Translated into the English language it means the sacred thread and for the Indian women, it signifies a bond and a connection which entwines the threads of her heart with that of her husband. It is the Mangalsutra we are talking about, a piece of jewelry which forms an essential part of a Hindu marriage ceremony, not only as an important ritual but also as a piece of jewelry which becomes an integral part of the married woman’s life.
The Mangalsutra is a part of those jewelry items which Indian women wear to signify that they are married and are a sign of their love for their husband. It stays as a part of the woman’s daily attire until death does them part. It is believed that the black beads of a Mangalsutra not only serve as evil eye protection for the husband but also harness the positive energy to protect the married couple. During the Hindu Vedic marriage ceremony the groom ties the sacred Mangalsutra on the neck of the bride, marking the start of their sacred union.
Just like our culture, the Mangalsutra too has several forms in which it is made and worn by women across India. Not only in its looks but the Mangalsutra also is quite unique when it comes to its names in different Hindu communities and cultures. The Marathi culture has the ‘Vati’ while down south you would know the Mangalsutra as the ‘Minnu’ or ‘Thaali’. The valleys of Kashmir have their ‘Dejhoor’ while in the Bihari language it is called the ‘Taagpaag’. Whatever the name or the design, the essence and the significance of the Mangalsutra remains the same.
Across every culture, this sacred piece of jewelry takes a uniquely different yet gorgeous form. The Dejhoor, for instance, is made in the form of earrings woven into sacred red thread by the girl’s family. Once the girl gets married she receives a golden chain called the ‘Aath’ from her husband’s family and the earring is put into the gold chain which becomes a short Mangalsutra.
The ‘Thali’ or the Tamil Mangalsutra has sacred images like that of Tulsi plant, Lord Shiva or goddess Meenakshi embossed on the pendant which is added to a gold chain or a chain of black beads known as ‘Nallapusalu’. The Gujarati Mangalsutra on the other hands is a little more towards the ostentatious side with the pendant made generally out of gold and diamonds and set in a chain of black beads. Vati Mangalsutra or the Maharashtrian Mangalsutra gets its name from two vatis or small bowl shapes attached to the string of black beads. This Mangalsutra is called a Nirgun Mangalsutra when the whole chain is crafted out of only black beads. When after every nine black beads there are two gold ones, the design is called a Shagun Mangalsutra.
In all the weddings the Mangalsutra ceremony is deemed very pious and important and it signifies the unification of two individuals who pledge to spend their lives together. With more and more women today opting to lead a corporate life while balancing the home front, their attire also has undergone a change to blend in with the work culture. The Mangalsutra too has taken cues from this modernization and we can see the traditional designs sharing space with the trendy ones. These modern designs of the short Mangalsutra offer ease of wearing, utility and look amazing and not out of place with the western attire. Wearing a long Mangalsutra with the office attire is not feasible and women are going in for trendy designs in their Mangalsutra like a bracelet or ones without pendants.