Jewelry is a very important part of the overall appearance of the Indian bride. The bridal look is incomplete unless the bride is wearing conventional wedding jewelry pieces. In most Indian weddings, the bride will be wearing yellow gold jewelry. Depending on the family’s budget, some Indian brides might choose platinum, silver, white gold or diamond jewelry as an alternative. Emerald, jade, amethyst, garnet, pearl and ruby are some of the precious stones used in Indian bridal jewelry. One could see some modification in bridal jewelry across regions in India but the main pieces will remain constant.
Types of Indian bridal jewelry
There is a jewelry for almost all the body parts, including arms, ankles, ear, fingers, hair, neck, nose, toes, waist etc
Anguthi (finger rings): Anguthi is an integral part of the wedding jewellery. The engagement ring is worn in the ring finger of the left hand by the bride. It could be a plain band made of metal or could have various motifs and patterns embossed stones set in it. Apart from the engagement ring, in the ring finger of her left hand, the bride will wear one or more gold/diamond rings in the other fingers.
Baaju Band (arm bands): Baaju band or Armlet is worn a little above the elbow and comes in various designs and shapes. In ancient India, this was worn by men as well. A bride may choose to wear this, however, more as a fashion accessory than a must to be. Some brides wear one in each of the arms, while other go for a single piece only.
Bichhua (toe ring): An essential part of the bridal jewelry, in many states of India, bichhua comprises a toe ring, usually in silver. These, like payals are worn in pairs and is a sign of a married women. They could be simple rings, or could have small studs of colored stones, or elaborate patterns such as a peacock etc. Traditionally, jewelery worn on the feet is not made in gold, however, newer trends do have lots of designs in gold.
Chudi (bangles): The importance of bangles could be gauged from the fact that some communities have an elaborate ceremony only for this before the actual marriage. In the ceremony, the bride is made to wear the bangles in specified colors by her relatives. Bangles are mostly thin, measuring about 1/8th of an inch, whereas the kadas (bracelets) are usually thicker, starting from a centimeter wide and as wide as an inch or more. In some of the cases (like Punjabi weddings), the glass bangles are replaced by ivory ones, in red and white color (called chuda). Wedding bangles could be adorned with precious and semi-precious stones. It is considered inauspicious for a married woman to let her hands be bare and without bangles. Traditionally, a married woman and a bride-to-be used to wear red glass bangles, however, things are changing and now a days, brides mostly wear bangles made of metal.
Hathphool (bracelet with rings): Hathphool is a beautiful piece of jewelry that adorns the wrist as well as the fingers of the bride. It comprises a bracelet, with one of the more strings attached to it, having rings(s) at the other end.
Jhumki (earrings): Bridal Earrings are usually made of precious metals, studded with stones. A very typical traditional Indian design that every bride must have is the ‘Jhumka’. The newer trends include chandelier ear rings, which are made in diamond and resemble the chandelier. For a bride, mostly ear rings are in precious metals and in intricate designs and patterns.
Kamarband (waist band): Kamarband or tagdi are to be worn at the waist. These are delicate chains which could be slipped along the waist or could have elaborate patterns made using coins, beads in precious and semi-precious metals. These lend a delicate grace to the wearer and should be worn with midriff baring apparel such as sari or lehenga. A heavy piece of jewelry, it was meant to support the wedding dress and keep in place. These days, it might or might not be worn by the bride.
Maang Tikka: In the Hindu tradition, a lot of emphasis is given to the hair parting. Traditionally, married women are supposed to put vermillion in their parting, or wear maang teeka, as a symbol of their married status. A maang teeka is a small chain worn on the head at the parting of the hair, one end, hooked to the hair and the other end delicately dangling at the forehead of the wearer. The part that dangles at the forehead is a form of pendant. The teeka could be made in any kind of metal and could have various designs and should be in sync with the other pieces of jewelery worn by the bride. Today women wear Maang Tika in different styles, and the most popular one is in which there is a very heavy centre piece with a hook at the rear end.
Mangal Sutra (necklace with black beads): The most important part of the bridal jewelry is mangal sutra. Mangalsutra is the symbol of being married and is worn by Hindu ladies in the greater part of Western and southern India. It is a long thread (mostly yellow in color) with a string of black beads, with a gold pendant and is an auspicious thread which the groom ties around the neck of his wife at the wedding ceremony. This thread symbolizes the love and attachment with which the husband and wife will be tied to each other throughout their lives. There are quite a few variations of the mangalsutra available in the market today.
- A traditional mangalsutra has with black and yellow beads and a gold pendant;
- Then there is a diamond pendant attached to a plain black thread or a beaded yellow and gold thread.
- Sometimes the gold chain is interspersed between two chains of black and gold beads.
Nath (nose ring): Nath signifies the beginning of a happy married life. It comprises of a studded nose ring, which has a long chain attached to it. The chain is hooked up in the hair of the bride, above the ear. The nose ring could be a plain simple stud in gold/silver/diamond or colored stone. Or it could be more elaborate as well, in the form of a decorative ring, which could be held in place by a long chain, having its loose end tucked into the hair, behind the ear. The nath keeps reinventing itself, and you could have naths with beautiful filigree work or with stone and bead work. Wearing nose ring nowadays has become a vogue and even the young girls wear very fashionable nose rings even before getting married.
Payal (anklet): Along with the toe ring, a bride also wears payal, also known as pajeb, as a part of her wedding jewelry. It is a chain which comes in a pair and is worn on both the ankles. These are mostly in silver and have a lot of traditional designs and delicate patterns (such as meenakari, kundan or beads as decorations). Some of them may also have small metallic bells which rub against each other to emit a melodious sound when the bride moves. A single anklet in plated metals and threads having multi-color beads or bells or other such design features, are also worn by young, unmarried girls as a fashion statement.