Why do Married Hindu Women Wear the Necklace of Black Beads – the Mangalsutra? December 15, 2016 – Posted in: Blog
As we all know, the mangalsutra plays a very important role in any Hindu wedding jewellery. Tied with three knots by the groom around the bride’s neck during the time of Mangalya Dharanam in the wedding, this sacred thread identifies the woman as married to the man from that moment onwards. This piece of jewellery is usually made of black beads strung on a black or yellow piece of thread that’s made with turmeric, or a gold or silver cord. White, gold or red beads may also be added to the mangalsutra.
So, what’s the significance of the Mangalsutra?
‘Mangala sutram’ literally translates to ‘an auspicious thread’, signifying its meaning to be something very holy. Without the mangalsutra, the marriage between a Hindu man and woman is not complete. It’s a symbol of the inseparable bond between a husband and wife just as the bond between Lord Shiva and Parvati.
The importance of the mangala sutra was mentioned by Adi Shankara in his popular work called Soundarya Lahari. According to the Hindu customs, this holy thread is to be worn for the long life of the husband. It is also said to protect the marriage from evil. The black thread are believed to absorb negative energy and keep the married couple happy. The three knots indicate three different aspects of a married woman, the first stands for her obedience to the husband, the second for her respect to his parents, and the third implies her reverence for God.
Based on this religious belief and custom, married women wear the mangalsutra throughout their married life so that the well-being of their significant other is always maintained. Along with the mangalsutra, Hindu married women also wear toe rings, kumkum, bangles and a nose ring. Apart from Hindus, women of other religious faiths also wear this symbol of love and goodwill around their necks after they are married. Some Christians also follow this practise. Christian mangalsutras will have a cross symbol in it.
How do modern women see the Mangalsutra?
Like all things, this sacred thread has also evolved to suit today’s modern woman. Mangalsutras, these days, come in different styles to reflect every woman’s individual tastes and likes. Women now have their mangalsutra made of yellow gold and accented with sparkling diamonds. It may be designed with the regular back beads and finished with a decorative diamond pendant in the centre. Some may also prefer to add colourful beads and precious stones for added flair.
Modern women may not wear the mangalsutra daily as women did earlier, and may only wear a ring, or may wear it in hand but it still holds a very special place in their heart. This is mainly because some modern feel it is not practical for work, or may prefer to wear it only during special occasions and weddings. There are some women who may prefer to have two or more mangalsutras made; a lightweight casual one for daily wear and the traditional flamboyant one for important occasions.
How regional variations affect the Mangalsutra
Many different styles of mangalsutras are worn in the different states in India. It’s referred to as thaali in Malayalam and Tamil, mangalyasutra in Kannada, mangal sutra in Marathi, maangalyamu or thaali in Kannada, maangalyamu, mangalasutramu, or pustelu in Telugu.
Dhaaremani or muhurtmani, which means big golden bead, is worn by Konkanis, both Christians and Hindus, and includes three strands. They may also wear the mangalasutra with one or two gold discs, or the kasithaali with gold and coral beads. In the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the two gold discs which are about coin-sized, are separated by two-three different kinds of beads. One disc is provided by the bride’s family and the second one is given by the groom’s family as per tradition.
Diversity in the Mangalsutra designs
Mangalsutras are crafted in a wide range of designs. The most common ones include the Lakshmi thaali, pustelu, ela thaali or minnu, vati ornaments, and the kumbha thaali. Its design is usually chosen by the groom’s side as per prevalent customs.
Some of the mangalsutras are designed with kundan pendants, floral pendants, decorative diamond pendants, etc. It can be made with a single chain or with multiple strands ending in a single pendant. Each embedded with black round beads. There are short as well as long designs that can be decided as per the wearer’s choice.
However, we did mention above that with changing times, the mangalsutra has also changed. The traditional one had a simple design. The ever-dynamic world of fashion has made the mangalsutra more stylish today, and revamped it with diamonds and precious stones.
But, despite all these changes, it still remains a symbol of everlasting love and commitment by the wife for her husband. The mangalsutra or sacred thread will always play a crucial role in the Hindu wedding, and in the life of married couples!