Samyuktha Jayanty explores the different types of Mangalsutras across different states in India
Marriage is a sacred and beautiful relationship between two individuals. In Hindu culture, Mangalsutras, worn around the neck, are the token of symbol for marriage similar to how wedding bands symbolize commitment in most parts of the western world.
The mangalsutra is a very important part of the Hindu culture. Mangal meaning holy and Sutra meaning thread, Mangalsutra stands for holy thread. It is typically a yellow thread with black beads strung together; adorning the neck of the bride. The moment that the groom ties this on her neck is the defining moment of their marriage. We at Wedding Vows set about exploring the various states and the different types of Mangalsutras that each one embraces.
Tamil Nadu weddings
In the land of the Tamil people, the Mangalsutra is known as Thaalior, Thirumangalyam, Mangalyam, Thaali, or Kodi – Thaali being the most common. The ceremony during which the groom puts the Thaali on his bride is called Mangalya Dharanam. During the wedding, the Thaali is worn as a Manja Kayiru - a yellow thread which is later replaced with a gold chain or necklace with black beads - Nallapusalu.
The thaali comes in many forms and shapes. Each thaali bears a certain importance depending on the caste or sub- caste of the married couple. Teach one has symbolic representations such as the family deity, and usually weighs between 4 to 8 grams of gold. Generally bought from the groom’s side, the family also adds gold coins, corals, and gold roundels and charms to the main thaali.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana weddings
The Telugu Mangalsutra is also called Mangalasutramu, Pustelu, Maangalyamu, Ramar Thaali, or Bottu – the most common name being Bottu. It consists of two round shaped discs or coins, each coin given by the bride and groom’s side respectively. The groom ties the two gold discs around the bride’s neck, and then ties three knots of the bottu. Subsequently, sixteen days after the wedding, an elder in the family performs a ritual to unite both the discs. The bottu is round and is made of gold. It sometimes has carvings or designs on it and is worn with coral and pearl beads or gold chains.
PUNJABI- SIKH weddings
After the bride’s family goes to the groom’s house carrying gifts like clothes and jewellery, either the bride or the groom’s father gives the groom a gold kada (gents bangle) and gold more (coins). These coins are later are strung into a black thread and given to the bride. This is similar to a mangalsutra, and the Sikhs wear this thread only on special occasions.
The Maharashtrian brides wear a black beaded chain with two bowl shaped vatis which signify Shiva and Shakti. It also signifies the coming together of the bride and groom. Black beads are considered very auspicious and are used to keep the evil eye away and have a happy marriage. The two types of black beads are Nirgun, and Shagun. A Nirgan is when the whole chain is made of black beads and Shagun is when every nine back beads are separated by two gold beads. They tie the vaatis inside out during the wedding, and after one month, during a special ceremony called Mangal sutraparthavana attended by women from both sides, the mangalsutra is set back to its usual avatar.
Syrian Christians use the Minnu, and the Kerala Hindus use Thaali also known as Ela Thaali, Elagu Thaali. The Minnu has a pendant with a cross on a gold medallion shaped like a heart, and the heart symbolises the concept of love. The cross represents the relationship between a husband and a wife. The cross is formed by five or seven gold dots, and the Minnu is passed through seven strands of thread.
On the other hand the Elagu Thaali is in the shape of a leaf, or bears the design of a leaf. Ela means leaf. The Ela Thaali generally also comprises of an Om symbol embossed or cut-out on the leaf-shaped gold sheet.
Kannadigas native to Karnataka, call it Maangalya-Sutra, and it is a bit similar to the Maharashtrian style of managalsutras, consisting of two hollow vatis made out of two round golden plates along with corals, freshwater pearls, semi-precious stones and black stones/beads.
Karthamani Pathak is worn by the women in the Coord region of Karnataka. It is equivalent to a Mangalsutra to them. Pathak is a gold pendant which consists of a large gold coin with Lakshmi or Queen victoria engraved on it and has small round rubies studded on the circumference of the coin. The Karthamani is the neckless worn with the pathak and is made of coral and gold beads.
The women of the Bihar culture wear a Mangalsutra called Taagpaag, a black beaded chain with gold pendant or a pendant of their choice. In addition to the mangalsutra, women in Bihar also wear toe rings known as “bichwa” and these are considered integral to the woman’s reproductive system. The Tagpaag is the Bihari mangalsutra which looks similar to a standard mangalsutra, with a personalized pendant.
Gujarati brides spot a nose stud to signify their married status, and also wear a black bead mangalsutra with an intricate gold pendant. Nowadays, the trend among brides is to wear a diamond pendant with a short chain as they find that more wearable. However, the traditional mangalsutra is still sported among many Gujarati brides.
Non-traditional forms of the Mangalsutra
The Bengali women have no concept of Mangalsutra, but the married women wear Shakha Paula bangles. Usually for daily wear, brides prefer a simple Shakha-Paula, but for grand occasions they choose special ones with gold embedded in them. These are called Shona Badhano Shakha-Pola. The only essential part of the bangle is made of coral, and this cannot be changed. Otherwise, brides can play around with the workmanship, designs and patterns.
Although Kashmiri brides do not wear a mangalsutra, they have something very similar called Dijhor,/Dejhooor. The bride wears earrings made of gold, woven in red thread suspended through her ears, during her wedding day. After the wedding, when the bride goes to her husband’s house, the thread is replaced with a gold chain given by her in-laws called Aath. A small piece of gold ornament called Authoru is also added in some instances.