India has a rich cultural heritage and jewelry has been an inseparable segment of our culture. Talk about weddings, the one thing that comes to mind is the grand bridal jewelry. Every girl looks forward to wearing all the beautiful bridal jewelry popular in the culture in that particular region. In the North as well as in the South, the traditions of bridal jewelry vary. If there is one thing common among all the bridal jewelry traditions in India, it is the fact that all of them are spectacular.
Each piece of jewelry a bride wears on D-day has a story, a significance behind it. Mangalsutra, the actual symbol of marriage in most traditions, toe ring, and maang tikka are some of the most common pieces of jewelry you would find in brides all over India. These are not just to ornate the already beautiful bride but come with rich historical significance associated with them.
"Mangalyam tantunanena mama jivana hethuna
Kanthe badhnami subhage twam jeeva sarada satam"
While the priest chants this mantra the whole family and loved ones bless the new couple as the groom dons the mangalsutra on the bride’s neck. This is the prime segment of any Hindu wedding. Do you know the significance behind this tradition?
The Sanskrit mantra above means that the groom ties the sacred thread around the neck of the special one, which is significant in blessing the groom with a long life and the couple, several happy years of togetherness ahead. Once this is done, the couples go around the sacred fire marking the beginning of their beautiful journey ahead- a bond that would last for several births to come.
The design of the mangalsutra varies across India. It goes by different names in different states. In several parts of Northern India, it is a black beaded chain with a pendant, in Tamil Nadu – it’s called Thali and consists of a gold chain or yellow thread with a magalsutra pendant that varies in different regions, Minnu and Thali in Kerala, Ramar Thaali in Andhra Pradesh, Mangalya Sutra in Karnataka and more.
Besides the mangalsutra, some traditions also have the ritual where the bride wears a toe ring.
Toe Ring and its significance:
- Hindi- bichiya
- Tamil- metti
- Telugu- mettelu
- Kannada- kalangura
In most of the traditions, toe rings are worn in silver and in pairs on both the feet- on the second toe. There are contemporary designs available now for the modern women. It is not just a symbol of marriage- there are several traditional significances associated with toe-ring. Even in the great Epic of Ramayan, we have heard of the anecdote where Sita left her toe ring on her way when Ravan abducted her to help Rama track her down. So the history of toe-rings in Hindu culture dates back to several centuries earlier. As all the major nerve endings of the body end in toes, there are several medical benefits too behind wearing toe-rings.
The other popular pieces you would find in the Indian bridal jewelry are:
- Maang tikka:
This is a small chain with a pendant which is worn such that the pendant falls on the center of the forehead. Various parts of the body are known to house various chakras. The “Ajna chakra” is believed to be present on the forehead. Wearing a maang tikka symbolizes the union of the female and the male elements- the union where all differences are overcome.
The uniform circular shape of the bangles is believed to regularize the blood circulation not to forget the feminine clanking sound of several bangles worn together. In modern culture, large chunky bangles and cuffs are easy style statements. But in an Indian wedding, these form an integral part of the bridal outfit. Iron bangles with gold plating are gifted by the Bengali mother-in-laws to their daughter-in-laws. Some traditions also offer ivory bangles. In some regions, traditional bangles that have been in the family for generations are offered to the new bride.
In Hindu culture, it is believed that wearing earrings can reduce the risk of evil energies that might enter the body through the ears. This is the reason why ear-piercing ceremonies are held where babies ears are pierced. A significant acupuncture point is also believed to be located on the ear, the point where the ear is pierced.
Besides these, necklaces, rings, anklets are some of the common jewelry pieces worn by the bride. These are the ones which are worn even on other occasions. Here are some of the less common ones which are uniquely worn during the wedding:
Mostly in gold, embellished with pearls and gemstones, the waistband can be a stiff belt or chain worn to accentuate the waist on the bridal saree or lehenga. And the navel is where the Manipura chakra is located.
Also known as bajuband comes either as a chain or a stiff armlet worn on the arms. This adds a notable grandeur to the bridal outfit and is usually chosen in colors to coordinate with the other jewelry pieces.
This is worn as a chain connected between the bangles or bracelets to one or more finger rings. On the fresh mehndi on the bride’s hands, the haathphool adds an elegant touch. These come in traditional Kundan designs as well as contemporary styles to suit every type of bride.
"Naath" or Nose Ring:
Many Indian women wear a small nose ring or nose stud as part of their outfit on most occasions. This again is due to the acupuncture point located on the place where the nose is pierced. At weddings, especially in the north, an ornamental large nose ring is worn as a part of the bridal outfit. This is, in fact, one piece of jewelry that instantly adds so much of oomph to the entire bridal outfit.
So the next time you are at a wedding, remember to observe these unique pieces of jewelry the bride wears.