoti, with the Cheleng Sador projecting his valor and grandeur.

See Also

Chaklong Wedding

 

Chak-Long marriage has its own beauty, and is quintessential to the Ahom community. But the steady corrosion of this traditional system is alarming. It has been replaced with a modern form of marriage due to globalised phenomena which will eventually make the community lose its uniqueness and diversity. A combination of traditionalcoupled with modern elements is the right balance of upholding customs and rituals of the community and also of revitalising the system.

The featured photograph by Parijat Gogoi. 

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