In the Hindu culture or tradition the mangalsutra holds an important place, especially with the wedded women of that religion. Hindu women hold the mangalsutra, to be a very significant bond with their husband, similar to the wedding rings in western culture. Most of the married Hindu women wear the mangalsutra as long as they are not widowed, as a sign of their married life.
The mangalsutra is simply not another jewelry item and has a lot of significance in Hindu marriage, and more importantly reflects the goodwill and love of the marriage. Traditionally, mangalsutra would have been an ornament hanging from chain of black-beads, or yellow threads and is considered to be the most important ornament, depicting the marital status of a woman, along with the vermilion. On the wedding day it is customary for the groom to tie the mangalsutra, on the bride’s neck, symbolizing their union as a married couple.
Although the original name remains mangalsutra, derived from the words “mangal” and “sutra”, it is known by many other names in the various states of the country; in Telegu it is called thaaly and maangalyam in Tamil. The real meaning of the word mangalsutra is auspicious thread, and the word itself seems to have generated in South India, and then passed on to the North in subsequent times. On various occasions it has been seen that women do not wear a mangalsutra, but this definitely does not mean that she is a widow or unmarried.
With the evolving cultural trends, women have also become westernized and may not wear a mangalsutra all the time, as a token of their marriage. Many women consider it to be an important jewelry that could be stylized anytime they feel like, during the day or according to their wish. For this reason the designers take great care in designing a mangalsutra for any occasion; they may be highly crafty or a simple thing to wear around the neck. Although earlier only the groom’s side made the choice, nowadays the bride may also have a say about the style of mangalsutra, she would wear.
Life in India is all about ceremonies and rituals. Right from the time one is born to the time one dies, a person sees a lot of rituals in his life. Comparing the India now with the India that was just about 100 years ago, let alone ancient times, one would hardly find any similarities, apart from the poverty of course. A lot of rituals have been forgotten or just simply ignored due to the lack of time; but having said that, there are still a few things that Hindus follow very religiously. One of them is wearing the Mangalsutra by any married Indian woman.
The Mangalsutra is a simple thread dipped in turmeric or saffron that the groom ties around the neck of the bride when they get married with exactly three knots. Each of the three knots has a separate meaning. The third knot is tied by the sister-in-law. Tying the Mangalsutra in front of the fire binds the bride and the groom in a holy matrimony.
As times progress, so does everything. These days, the Mangalsutra can be found in black beads with a gold pendant each having a different name in different parts of the country. Also the basic form of the Mangalsutra has different shapes in different states. Some even like to wear one completely made of gold as was the tradition in the ancient times. That’s what the gold smiths bank on during the marriage season, as if not anything, the bride would at least buy the Mangalsutra. And with all the designer stuffs coming all over the world, why should the little Mangalsutra be left alone. Search the internet and you would find a whole array of beautiful designer Mangalsutras, all to cater to, what they call Generation Next. The newly found economic boom in India allows today’s young bride-to-be to experiment with these age old traditions.
A new bride in those days would proudly flaunt her Mangalsutra in front of the world, but these days, it seems like just an article of decoration around the neck of a woman. The concept of a woman wearing a Mangalsutra is to show the world that she’s married.