Preparing for her wedding is the most joyous time in the life of a woman. It is the culmination of many cherished dreams nurtured since her earliest years and a springboard for her anticipation of a blissful union with the man of her dreams.
In fact it is a dream come true for every girl to be a bride and begin a new chapter of her life with a man who understands, respects and cherishes her for exactly who she is. And especially if they are an Indian couple their sacred union is sealed not just with a kiss, but sanctified with a Mangalsutra. No Indian wedding is complete without a Mangalsutra ceremony.
Most Indian communities cherish the tradition of presenting the bride with a mangal sutra as a part of the wedding rituals. The words "mangal sutra" literally mean "auspicious thread" and a Mangalsutra signifies the well being and longevity of the husband.
A married woman is expected to wear a Mangalsutra throughout her life as it is believed to enhance the well being of her betrothed. So integral is it to the Indian wedding rituals that even the Adi Shankara emphasized its importance in his famous treatise, the Soundarya Lahari .
Black beads are integral to a Mangalsutra
A ritual Mangalsutra is made of black beads strung with a black or yellow thread ritually prepared with turmeric.. Depending on the region it may consist of gold, white or red beads. It is worn by many communities with their own variations.
It is called thaali or maangalyam in Tamil, mangal sutra in Marathi, mangalyasutra and thaali in Kannada, mangalasutramu or pustelu in Malayalam. Konkanis, both Hindu and Christian, traditionally wear three necklaces known as dharemaani or muhurtmaani (big golden bead), a mangal sutra with one or two gold discs and a kasithaali with gold and coral beads.
The Kerala Christians are also known to wear a Mangal Sutra style ornament called a minnu.
In Andhra Pradesh a Mangalsutra is made in an elaborate manner. It consists of two separate coin size gold discs separated by two or three beads of different kinds. As per tradition one of the discs is given by the family of the groom and the other by the family of the bride.
Mangal Sutras also come in a variety of designs and the common one include the Lakshmi thali and pustelu worn by Telugu brides. Ela Thalli or minnu worn by Malyalee brides and the kumbha Thaali worn by Kshatriya Tamils.
In case you are wondering about the origins of the typical stone studded pendant style Mangalsutra seen in Bollywood movies, this style originates in Gujrat and Marwar where gemstones are processed and hence easily available and popular.
Therefore the bride is often given a diamond pendant in a gold chain with black beads. However it is considered to be more ornamental than authentic. More contemporary designs are in vogue for the fashion conscious brides these days and most of them are variations of this particular style.
Indian women may choose to wear an ornate Mangalsutra, or a simple one with just a bunch of black beads strung together, but either way they hold it in high regard. On some festivals the Mangalsutra is even worshipped and anointed with ritual offerings like tilak and this is because in some beliefs it is an embodiment of the husband himself.
Surely the Mangalsutra is a piece of jewellery unique to the culture of the Indian Subcontinent and holds special meaning and sacred significance. It is an embodiment of the consecrated union of a husband and wife and a constant and lifelong reminder to each of them of their mutual devotion and affection.
Article By : Bhavna R