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Significance of bangles in Indian culture and their regional diversity

In spite of such stylish designs at display, bangles either made of glass or metal are only preferred for auspicious occasions like during marriage or for a festival.

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(Representational Image) Bangles. Image Source: Wikipedia.org
  • Symbolic of married status, bangles signify the well-being of a woman’s husband and her family
  • In spite of many stylish designs at display, bangles either made of glass or metals are only preferred for auspicious occasions like during marriage or for a festival
  • According to a ceremony called mameru in Gujarat, a bride’s maternal uncle gives her the chooda along with a silk sari

Since time immemorial, bangles have been an intrinsic part of Indian culture and continue to be so. It is in fact considered to be one of the most important ornaments for a married woman. Symbolic of married status, bangles signify the well-being of a woman’s husband and her family.

There have been concrete evidences, which testify that bangles have been a part of Indian culture since ancient times. The bronze figure of a dancing girl wearing a collection of bangles that has been unearthed at Mohanjodaro also establishes the inseparable connection these wrist ornaments had with our culture.

The antiques testify that bangles were made from various metals like terracotta, stone, gold, bronze and silver among others and almost every material that the craftsman could mould.

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Presently, of course because the women juggle between home and work this tradition has taken a backseat but the importance of them to a married woman remains the same.

It might seem astonishing to some but even today women in certain communities are very superstitious about bangles. Apparently, even while changing old bangles with a new set, they either tie a string or the end of their sari to ensure that their arm is not bare even for a second.

As per the tradition they are a part of the solah shringar (signs of a married woman) of a woman and are generally made of glass or gold.

Trendy plastic bangles. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Trendy plastic bangles. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

However, bangles have changed over time and have become much trendier to suit the contemporary fad. Funky looking bangles with geometrical shapes have also been nudged in the market and are worn by both married and un-married women.

In spite of many stylish designs at display, bangles either made of glass or metal are only preferred for auspicious occasions like during marriage or for a festival.

In a culturally rich country as India, the colour and the material from which the bangle is made of vary from regions to regions. Here are some of the regions and the types of bangles worn here as illustrated by TOI:

Rajasthan and Gujarat

The brides in the region wear ivory bangles or chooda. According to a ceremony called mameru in Gujarat, a bride’s maternal uncle gives her the chooda along with a silk sari that specifically has a red border.

Punjabi Chooda. Image Source: ourvivaha.com
Punjabi Chooda. Image Source: ourvivaha.com

Punjab

The Punjabi brides most certainly wear chooda made of ivory and red bangles. Again her maternal uncle gives the bride-to-be a chooda, which she has to wear for a specific period of time. The newly-married has to wear the chooda for a minimum of forty days or longer as per the custom of the family.

Maharashtra

In the state, a bride wears odd number of green bangles on the wedding day. The green bangles are worn with gold ones called patlya and carved kadas known as tode. The green bangles, which symbolize creativity, new phase and fertility are generally presented by the groom’s family.

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Southern India

Gold is considered to be extremely auspicious in the region. The brides here wear green glass bangles with gold plated ones.

Bengal

Locally called shakha and pola, the brides in Bengal wear conch shell bangles and a red coral bangles. Apart from this, a new-bride is also given gold bangles by her mother-in-law upon her entry into the new house.

-prepared by Bulbul Sharma, a staff-writer at NewsGram. Twitter handle: iBulbul_

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“Visit Strengthens Further Internal Cohesion and Unity”: Pope Francis Meets Leaders of North Macedonia

Ahead of his visit, Francis praised the mix of cultures, religions, and ethnicities in North Macedonia, and said he was traveling there to "sow these seeds" of solidarity.

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Pope Francis
Pope Francis greets the crowds in Skopje on May 7. RFERL

Pope Francis, who is on a historic first trip to North Macedonia, has met with the country’s leadership and held Mass in the main square of the capital, Skopje.

Francis was welcomed by the outgoing president, Gjorge Ivanov, and other government officials.

He has sought to encourage the country’s drive toward integration into the EU and NATO after its name change resolved a decades-long dispute with Greece last year.

Like neighboring Bulgaria — Francis’s first stop on his three-day Balkan tour — North Macedonia, a small Balkan country of 2.1 million, is mainly Orthodox Christian.

But the country has a large community of ethnic Albanian Muslims, who make about one-quarter of the population. North Macedonia is home to an estimated 15,000 Catholics.

In meetings with Ivanov and with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the presidential palace, Francis praised North Macedonia’s multiethnic and multifaith culture, calling it an example of peaceful coexistence and a bridge between East and West.

“These particular features are also highly significant for increased integration with the nations of Europe,” he said.

Christian
Like neighboring Bulgaria — Francis’s first stop on his three-day Balkan tour — North Macedonia, a small Balkan country of 2.1 million, is mainly Orthodox Christian. VOA

“It is my hope that this integration will develop in a way that is beneficial for the entire region of the Western Balkans, with unfailing respect for diversity and for fundamental rights.”

In his speech, President Ivanov complained about delays in accepting Macedonia in the Euro-Atlantic family.

“You come at a time when [North] Macedonian society is deeply divided, and the [North] Macedonian [nation] is heavily wounded by broken promises, unfulfilled expectations and faltering trust in the international community,” he said.

Viktor Dimovski, state secretary of North Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry, told the media on May 6 that the pope’s historic visit comes at a crucial moment as the country seeks entry into the European Union and NATO.

“The pope’s visit strengthens further internal cohesion and unity, and brings messages of reconciliation and solidarity,” he said.

The pope’s visit also included a prayer at the memorial of North Macedonia’s most famous native daughter, Mother Teresa, who was born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in 1910 in Skopje when it was still part of the Ottoman Empire.

Francis was surrounded by Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity nuns in praying before the memorial. Mother Teresa was canonized by Francis in 2016.

Ahead of his visit, Francis praised the mix of cultures, religions, and ethnicities in North Macedonia, and said he was traveling there to “sow these seeds” of solidarity.

“Living together is not always easy, we know that,” the pope said in a video message. “But it’s worth struggling toward, because the most beautiful mosaics are the ones that are richest in colors.”

muslims
But the country has a large community of ethnic Albanian Muslims, who make about one-quarter of the population. Pixabay

With the name dispute with Greece now resolved, North Macedonia, which has been an EU aspirant since 2005, hopes to get a clear signal for the start of accession talks in June. Skopje also expects to become the 30th NATO member at the end of the year.

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Stevo Pendarovski, who was elected president in a runoff election on May 5, said he saw his victory as a “ticket for NATO and EU.”

Six Western Balkan countries — Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia — are in various stages of the accession process to join the EU. (RFERL)