Weddings are occasions that reveal the tradition and identity of the land. In India, the spectrum of colours and cultural diversity emerging from the wedding ritual in each of its states paint a truly vibrant picture of the nation.
As the north eastern states of India are less explored and its people merely identified by their mongoloid features, I wanted to run a closer eye through their wedding customs to know the richness of their tradition. The diversity of their costumes simply spurred my curiosity. The wedding costumes from North East India have awakened my senses with a riot of hypnotising colours, cuts and distinctly individualistic styles. The north eastern states of India i.e. Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya are fondly referred as the seven sisters. Also, we cannot leave Sikkim out of this beautiful bouquet. Here we have tried to document the rich traditions emerging from wedding costumes of each state.
Assamese Wedding Costume
The groom wears a white silk dhoti and chadar.
The bridal costume of Assam is as beautiful as the land itself. Unlike the customary bright colored costumes that dress up the Indian bride, an Assamese bridal dress is prominently made of off-white or cream colored silk called “muga” which is decorated with golden thread giving the costume a soft yet gorgeous appeal. Colored motifs are also present on it often, but it is as if it has been mildly sprinkled all over. The traditional Assamese bridal costume is called “mekhla chadar” which made of two parts instead of one single piece as in a saree. Intricate gold jewellery completes their look.
Wedding Costumes of Arunachal Pradesh
Contrasting to this sophistication, ceremonial attire and wedding costumes in Arunachal Pradesh have retained a deep tribal influence; vibrant and beautiful in its own way. Contemporary styles and designs that have made their way in this ethnic fare draw inspiration from Tibet and Bhutan also. The dresses are remarkable for their natural fabric, geometric designs, weaves and bright hues. Each tribe may have its own variation in their wedding costume in the form of some accessory or colour. The jewellery is specially made of glass beads and silver. The bride and groom wear a special headgear known a “Koktung” and bead chains of various kinds known as sampu, sengme and sangiang.
Related: Traditional clothing of Arunachal
Wedding Costumes of Nagaland
Though Christianity is the official religion of the state, Nagaland remains untouched and unspoilt in its tribal marriage rituals. The state reveals many dramatic tribal attires in the wedding ceremonies of various tribes. With minor deviations, the highlight remains focused on the radiant shawls that drape their men and women. It is customary for the affluent parents to gift their daughter with a brightly coloured shawl known as ‘Shatni’ at the time of her wedding. This shawl is not merely a luxury item, it is carefully preserved till her death. It is so profusely intertwined with tradition that after her death her dead body is enveloped in this shawl.
Related: Exquisite Beauty Of Naga Shawls
Manipuri Wedding Costume
Manipuri wedding costume is an exhibition of grandeur and a unique fusion of tradition and style. The bridal dress is famously known as “Potloi”. On her wedding day the bride wears a stiff, stunningly bright colored skirt known as ‘Raslila’. She teams it up with a blouse known as ‘Silum’ and drapes a light stole known as ‘Innaphi’ to cover her head and blouse. She adorns her hair with beautiful hair accessories and decks up with golden ornaments completing her makeup to look like a fairytale princess.
Related: Traditional Dress of Manipur
The costume of the groom is comparatively simple comprising of a white dhoti, kurta and turban on his head. But the most striking part of the Manipuri wedding makeup is the ‘thilak’, a sacred mark which is drawn on the forehead of both the bride and the groom with sandalwood paste.
Wedding Costumes of Mizoram
Drifting sharply from the Hindu Vaishnava tradition of Manipur, Mizos usually have a Christian wedding. Hence, matching with its ritual and tradition, the bride wears a beautiful white gown and covers her head with a veil holding a bouquet of flowers in her hand instead of wearing a garland around her neck. The groom equally divides attraction dressing up in a suit generally black in colour.
Related: Colourful traditional Mizo costumes
However some Mizo brides love holding on to their tradition and prefer wearing a ‘Puanchei’, which is a spectacular woven skirt teaming it up with a white shirt on their wedding day. The overall tone of the Mizo wedding costume is simple and elegant.
Wedding Costumes of Tripura
The traditional bridal wedding costume of Tripura is known as ‘Risa’ and ‘Rinai’. Rinai is a beautifully woven cotton handloom wrap worn as a long skirt while Risa is worn as a blouse. They traditional jewellery includes elaborate coin necklaces, armlets and bangles which are quite striking and eye-catching. Men wear dhoti, kurta and a sash to drape their shoulders.
Related: Tripura Wedding Customs and Rituals
Related Photo Gallery: Wedding Costumes from NorthEast India
Wedding Costumes of Meghalaya
The traditional wedding costume of Meghalaya known as the Khasi outfit is quite an elaborate one consisting of several layers of contrasting colors. The bride wears a ‘Dhara’ or ‘Jainesm’ and the groom wears the ‘Lymphong’ teaming it up with a sarong. While a bride wears a crown on her head the groom also wears a turban on his head. Wearing head ornament is an important custom for the Meghalaya brides.
Related: North East Traditional Costumes
Wedding Costumes of Sikkim
The Sikkimese bride shines royally in the traditional attire made of silk known as ‘Bakhu’. It is a multi colored loose and layered garment fastened with a belt giving it a definite shape. The bride wears a geometric garment resembling an apron which designates her bridal status. Both the bride and the groom wear fur or silk hats and leather boots to complete their look. The bride and groom love to dress in pure gold jewellery. However the ornaments are not too ornate or gaudy.
Related: Wedding rituals of North East India