Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Jaapi, Xorai and Gamosa in Assam


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jaapi, Xorai and Gamosa

Mains level: NA

As the polling date draws closer, decorative jaapis (field hats), hand-woven gamosas and bell-metal xorais are making frequent appearances in Assam.

Primarily used to felicitate important people and guests, these important symbols of Assamese identity and culture are abundantly seen in political campaigns across the state.


  • The jaapi is a conical hat made of bamboo and covered with dried tokou (a palm tree found in rainforests of Upper Assam) leaves.
  • It is most often used in official functions to felicitate guests.
  • The landscape of rural Assam features a more utilitarian version, which farmers wear to protect themselves from the harsh weather, both sun and rain, while working in the fields.
  • The first possible recorded use of jaapi dates back to the Ahom-era buranjis, or chronicles. Kings and ministers would wear them then.


  • The Gamosa, which literally translates to a cloth to wipe one’s body, is omnipresent in Assam, with wide-ranging uses.
  • It can be used at home as a towel (uka gamosa) or in public functions (phulam/floral gamosa) to felicitate dignitaries or celebrities.
  • The popularity of the gamosa has now traveled beyond Assam and is often used by a number of public figures.
  • It was during the anti-foreigner Assam Agitation of the early 1980s, when Assamese nationalism reached its crescendo, that the gamosa assumed a new role.


  • Made of bell-metal, the xorai — essentially a tray with a stand at the bottom, with or without a cover — can be found in every Assamese household.
  • While it is primarily used as an offering tray during prayers, or to serve tamale-paan (betel-nut) to guests, a xorai is also presented along with the jaapi and gamosa while felicitating someone.
  • The bulk of xorais in Assam are made in the state’s bell metal hub Sarthebari in Bajali district.

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