Indian women have traditionally been shrouded into being an oppressed section. This image has been propagated far and wide. With this article I want to show a different version of a beautiful Indian Lady. From Razia Sultana to Rani Lakshmi Bai, women in this sub-continent have shown valor and the likes of Gaytri Devi showed the grace besides the valor. Moving from this extraordinary echelon to a common lady, the beauty can still be found in the way she conducts herself, the way she dresses. Here are 10 accessories which look simple to naive eyes but the meaning behind them defines strong values and bonds she shares with herself, her family and her society. We Indians are touted to be too emotional, too dramatic. But the flavor of India can’t be comprehended without the emotions. So let’s start the list of accessories and the value we attach to them.
10. Toe ring (bichhiya)
The ring is usually worn on the longest toe of the feet. Indian women wear them in sets on both feet and this is a symbol of being a married women. The western world has adapted this as a fashion trend and is worn as a colorful band. The design and patterns are intricate and have been developed over generations. Usually the band is metal, silver, diamonds and even glass. Use of gold has been controversial as gold worn below waist is considered inauspicious. Modern brides however wear gold bichiyas with pride.
9. Anklets (Payal)
Ankle rings or Anklets are known as Payal in India. Same as the trend followed for toe-rings, Indians wear them in both feet. They are usually made of silver or gold and have the sweet sound associated with arrival of a lady in several of Indian sit-coms and movies. Payal has found its way into many melodies of ages. The history says that the links of both the anklets are intertwined to make the steps of women smaller and more feminine. This practice has been stopped now or is practiced in secret. It is a sign of an Indian Lady and is love of many young ladies.
8. Waist-band ( kamarband)
One of the sleekest and sexiest accessories adorned by an Indian lady is the kamarband or the waist-band. It is a bride’s most loved accessories and rests on the delicate waistline of the bride. It is an accessory worn on the sari or for the modern lady it is worn on the low waist saris or ghagra-cholis. In this age it is coupled with low waist jeans as well. This is an accessory that high-light the feminine nature of the lady.
The bands worn on hands require no introduction. Worn by women all over the world, they are colorful lively and represent the women spirit. The tradition states that Indian women put on glass bangles and her honeymoon ends only when the last bangle breaks. The heaviness of the bangles is traditionally said to press the veins on the wrist which help in pulse modulation and is said to help in begetting a child. The single bangle is called as Kara; it is wider than the bangles. The Punjabi’s have tradition of gifting a gold Kara to the groom. The sound of the bangles is akin to that of payal and is associated with femininity.
The Vena amoris is the vein of love and is directly connected from the ring-finger of the left hand to the heart. This is why the wedding band or the ring is placed on the left hand. Traditionally the finger rings are seen as the token of love and exchanged during wedding. People however wear rings on all four fingers and the thumb. The gem-stones to reign in temper, to succeed are made into rings and worn by people all over the globe.
Mangala stands for pure or holy, Sutra stands for thread. It is the holy sign of a married lady. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a compulsory custom with women and is practiced by choice not force. The simple thread is made of turmeric and has black beads with a golden locket or pendent. it can be made out of gold as well. it can be compared to wedding band of the west. It is said that groom ties three knots of the thread around the neck and it embarks the journey of life.
4. Nose ring ( nathni)
The nose ring is worn by many Indian Girls since they are toddlers and become a part of their personality. They are a part of a brides attire and married ladies in some parts wear this by choice. The nath or nathni as it is referred to, is said to keep the women’s pride and vanity in check. Sometimes the nose rings extends to the ear in a delicate chain.
In rural parts of India, many boys and girls have their ears pierced in a traditional ceremony by the age of five. Many a times, this is done several days into the birth of the child. Maximum of the Indian girls have their ears pierced at least once. Into adulthood they go for multiple piercings as well. It is made from gold/silver embedded with precious stones like diamonds, rubies, emeralds and pearls. The new generation has brought in new trends in this front replacing heavy set traditional fashion with simpler lighter versions.
Placed strategically between the eyebrows, on the forehead, it is a small colored dot usually red. It has evolved in significance over the years. One of the oldest significance of the bindi is that it covers the sixth-chakra, ajna. It is the exit point of powerful energy and the bindi helps in concentration and developing wisdom. This can be seen from the images of Buddha which show the gaze turned towards the spot between the forehead and this enforces the belief of the concentration point. The Bindi then evolved to being a religious symbol and the Muslim women refrained from it, giving it a stronger hold of being a symbol of Hindu Women. Today, young Indian ladies use it as an accessory in daily life. It comes in various colors, shapes sizes.
One more follow up on the bindiya, this is one delicate chain with hook on one end and bejeweled bindiya or pendent at the other end. The ‘mang’ is the partition of the hair and tikka is the bindiya. This accessory extends from the hair to the sixth chakra, ajna where the pendent rests. This is worn by brides, by ladies with saris and traditional Indian outfits and have become a regular with the runways as well. The Mang-tikka can be extensive in design and intricate in pattern.