Assamese culture is a rich conglomerate of ethnic practices and assimilated beliefs. When the Ahoms entered the region in 1228, they had their own cultural features. Over the six centuries of their rule, they adopted the local language, religion and cultural customs, and embellished it with their own to such an extent that it puts them apart from medieval rulers of India. This is one reason why Assamese culture is so rich in heritage and values.
The Gamosa is an article of great significance for the people of Assam. Literally translated, it means 'something to wipe the body with' (Ga=body, mosa=to wipe); interpreting the word “gamosa” as the body-wiping towel is misleading. It is generally a white rectangular piece of cloth with primarily a red border on three sides and red woven motifs on the fourth (in addition to red, other colors are also used). Though it is used daily to wipe the body after a bath (an act of purification), the use is not restricted to this. It is used by the farmer as a waistcloth (tongali) or a loincloth (suriya); a Bihu dancer wraps it around the head with a fluffy knot. It is hung around the neck at the prayer hall and was thrown over the shoulder in the past to signify social status. Guests are welcomed with the offering of a gamosa and tamul (betel nut) and elders are offered gamosas (bihuwaan) during Bihu. It is used to cover the altar at the prayer hall or cover the scriptures. An object of reverence is never placed on the bare ground, but always on a gamosa. One can therefore, very well say, that the gamosa symbolizes the life and culture of Assam.
The word gamosa is derived from the Kamrupi word gaamasa , the cloth used to cover the Bhagavad Purana at the altar. The equivalent word in Oriya is spelled as gaamu + cha = gamucha.
Significantly the gamosa is used equally by all irrespective of religious and ethnic backgrounds.
Assam Festival Bihu
Bihu is the national festival of Assam. Primarily a festival celebrated to mark the seasons and the significant points of a cultivator's life over a yearly cycle, in recent times the form and nature of celebration has changed with the growth of urban centers. A non-religious festival, all communities---religious or ethnic---take part in it. Three Bihus are celebrated: rongali, celebrates the coming of spring and the beginning of the sowing season; kongali, the barren bihu when the fields are lush but the barns are empty; and the bhogali, the thanksgiving when the crops have been harvested and the barns are full.Rongali ,kongali & bhogali bihu are also known as 'bohag bihu','kati bihu'& 'magh bihu'respectivly.The day before the each bihu is known as 'uruka'.There are unique features of each bihu.The first day of 'rongali bihu' is called 'Garu bihu'(the bihu of the cows).On this day the cows are taken to the nearby rivers or ponds to be bathed.Cows takes a special position among the people of Assam who are mostly peasants.
Other than Bihu, Durga Puja is also celebrated in Assam with great pomp and splendour, although this might be a cultural effect of the millions of Bengali people living in the state. Even then, the entire state rejoices during Durga Puja, which signifies the victory of good over evil.
Assam, being the home to many ethnic groups and different cultures, is very rich in folk music. The indigenous folk music has in turn influenced the growth of a modern idiom, that finds expression in the music of such artists like Bhupen Hazarika, Rudra Baruah, Parbati Prasad Baruah, Jayanta Hazarika, Khagen Mahanta among many others. See also Music of Assam.