Wedding symbols are a part of your married life that show the world that you’re married. Certain elements like sindoor in the parting of your hair, the Mangalsutra dancing on your neck, and even the marriage bangles are all part of the Indian cultural norms that are meant to signal that a woman is married. However, though we see them all around us, have you ever wondered where these wedding symbols came from?
Let us take a closer look into the history and meaning behind some of the most commonly seen wedding symbols in India so that you can decide whether you want to wear them or not!
1. The Sindoor
Did you know that the sindoor is nearly 5,000 years old? This tradition was followed way back by the inhabitants of the Harappan civilisation, according to historians. Made from Vermillion, sindoor is most commonly used in its powder form. During the wedding ceremony, the husband smears some of this red powder onto the parting of his wife’s hair. This signals that the two are married. While many women choose to rub it off the next day, millions of women begin their day by sprinkling a little bit of sindoor on their heads. For them, showing that they are matter becomes a matter of pride and not wearing sindoor feels like an inauspicious thing.
Sindhoor can be considered as one of the most important wedding symbols for a woman as it is her way of showing her devotion to her husband. It also symbolises the husband’s long life.
Also known as Kumkum, this red vermillion is now available in liquid form so that women can apply it quickly without creating a mess.
2. The Mangalsutra
Image Courtesy: Daphne Bazaar
One of the most well-known wedding symbols, the Mangalsutra is a type of jewellery that all married women wear. Historians have found evidence of this particular wedding symbol as early as the 6th century AD, during which husbands would just tie a plain yellow thread around their wives’ neck to prevent any evil eye from settling upon her. This tradition has evolved in many ways, with the South Indian Talli being the closest to the yellow threaded archetype – women wear a yellow chain that has a gold pendant.
In other parts of the country, this jewellery piece looks a bit different. The most typically seen variant is the one made of a black chain with a gold pendant at the end, however, like almost all other jewellery forms, there are a ton of mangalsutra designs for women to choose from to use a traditional piece to express their personalities. Some designs even include diamonds and are apt for women who love their bling.
The reason why modern Mangalsutras are made of black beads is that it is believed that they absorb all the evil eye that happens to fall on the woman. As per tradition, this is one of the wedding symbols that the groom must purchase for the bride. He then ties it around her neck during the wedding ceremony, around the same time that the sindoor is applied. Some people wear this symbol for life while others take it off the next day.
3. The bangles
There are two ways that bangles work as wedding symbols. In many cultures, such as the Punjabi, Bengali and Rajasthani cultures, brides wear white and red plastic bangles on the day of their wedding. In the Punjabi context, these bangles are gifted to the bride by the maternal uncle and are adorned on her during the Chura ceremony.
While these marriage bangles do mark a woman as married, they are not meant to be worn forever. In some cultures, the bride removes them after a few days, while in other cultures, she must wear them for at least a year.
The second way that bangles work as wedding symbols is that in many cultures, it is believed that only married women get to wear bangles. Once widowed, a woman’s bangles are often broken to symbolise that she has lost her husband. She is then never allowed to wear bangles again. At the same time, the sindoor is smeared off and the Mangalsutra is taken away, showing that these wedding symbols are the most important ones when it comes to showing a woman’s marital status.
When you’re getting married, you should take some time to consider whether you want to wear them or not. In some families, of course, there isn’t a choice regarding the matter as they want to uphold traditional values, however, in others, women can decide for themselves if they want to wear these symbols daily. Whichever you decide, remember that your marriage is more than just these artefacts! It’s about your love, compassion, and togetherness!
To ensure that you’ve got all other essential wedding symbols sorted for your wedding ceremony, get in touch with our professional pandits!