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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
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  • 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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  • Aparna Gupta

    Different colors and types of bangles also resembles different occasions. Also, there are rituals related to bangles in marriages and various festivals.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Not only a sign of cultural significance, bangles make a woman look beautiful and is a very attractive accessory

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  • Aparna Gupta

    Different colors and types of bangles also resembles different occasions. Also, there are rituals related to bangles in marriages and various festivals.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Not only a sign of cultural significance, bangles make a woman look beautiful and is a very attractive accessory

Next Story

Puja for The Spiritualism, Not for Vulgar Entertainment

The westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures" and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those "holy books" only in the drawers of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods' idols !!!

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Hinduism
he westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures"

By Salil Gewali

Any auspicious days in Hinduism are expected to be observed with a complete purity of action and thought. The same holds true for other religions too. As per the Hindu scriptures, the believers are required to stay away from any kind of sense gratifications, particularly when the specific days are dedicated to Gods and Goddess such as Navratri, Laxmi Puja, Krishna Janmashtami, Shivaratri, to name a few. The pathway to devotion and spiritualism should not be “desecrated” by the blot of the brazen entertainment. The scriptures logically explain why it is antithetical, and its adverse consequences.

Hindusim
Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.

 But, what a huge irony, rather a blasphemy that many people these days have started to choose the auspicious days of Gods to satisfy their base senses. Without a wee bit of regret, a certain class of people holds almost every auspicious day as the most “unmissable” occasion to booze with the friends, and what not, and stagger back home, lol! Such bizarre practices are fast catching now than ever.  Sadly, hardly any conscious people and spiritual organizations stand up and take the right measures to check such godless deviations.

What is quite unpleasant is that such a kind of unholy practices are often being facilitated by certain “Hindu intuitions” as well. On this past Laxmi Puja, the “propitious time” to perform the ritual had fallen between 6 PM to 7:53 PM. Yours truly decided to use that span of time for meditation. But hell broke loose. Apart from fireworks around, the Bollywood songs in high decibel burst forth from a certain Hindu institution quite frustrated the mission.

Hindusim
Sadhu Sanga Retreat, 2016

 One senior citizen laments – “Nothing could be irreligious than the fact that a favorable time for “puja” is also being used for the wrongful purposes. We rather expect the “Hindu institutions” to teach our children Bhajan, Kirtan, and other spiritual activities, not the loud and feverish parties and disturb others.”

Another college student adds “Having been much disturbed by the noise pollution, I have persuaded my parents to shift our place of residence to elsewhere, not at least near holy places with an unholy mission. I have started to see such institutions with the eyes of suspicion these says.” Is it that our institutions are unable to use their “discretion”, and as a result, they fail to differentiate between right and wrong?  One is deeply apprehensive that Bollywood songs and vulgar dances might as well be included as a part of the “puja ritual” as we have long accepted the fun of fireworks bursting as an integral part of Laxmi Puja which in fact is just an entrenched “misconception”.

Hinduism
Hinduism is expected to be observed with a complete purity of action

Needless to say, our roar for consumerism has almost drowned the whisper of inherent spiritualism. We are only just sending out the wrong messages. I’m afraid, the whole culture itself might be looked down with derision by other faiths. It might just become a subject of ridicule! It is no exaggeration, such negative notions against the “wrong practices” are all what we often read these days in several newspapers and social media. Do we want others to demean our profound spiritual heritage thus?  I believe it calls for a serious soul-searching.

Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.  It warns in the strongest terms that mankind should absolutely be careful not to fall under the influence of any short-lived sense gratifications. Or else, our endeavor to “practice and preserve” the sanctity of a religion/spiritualism will be a futile exercise.

However, on the other hand, the westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our “scriptures” and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those “holy books” only in a drawer of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods’ idols !!!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.

Twitter:@SGewali.