Coronavirus Outbreak: In Assam, masks made out of Gamusa become a trendy, convenient way to fight off COVID-19 threat

Tulika Devi

This Bohag Bihu, the Assamese Gamusa (a small piece of cloth that has high esteem and wide usage in Assamese culture), has become the mask in vogue to fight the coronavirus pandemic. For every Assamese, the Gamusa is a symbol of identity, existence and the most prized gift of affection. This traditional piece of cloth is even Prime Minister Narendra Modi's favourite choice and one can notice him wearing the Gamusa in various important events.

The latest such event was on Sunday when the prime minister had it around his neck while he lit the lamp showing the solidarity of commitment to fighting the coronavirus pandemic alongside his countrymen. Back in Assam, it has now become trendy to sport a mask made out of Gamusa to fend off the deadly disease. These handwoven cotton towels are now turning out to be the most convenient and acceptable face cover for the people in the state.

Phanindra Pradhan from Gahpur in Assam prepared many such Gamusa face covers and sold to people in his locality at a very nominal rate.

"It is cheap and one can relate to it. That's why they are in demand. After the face cover is ready we wash it with Dettol water to ensure it's safe for personal use," said Pradhan.

The 37-year-old artisan has received many orders after his product got popular on social media.

Kajol, a tailor from Kauli Market at Tamulpur in Assam's Baksa district, is also getting orders for the Gamusa mask.

"These are easy to wash and look bright on the face. People are keen to buy them every time they see the product," he said.

While a few artisans have given a nice try to make face cover out of it, Gamusa is easily available in every Assamese household and making a face cover out of this is not a hard nut to crack.

"Gamusa face cover is easy to make and one can simply cut it in a proper size keeping in mind to put the flowery portion outside and tie it with a rubber band in both sides. I am going to make Gamusa mask covers by myself for me and my whole family," said Juri Borah, a housewife.

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Every Assamese can relate to it emotionally and therefore its use can make the fight against the dreaded virus even more people-oriented.

In Bohag Bihu there is a customary tradition of gifting Gamusa or Bihuwan to loved ones and it is already seen as a potential popular gift this year.

Due to the unavailability of sufficient medical masks, it is now encouraged to make own masks at home with available material at home.

For the Assamese people, the Gamusa stands out to be most perfect and convenient material for making a face cover and nothing else can be a better Bihu gift for their loved ones to show love and care.

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