Mangalsutra- the sacred thread
By Preeta Agarwal
According to Hindu culture Sindoor (red vermillion), Mangalsutra, Toe rings, Bangles and a Nose ring are five signs of the marital status of a women. In this special feature we talk about one of the most sacred symbol of marriage - 'The Mangalsutra'.
Mangalsutra, literally meaning the 'auspicious thread', symbolizes the eternal bond between a husband and wife. A Mangalsutra is tied around the bride's neck by the groom amidst holy deities, chants, prayers and blessings. It's a symbol of a woman's blessed and successful married life.
Photo courtesy- ANS Divyam jewellery, Salem
While the significance remains the same, the name and style of the Mangalsutra varies in the North and the South of India. Called Mangalsutra in the North, the sacred ornament is made of a Gold pendant with a chain interspersed with black beads to ward off the evil eye. Nowadays, the traditional Gold pendant is fast getting replaced with diamond versions.
In South India, the sacred ornament is called 'Thaali', where a small gold ornament is strung on a yellow thread or a gold chain. Thaalis are of different designs, shapes and sizes, depending on the state, the caste or the sub-caste of the bride or groom. The common ones are the Lakshmi thaali (worn by most Hindus), Ramar/Pottu thaali (worn by the Telugus), Ela thaali (worn by the Malayalees) and Kumbha thaali (worn by the Tamils of Kshatriya caste). The groom's family chooses the design based on their family traditions or sometimes the design they like. For Tamil Brahmin brides, the pendant on the mangalsutra indicates the sub-caste of the wearer; it could be shaped like a tulsi (holy basil plant), the conch and holy discus of Lord Vishnu.
The 'Karthamani Pathak' worn by many brides from Karnataka is usually a half sovereign, or a larger gold coin, engraved with Goddess Lakshmi or Queen Victoria, framed by rubies, surmounted by a cobra, with hanging fresh water pearls, and a chain of gold and coral beads on a twisted strand of black glass beads. Usually, the groom ties the thaali in a sacred thread on the wedding day, and later the bride wears the thaali on a gold chain for regular use.
Photo courtesy- Karthik R Yadav
While traditionally, the Mangalsutra which is supposed to be worn at all times, is now worn by some married women only on special traditional occasions complimenting their traditional Indian clothes.
With time, the designs of Mangalsutras have also changed considerably and are now available in different styles - studded with diamonds, semi precious stones and even pearls.
"With changing times, the value of Mangalsutra has not changed, but its style has changed a lot. Young women are more inclined towards trendy Mangalsutras and look for out-of-the box designs. With the concept of 'Diamonds are Forever' the gold pendant in a Mangalsutra is getting replaced by a diamond pendant and a short and single string of black beads. A light diamond pendant with a thin chain of black beads goes very well with any kind of attire. Diamond Mangalsutras have bridged the gap between being traditional and being stylish." states Pallavi Ahuja, General Manager- Design & Product Development, Gitanjali Jewels ltd.