Wearing of toe rings is highly practiced in India. It is worn as a symbol of married state by Hindu women and is called bichiya (pronounced: bee-chee-ya) in Hindi , Mettelu in Telugu, Metti in Tamil . Toe rings,also known as bichwa, are a must for married Hindu woman.Tradition of wearing toe rings carries tremendous social significance for married Hindu women in India.
With age, designs and patterns of toe-rings have changed but it's relevance in the Hindu society has not altered. Even today these are very much a part of the bride's jewelry.In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, bichwa or toe rings is one of the most important symbols of marriage and women are encouraged to decorate each toe with different rings with myriad motifs ranging from paisley, to fish to flowers. In South India too, toe rings are a symbol of marriage and women wear a heavy ring on the second toe of each foot. Traditionally, toe rings are quite ornate, though more contemporary and simple designs are now being developed to cater to the requirements of modern bride.Some toe rings were fitted with little jingles which would give out a sweet sound every you move around.
There are various types of toe rings like:
1. Toe Bands: which is for the big toes, often rings are complementing the bands, and these look classy.
2. Amvat: these are traditional Indian toe rings.
3. Double Toe Rings: these cover entire toes, looks ethnic.
4. Men’s Toe Rings: these come in classic design in refined bands of silver.
Toe rings are usually adjustable.These rings are seldom closed circles but open hoops so that they could easily be removed. Toe rings usually have a small gap on the bottom of the ring to allow them to slip over the tips of the toe more easily.
During the Vedic times, Sanskrit texts laid down the concept of Sola Shringaar or the sixteen traditional accouterments with which every woman could adorn herself. These were carefully laid down for every part of body. Irrespective of class or economic status, these items of person grooming can be fashioned out of wood, glass, fresh flowers or precious jewels. Toe rings along with anklets were amongst the shringars to help women adorn their feet.
In great Indian epic called 'Ramayana' toe ring plays a vital role. When Seeta was abducted by Ravana, on the way, she throwed her toe ring (kaniazhi) as the identification for lord Rama.This shows that toe ring is used from ancient time .
Toe rings are usually made of silver and worn in pairs (unlike the trend in Western countries, where they are worn singly or in unmatched pairs) on the second toe of both feet. Some 'bichiya sets' may have pairs for four of the five toes, excluding the little pinky. 'Bichiyas' may not be made of gold, as gold holds a 'respected' status and may not be worn below the waist by Hindus, but this is not followed very strictly and toe rings made of gold and diamonds are commonly seen .
Traditionally a large ring was worn on the great toe of the left foot to indicate a married status.As Toe Rings or Bicchwas were considered to be symbolic of married woman, Hindu religion prohibits unmarried girls from wearing Bichhwas. Even in present times, girls refrain from wearing toe-rings before marriage.
Toe rings also symbolize a womans dual status as sister and wife. She wears two sets of toe rings on each foot one for her brother and one for her husband. When either the husband or brother dies, one set is removed. The symbolism is that if her husband were to die then her brother would offer her protection.If you wear a single toe ring on only one foot it means that you're a prostitute.
Some men frequently wore a ring on the big toe for curative purposes or to augment their masculine vigor. Wearing toe ring to the second toe has sexual/erotic effect. The reflexology texts also mention about treating gynecological problems by massaging the second toe.There is also a belief that the wearing of toe rings press on certain nerves that pertain to the reproductive system, keeping it in balance and healthy. Ancient Ayuvedic medicine has long been used along side acupressure. The Indians believe that your "prana" or life force must be in balance in order for you to stay healthy. All of the paths of your "prana" run down to your toes, so the idea that a marital symbol could double up as a reproductive enhancer is not a big stretch.
Presently toe rings are no more used as a traditional ornaments. They are found even in the western countries and have become a great fashion accessory in the modern times. In the western culture toe rings are mainly a fashion statement to decorate the feet.Toe rings are a type of body jewelry that is catching on.They are especially popular during the summer when open toe sandals are often worn. Wearing toe rings has become a craze these days. Though earlier these accessories were only worn by females, now even men are wearing this jewelry. Toe rings have a peculiar ability to make your feet look great.Toe rings are a great add-on to your jewelry collection. They sparkle and grab attention. A small ring can make a huge impact when you want a bit of extra fun. So try a toe ring and join others in enjoying this latest trend.