Saturday, October 03, 2009

Do you wear a mangalsutra daily?

Mangalsutra is a string of beads worn in the neck as a necklace by married women in the Hindu religion as a symbol of marriage. Various parts of India have varying protocols for the structure of a Mangalsutra.

The common thing between all Mangalsutra is the fact that it has black beads or enamel and gold. The black color is to help ward off the evil eye and the gold is to symbolize the power of the woman as Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth.

In North India, the black beads originally black onyx are strung together with a special joint known as the Mangalsutra joint, especially by the Brahmin craftsmen and is believed to be blessed by the Gods. The Mangalsutra joint is actually a handcrafted loop and ball joint which is made very carefully stringing each individual bead on an individual loop of gold and woven into the next loop. This ensures that even if the Mangalsutra happens to break, it will not let the beads fall apart and hence suggests the way a marriage will last through all tough times.

In Eastern parts of India, a Mangalsutra is worn in form of a bangle made out of an alloy of metals which gives it a rich black color. It has a gold casing around parts of it.

In Southern parts of India, the Mangalsutra is called the Thali and can be of various patterns. The most common one is representing Balaji. Some Mangalsutras have 2 discs and a symbol in the middle representing the male to whom the woman is wed. In olden days, even children wore thaalis made out of tiger teeth, tiger nails and covered with gold. The concept was similar, to defend the wearer from the evil eye. It

As a general rule, in India, a Mangalsutra is worn with the same emotion as the engagement ring is in the Western countries.

However, with the changing times, and hence dressing sense and social protocols, most women have accepted an engagement ring as the symbol of matrimony over a Mangalsutra. The Mangalsutra still holds its sanctity as the most important exchange of jewel DURING the wedding ceremonies. The woman still wears this auspicious jewel on major religious festivals such as Karwachauth, Diwali, Holi etc.

But when the Indian woman accepted the Western dress code and gave up wearing sarees to work, she had no option but to give up on wearing Mangalsutras in her daily routine as well. The reason was simple, gold and black beads especially when on a heavy neckpiece, will not go well with a pant suit or a dress suit which calls for more subtle accessories.

Even though I am no judge or advocate in favor of or against the wearing of Mangalsutra is daily wear, I believe that the marriage of two beings happens within the souls of those individuals and the wearing or not wearing of any jewel including engagement rings, wedding rings or Mangalsutras can shake it.

Jewelry should be as comfortable as you would like to be through the day and it is a must that you feel comfortable in all accessories you wear every day. May it be for the look or for the feel, go with the flow and enjoy your Mangalsutra when you decide it is time to wear it.

Nonetheless, for those of you who would anyways want to wear a mangalsutra in everyday without having to live with the 'bold gold' look, you can try some of the following tips;
  1. Try wearing a very short necklace made of very tiny beads of Mangalsutra which sits really close to the neck and hence looks trendy.
  2. You could opt for the diamond pendant Mangalsutras which is the latest craze and looks fancy and yet wearable with Western outfits
  3. Try rhodium polish on the gold part of the Mangalsutra which could be an interesting combination
  4. Detachable pendants give very good options for versatility of the Mangalsutra
  5. Try a really long Mangalsutra which will get covered under your shirt and stand out boldly with a saree
  6. Try the Bangle Mangalsutra which looks chic at the same time as serving its purpose
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