Maharashtrian jewellery contains delicate embossing and craftsmanship, and imbibes patterns left behind by the Marathas and Peshwas dynasties. It is generally carved in gold and silver-combined with other metals. Embellishments such as beads and stones are used to enhance the traditional look of these stunning pieces of jewellery. Maharashtrians also prefer blending in pearl jewellery along with gold, which has several references in Marathi literature and poetry as well.
Here are the typical adornments of a traditional Maharashtrian bride.
The bride ties her hair into a neat, round bun (ambada) and embellishes it with traditional hair jewels called khopa (bejewelled pins) followed by jasmine gajras.
A colorful, jewelled pendant that is hung from the bride’s saree at the waist. The challa is made of gold-plated copper and adorned with diamonds or other jewels. These elements are arranged in a singular design – often a common motif such as peacocks, flowers, or paisley.
This is a unisex ornament, worn by the bride as well as the groom. It is basically a string (sometimes two) of pearls, tied horizontally across the forehead from the temple. There are two more pearl lines that drop from either side of the forehead to the shoulders, beautifully framing the face. The mundavalya are tied after the bride is ready to walk to the mandap. This literally means that she is ready to get married.
Jodvi or toe-rings, always in silver, are gifted by the mother-in-law and signify the bride’s entry in the new household. These are a must for every Maharashtrian bride.
Moti kaan literally translates to “big earrings” in Marathi. Brides will wear heavy, gold earrings that are embellished with colorful jewels and pearls. The earrings will generally be large studs as opposed to dangling earrings, but this practice has evolved in modern times. Kaan earrings in particular refer to the use of pearls in the jewelry.
This is an absolute must for a Maharashtrian bride. It is a choker with 3-4 pearl lines that sit firmly onto it. The off-white pearls are accompanied by a few coloured pearls that add to the beauty of the neckpiece. This essentially comes with a silk string that holds it and can be adjusted at the back of the neck to tighten or loosen it.
As the name suggests, this ornament is originally from the city of Kolhapur in Maharashtra. This necklace is suggestive of the woman’s marital status and is gifted by the groom’s family. In many Maharashtrian communities, a Kolhapuri saaz is as important as the mangalsutra, and many women in rural Maharashtra still wear it every day. It consists of gold beads, gold elements of leaves, petals etc. and a round pendant with a red stone in the centre, woven in a gold wire. Traditionally, this necklace included 21 separate design elements, of which 10 are a reflection of Lord Vishnu’s avatars, 8 are auspicious patterns and two are ruby and emeralds. The last piece is the taviz to protect from evil.
A bride often wears a set of 2 pichodi bangles at each wrist, in additional to green and pearl bangles, to adorn her arms for the wedding ceremony. Pichodi bangles are thin, gold bangles often made with a high-quality gold (24 karat) with a copper base for sturdiness. The bangles can be intricately decorated with religious motifs or floral and animal figures. Modern tradition has enhanced these bangles with precious stones or glass, and some pichodi bangles are made with white gold instead of the traditional yellow.
A traditional Maharashtrian thushi necklace is based on the traditional styles of Kolhapur, in southwest Maharashtra. The necklace is known for its lightweight feel, which is useful considering the bride is wearing quite a lot of gold jewelry on her wedding day. A Kolhapur thushi will always have a dora (string) to tie the golden balls of the necklace together.
Even though the designs have evolved and changed over the years, the meaning and importance of the mangasultra have not changed. It literally means mangal (holy) and sutra (thread). The black beads string end with two golden cups, each standing for the parents’ and the in-laws’ home. It signifies that the bride’s new home and her parents’ home are tied together in a delicate thread. Each golden cup is filled with haldi and kumkum before the husband ties it around the bride’s neck.
Just like the mundavalya and the tanmani, the nath makes a Maharashtrian bride different than the rest. This traditional nosepiece has pearls woven in a typical Paisley shape, and has a white stone in the centre. It comes in different styles, depending on the part of Maharashtra the bride belongs to. A brahmani nath is the most popular design, and is studded with pearls and emeralds. The design of nath also indicates the financial status of the family.
The putli haar, is a gold chain that hangs at least a foot below the bride’s neck. It is another traditional necklace that hails from Kolhapur, and it is made of gold beads or discs closely sewn together. These beads or discs often contain religious motifs of Laxmi or the goddess Sita, who was an avatar of Laxmi – the goddess of wealth. The heavy gold structure of the necklace represents wealth and fortune for the bride and the groom.
This tight, gold choker necklace is made to resemble the sun’s (surya) rays instead of a floral garland. The beads are very closely tied together, and the pointed, triangular beads all face outward to resemble the warming rays of the sun. Colored jewels can also adorn the necklace. A bride will usually wear only one type of choker necklace for her wedding ceremony.
A bride usually wears at least one set of gold toda bangles on her wrists. These bangles are thick gold bands that can be engraved with patterns and motifs. The toda bangles are gifted by the groom’s family and depict the financial status of the family.
Vaaki or armlet is an essential for the Maharashtrian bride. Ideally worn one on each arm, many brides these days wear just one vaaki. A traditional design is in flat, solid gold with precious stones in the centre.