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Mekhela Saree Of Assam – Presented During Bihu Festival

Mekhela saree is a traditional silk saree costume worn by the women of Assam and is presented during religious and ceremonial occasions like Bihu festival. The mekhala cador, a two-piece sari in woven silk, worn by Assamese women, has a history steeped in tradition and is a tribute to the age-old practice of silk-weaving.

History of Mekhela Saree can be traced back to the wearing of the rika mekhela by the women in ancient times.

The mekhala was worn in an intricate manner around the waist and pleated into three folds, while the riha was worn essentially as a scarf. It evolved to become the upper part of the sari and is known as cador.

Custom dictates the adornment of the mekhela cador during religious and ceremonial occasions and is usually presented to young women during the spring festival of Bihu.
The fabric of the mekhala is hand-woven out of muga silk, also known as the golden silk fiber, indigenous to the state of Assam.

The silk is derived from the worm known as antherea assama and is basically coarse in nature.

Local weavers then work their magic by weaving in motifs symbolizing ancient legends and patterns of birds and flowers on the body of the mekhala.

The intricately woven motifs bear testimony to the ancient tradition of handloom weaving – the state’s oldest and largest industry.

Tradition has it that young girls were required to be skilled in the technique of weaving to become eligible for marriage.

The wearing of mekhala is considered sacred. The wearing of silk itself is considered to be a symbol of purity and largely dictated by ceremonial norms.

The modern mekhela is restricted not just to Assam but is also worn, albeit in varying styles, in the neighboring northeastern states.

Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VII page 134 – 135 – IHRF
Encyclopedia of North East India (2004) T Raatan – Gyan Publishing House New Delhi
Culture and Tradition of the North East (1996) Eknathji Ranade – Vivekananda Kendra New Delhi