A woman needs no reason to adorn herself but Indian tradition makes it easy for her by giving her some compulsive ones.
Since aeons a woman is
known to adorn herself with as many accessories as she could
physically manage to carry. If there were bells on her toes, there
were rings on her fingers and belts on her waist not to mention the
necklaces around her neck. In India there are texts that describe
her many adornments in details and even the many ways in which she
should make herself up.
No feminist movement has
been able to wipe away this penchant for adornment, more so because
all of them are couched in beliefs of prosperity and happiness. They
are symbols of a secure future.
The most eloquent example
of this are the symbols that identify a married woman from the
unmarried. A married woman would never he caught without these
accessories. She believes the happiness and life of her marriage is
embodied in them!
You must have seen many
women wear the bindi or the dot on the forehead. There are
many reasons attributed to why a woman should wear a bindi.
Some say its place between the eyes on the forehead is a spirtitual
centre, the colour of which is red.
To awaken it and nourish
it, a woman wears the red dot on her forehead. Tantrics say that it
is the spot by concentrating on which a person can be easily
hypnotized. So a woman wears it as a security against Tantrics.
Extending the argument
further is the feeling that when there is a bindi on the forehead,
the intensity with which anybody can gaze into the persons eye
is reduced. The bindi is believed to distract attention and
so it is believed that women will not be hoodwinked by any man.
There are yet others who
say that to keep a womans amorous feelings heightened in a
society that is restraining on her, she wears the red mark on her
forehead and along the parting of her hair.
If that is one way of
looking as it, jewellery designers say in those days when women and
men wore a lot of jewellery, women wore a piece on the parting of
their hair. This piece fell on to the forehead either as a big pearl
or a beautifully designed pendant. When women stopped wearing this
piece of jewellery, they started wearing the bindi.
It is for these reasons
that a bindi got inextricably involved with the marital status of a
woman. Today, however, most urban women have not heard of any such
explanations. They wear it as an ornament and it comes in different
colours and shapes.
All you have to do is to
sick it on to your forehead. In earlier times it was a powder in
varying shades of red, one of the main components of which was
turmeric powder. Turmeric powder is considered very auspicious and
so once again it is associated with fertility, prosperity and good
In South India, the bindi
is worn even before marriage, but for an older woman it signifies her
marital status. In some northern states and in Bengal, the sindoor
is worn all along the parting of the hair. Only a married woman
wears it this way. In fact her husband is supposed to fill the
parting with sindoor (vermilion) and thus marry her.
Another symbol common to
women across the country is the mangal sutra also called the
thali. Different communities have fashioned specific chains worn for
the first time by a woman at the time of her marriage and she is
never to take it off as long as her husband lives.
There are some
communities that perform special prayers to the chain while wearing
it around their necks. No wonder then that women want this chain to
be thick, with large quantities of gold, for ornamentation apart, its
strength will, they believe be in direct proportion to the strength
of their marriage.
In South India, two
chains are worn. One is a golden one and the other a thick thread
coated with turmeric. Both of them have a thali woven into
them. The thali is a rectangular piece that bears the cast mark.
The shape of the thali may, however, change from community to
community. In Maharashtra, women wear black beads around their neck
as symbols of marriage.
In the western state of
Bengal, a red Bengal with gold work and a white bangle made form
conch shell are worn together as a sign of marriage. In Rajasthan
ivory bangles signify martial status.
In many parts of the
country, toe rings are also a sign of a happily married woman. Toe
rings are made of silver and gold and they are worn on the first toe.
If you catch the vain woman you may see it on all her toes. In a
tribe in Arunachal Pradesh, huge anklets of bamboo rings in bright
colours used to be worn around womens ankles to signify that
they were married.
In another tribe, tattoos
signified the marital status of women. In a tribe in central India,
the sari itself was worn in a different manner after marriage. This
is true even in Tamil Nadu where before marriage the style of draping
the sari changed and for this style nine yards were required.
Today, in urban India
thalis are worn for decoration rather than sentimental reasons while
in rural India, they are being embedded with diamonds purely for
sentimental reasons. Toe rings are the ethnic in-things and come in
fascinating shapes, sizes and designs, Bindis, ofcourse are in
infinite number of colours and there are even some little blocks with
the help of which you can stamp a very complicated design on your