(Tribal women of Gujrat in India wearing traditional silver haathphool and blessing a newly married woman; image courtesy of Sanghamitra Sarkar.)
Hathphool refers to the term “hand flower” and this terminology originated in India. Hathphool describes a piece of jewellery that is a hand ornament which is a part of the bridal trousseau; it has five rings – one for each finger and the thumb, each ring is attached to a chain which, in turn, is connected to a bracelet that goes around the wrist.
(Meena Kumari donning the haathphool ornament in a still from a film; image courtesy of Cinestaan.)
The five rings are said to represent five Indian Goddesses who would provide any sort of protection as required by the family of the bride in times of dire need. Later on, these rings were simply said to stand for the bonds of holy matrimony. The rings were connected to chains and a central floral design or medallion of some sort that covers the top of the hand.
(Madhubala in a film still sporting the hathphool ornament; image courtesy of Pinterest.)
Sometimes the left thumb ring would have a mirror worked into the design which is known as an “Aarsi” and the purpose of the aarsi was to give the bride a glimpse of the groom because the veil covering her face would prove to be a hindrance.