What is an Assamese Gamosa or Gamcha? Is It Worth Buying?
An Assamese Gamosa or Gamusa/Gamucha is worth more than the threads it is made of, and/or the price tag it might bear! It is one of the prominent cultural symbols of the indigenous people of Assam and goes beyond religions.
So, YES, an Assamese Gamosa is actually worth more than buying... it is worth treasuring!!
The History of Assamese Gamosa:
TThe Assamese Gamosa has a history - long immortal. Probably from the early stages of the inception of the greater Assamese society, this piece of cloth came into existence. Many historians and academicians believe that the origin of Gamosa/Gamusa can be linked to the Tai and other people from South-East Asia.
The widespread usage and acceptance of Assamese Gamosa can be rightfully credited to Mahapurux Srimanta Sankardev as well. His 'Eksharan' practices across all the segments of Assam strengthened the usage among all the people of Assam irrespective of their religions. His pilgrimage and sojourn to many important religious and political places across India further added to the spread of Assamese Gamosa's knowledge among Indians.
Meaning of the word 'Gamosa':
The word gamosa comprises two specific Assamese words - Ga (body) and Mosa (to wipe) গামোচা = গা + মোচা
Usage of Gamosa/Gamusa:
From marriages to ceremonies to Bihu to any other occasion in Assam is incomplete without a gamosa. It is generally used to pay respect, show gratitude, and felicitate. During Bihu, a gamosa can become a BIHUWAN - a token of love and respect to someone in the family, friends, or even the guests.
Modern usage of Assamese gamosa can be seen chiefly during various felicitation programs and political meetings. Assamese gamosa has become a symbol of national pride when it was promoted by the Honorable PM of India Mr. Narendra Modi. Even during the International Yoga Day participations, he uses Assam gamosa around his neck.
Assamese people love to flaunt Gamosa whenever there is an accomplishment either by holding it high or by wearing it around the neck.
Production of Assamese Gamosa:
Assamese gamosa is generally tied to the ladies of the Assamese societies, who skillfully weave it using handmade looms called TaatXaals. A particular spinning tool used in such a taaxaal in Assam is called 'Mako', and has a presence even around traditional songs in Assam.
In many villages in upper Assam, ladies weave Assamese gamosa designs traditionally by using make-shift mini looms on a ground of good length, especially in the gullies in front of typical Assamese village homes.
With the advent of the power looms, the production of gamosa has shifted to machines in a large amount. Sadly, with lesser industrialization, the business of Assamese gamosa has somehow shifted to places outside Assam where they re produced in large quantities and are mostly sent back to Assam. This has further raised the issue of being genuine. An Assamese weaver with all her effort and skill can hardly make one gamosa in a day or so, whereas power looms can produce 100s if not 1000s in a few hours. This has dramatically impacted the price of Assamese gamosa. Machine-made duplicate Assamese gamosas from outside Assam are available at a very low price compared to the price an Assamese weaver can afford to sell her gamosas for.
To preserve this cultural symbol of Assam, the application for GI tag was filed by the Institute of Handicraft Development of Golaghat district on October 16, 2017. The application was accepted under sub-section (1) of Section 13 of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, but the GI TAG is yet to be active.