Mangalsutra – The sacred thread of love embedded in tradition
Meaning of Mangalsutra:
Mangal means "sacred" and "Sutra" means thread. Hence Mangalsutra is regarded as `a sacred thread of love and goodwill worn by married women as a symbol of their marriage`. It is tied up by the groom around the neck of the bride.
According to Hindu culture, there are five signs of marital status of women. They are mangalsutra, Toe rings, Kumkum, bangles and a nose ring. Mangalsutra is the most important among them.Wearing the Mangalsutra is also the most important part of a Hindu marriage ceremony.
The most common Mangalsutra is made of two strings of small black beads with two small vatis (tiny bowl) usually in gold. The black beads are believed to protect against evil. Married women wear this to protect their marriage and the life of their husband.
A married Hindu lady can be recognized by the 'mangalsutra'.A lady without a Mangalsutra, is either unmarried or widowed, or say divorced.The chain of gold and black glass beads is known as 'Mangalsutra', a sacred thread - a gift of the husband at the wedding to the wife, that she wears throughout her married life (like the ring in christian marriages).
Significance of Mangalsutra:
It is during marriage ceremony that the true significance of a mangalsutra comes into focus. It is the first piece of jewellery to be brought for the bride-to-be. With its black beads strung on a gold chain, and its intricate pendant, the mangalsutra is among the few traditional pieces of jewellery that still hasn’t lost its significance today.
What is it that makes the mangalsutra so special in every woman's life? In some communities the ritual of the groom placing the mangalsutra around the bride's neck is an essential part of the marriage, along with his applying the sindoor along the parting of her lustrous hair. This is what makes the mangalsutra an indispensable part of the jewellery essentials to be worn by the bride.
The original concept of the mangalsutra was that of a black row of beads to ward of the evil eye. It was meant to protect the wearer and her husband from 'nazar'. However, mangalsutra have, with time, evolved from the black beads strung on a string with a gold pendant to designs with indicate gold pendents, intricate gold filigree and even minakari work. Within the specific designs given, women and their jewelers manage to make unique statements with their mangalsutras.
For those who believe in it, a mangalsutra is much more than a row of black beads strung together. For married women, it is a symbolic representation of deduction, commitment, endurance and tolerance. The auspiciousness of this ornaments has been put to test time and again, and has always triumphed.
Jewellery Rings are the most traditional form of wedding jewellery for both men and women, and universally symbolises a marriage between two individuals. However in Indian marriages, the additional adornment of a 'mangal sutra' or 'thaali' (a small gold pendant worn on a thread or necklace) is the main symbol of matrimony. Tying a thaali around the neck of the bride by the groom, is the most important ceremony in Indian marriages. Wearing of 'chura' (set of red bangles given to the bride from her maternal side of the family) and toe rings (which the bridegroom puts on the brides toes) are also traditional symbols of marriage. The kind of ornament, of course, depends on the community to which she belongs and their particular customs.
Patterns and Designs of Mangalsutra:
The traditional 'mangalasutra' usually in gold, comes in various forms and sizes -some with auspicious symbols depicting 'Om' or gods like Vishnu or Shiva (for Hindus) and others with traditional designs. Nowadays more fashionable versions with diamonds and precious stones are also seen. In the south especially in Tamil Nadu and in a few other states, Thaali's are tied on a thick yellow thread. When the thread is worn out, they are replaced by a new thread. Generally, in the northern states Mangalsutra is worn on a chain with two strings of black beads interspersed with gold. These beads are believed to protect the marriage against evil.
Today, the mangalsutra has made a comeback as a must-have fashion accessory for every bride. With pendants have changed in shape from the traditional designs to more contemporary versions made in gold, the basic concept remains the same. Funky pendants to go along with the chain are now in fashion.
Though the style and fashion of the Mangalsutra has kept changing over time, the craze of demand has never weakend. The Gold and the black beads have endured over time as a symbol of ever lasting devotion between a husband and wife. It is still symbol of devotion and love for someone special.