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Assamese gamosa yet to acquire GI tag

By Ajit Patowary

GUWAHATI, May 31 - The �Assamese gamosa� is yet to secure the Geographical Indication (GI) Registration tag. The first application for the tag for this textile product of Assamese pride, has bumped into an objection, while another application seeking the tag for this highly-valued product of Assamese weavers, is pending with the GI Registry, Chennai.

The first application to secure GI Registration tag for gamosa was filed by the Institute of Handicraft Development, Dhodang (Lawbhoga), Baruabamungaon, Golaghat district, in the month of October, 2017. The Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat provided technical support to them. They initially sought GI Registration tag for �phulam gamosa� only, and later on, this application was ascribed the number 594 by the GI Registry.

The second application was filed by the State�s Handloom and Textiles Directorate with support from the Patent Information Centre (PIC) of the Assam Science Technology and Environment Council (ASTEC) on December 27, 2019. It has sought the GI Registration tag for seven types of �Assamese gamosa,� and it has been ascribed the number 682 by the GI Registry.

The Baruabamungaon organisation described gamosa as �one of the unique identities of Assamese society.� The uses of phulam gamosa are seen as Bihuwan (Bihu+maan) during the Bihu festival, as wiping cloths by the shepherds while grazing the cattle herds and by the farming people. It is worn also as headgears in the paddy fields and also at the time of fishing. It is worn by the folk dancers too, � specially in Bihu dances, besides its use in household work, in the satras (monasteries) and naamghars (prayer halls), to honour the elders and persons held in high esteem in public functions, etc., it said.

This application was opposed by the State�s Directorate of Handloom and Textiles and the PIC, ASTEC (DY No 1996, February 24, 2020) on several grounds. They alleged, among others, that the Baruabamungaon organisation�s application mentioned only 100 producers of the two districts of Golaghat and Jorhat, who are registered with them, even though the GI Registration should cover all gamosa weavers of Assam. The complainants also alleged that the said application had not mentioned Assam as the place of origin of the gamosa.

The Handloom Directorate application, while referring to the December 10, 2012 recommendation of the State Advisory Committee, asserted that only hand-woven Assamese gamosa should be granted the GI Registration. Assamese gamosa has been reserved for production in handlooms under the Reservation Order S.O.2016 (E), dated 03/09/2008 of the Union Ministry of Textiles, it said. While asserting that over 12 lakh weavers are engaged in producing gamosas, it has pleaded for covering all the types of gamosas under the GI tag.

Assamese culture is strongly attached to the gamosa, with historical references and its use in traditional activities, temples, Bihu celebrations and felicitations. Its uniqueness primarily lies in its design and it is woven in a traditional fly shuttle handloom. Even in the paintings found in the manuscripts of the Bhagavata Purana of circa 1540, pieces of cloths resembling the Assamese gamosa were seen tied by the soldiers of Narakasura around their waists, in their battle with the army of Lord Krishna. The Katha-Gurucharita, which is written in old Assamese prose recording the scholarly activities in Assam during the early Vaishnavite period, provides a faithful account of the Vaishnavite faith and movement and sheds �a flood of fresh light upon the economic condition� of Assam of that time, also mentioned the uses of gamosa in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The gamosa has also been mentioned by Mrs SR Ward in the book Glimpse of Assam, edited and published by her in AD 1884, said the Handloom Directorate in its application.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Handicraft Development is learnt to have sent its reply to the objections raised by the Handloom Directorate to the GI Registry, which is yet to upload it to its website.

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