Act 1.

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(Image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)

Chin up.

Look straight ahead.

Meet their gaze.

Don’t slouch.

Shoulders back.

Take a deep breath.

Let it go.

Curtain up.

Show them what you’re made of.

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The Third Eye’s the Charm!

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(Image of Maang Tikka courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)
The Maang Tikka is an unmistakable piece of jewellery as far as Indian weddings are concerned. Maang = central parting on the head of a female, Tikka = an ornament with a pendant at one end and a chain connected to a hairpin at the other. The name comes from the function it serves which is to hang beautifully from the parting of the hairline. It is one of the most significant pieces of jewellery in the Indian bridal trousseau.
It is believed to rest upon the sixth chakra known as the agya chakra; it is considered a realm to a higher consciousness. It is believed to be the seat of the third eye; the inner eye that is opened once one has achieved a state of enlightenment.

(L to R: Meena Kumari in a film still depicted wearing the Jhumar tikka, image courtesy of The Hindu and Waheeda Rehman in a film still depicted wearing a maang tikka; image courtesy of Pinterest.)
The maang tikka with its placement of this particular chakra signifies the unification of male and female in ways that are not just physical but emotional and spiritual as well.
Different communities wear variations of this same piece of jewellery. Known as a Jhumar Tikka, the Muslim ladies wear beautiful pieces that are worn to the side instead of the centre of the forehead, the round shaped tikka in Rajasthan is called the Bor.
The Maang tikka can be embellished or simple yet intricate, there are a variety of designs made available these days in a rather large range of materials so there is a lot to choose from.

(Alicia Keys depicted wearing a maang tikka as a trendy part of her ensemble; images courtesy of Pinterest.)
It is worn on a lot of other functions and sometimes just as a style statement, not to mention the fact that it has gone global as a trendy piece of jewellery. The Maang Tikka isn’t restricted solely to the bridal trousseau anymore.

Making a statement; with necklaces.

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(Image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)

Every bride will tell you that playing dress up requires knowledge of the essentials. Most girls have all of their youth to acquire said knowledge so that when the big day arrives they will have a plan of action in place. The bridal trousseau will have the finalists polished and camera-ready; by finalists we mean the trinkets that have been chosen for their day in the sun.

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(Image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)

The necklace is a major player in the bridal jewellery game. Every eye in the vicinity will fall upon it at some point or the other for certain; all the more reason for the wearer to make sure that necklace is “the one”. Depending on her outfit, the bride has a number of styles to choose from, to make sure the entire outfit is well-coordinated and that each part of her ensemble compliments the other.

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(Image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)
The choker is quite the popular choice. Striking on its own; it can also be coupled with a long string of jewels or pearls puts together a rather grand picture, add to that the fact that the bride can make use of those pieces individually on later occasions as she so chooses.
The bib necklace is another trending style. As the name suggests, it is in the shape of a baby’s bib (it is tied around the necks of babies while they are being fed so that they’re clothes aren’t ruined in case they dribble or drool) and is usually studded with gemstones and jewels. So if the neckline of the outfit is relatively simple, this piece of jewellery stands out better.
Collar necklaces or crewnecks are also quite the trend and are, as the name suggests, worn around the collar area.
Rani Haar is a style that is as luxuriously grand as it sounds, as royal as they come in design and by the look of them as well.
Then you have your multiple stringed necklaces and threaded necklaces that go well for a look that’s more toned down and not as formal.

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(Image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)
Choices have always been a good thing, especially as far as jewellery is concerned and you will never really hear those who like to dress up complain about too many options.

Ear ring(ing) yet?

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(A model sporting beautiful jhumkas on her ears; image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)

As tradition would have it, the ears of Indian children are pierced at an infantile age; in fact, it is considered a major sacrament in the Hindu Dharma called “karnavedha”; as good as a rite of passage and it is one that is usually carried out ceremonially (in the stricter households) within the first 5 years of the child’s life. This ritual, in particular, is considered important mainly because of the belief that sacred sounds can be then heard in order to purify the mind of the individual.

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(Beautiful stud earrings; image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)

Girls, in particular, have their ear lobes pierced with tiny stud sitting pretty on them or little dangling earrings. The ritual isn’t as prevalent where boys are concerned, anymore; not to say that ear piercings don’t factor in style statements or personal preferences among adult or teenage males, the prevalence speaks directly to the ceremonial custom.

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(Blogger sporting a lovely pair of earrings; image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)

Having established the significance of ear piercings in the Indian culture we can move on to their place in the bridal trousseau. Earrings are a piece of jewellery, the absence of which would be felt without fail! The ears, unadorned, especially for any celebratory occasion, much less a wedding; would draw attention and curiosity, it would never pass as “no big deal.” Earrings form yet another essential item to speak of a person’s status and standing in society.

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(A stunning pair of dangling beauties; image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)
Women choose to adorn their earlobes with various types of earrings. Studs, for example, can be simple or intricate but they don’t dangle and are limited to the lobe.
Jhumkas are classic and will seemingly never go out of style, they’ll simply keep evolving from just the one to tiered.
Latkans are yet another lovely fashion statement, long, dangly and they go swish-swish with every movement of the head.
You have the ear cuffs which seem to be all the rage these days and we’re not just talking bridal accessories.
The Kashmiri Dejhoor style has the earrings in question dangling from the earlobe and attached to them is a quaint chain that goes over the ear to hang behind the lobe quiet elegantly; almost like a pleasant surprise.
You have your drop earrings and your chandelier style earrings; don’t forget about your hoops and baalis.
There are the Kaan chains as well for the demure yet traditional bride who’d prefer to play it safe rather than sorry with the chain that links your earrings to your hair, pinned down without a worry!

(Two gorgeous pairs of earrings in gold and studded with beautiful gems; image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)
With all of these options, it’s pretty safe to say every bride can choose to keep it simple yet stylish or go all out traditional without sticking to the current trend. So many styles and all for the taking.

Nathni.

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Nose rings also known as “Nathni”, are a significant part of the bridal trousseau.

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(Image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)

The nose piercing is fairly common mainly in India and the neighbouring countries, in fact, most of South and Southeast Asia as well. Almost always worn on the left side of the nose, because of a supposed connection to the female reproductive organs. Although, truth be told modern times suggest that the nose stud has become a unisex ornament with both, men and women adorning themselves with it.

(Women with their septums pierced; images courtesy of Matt Hahnewald Photography.)

Where weddings are considered, it is the women who consider the nose ring or nathni as a vital part of their bridal jewellery. Tiny studs to large hoops can be worn on the nose and these are sometimes connected to a chain and sometimes are independent of a chain, depending on the design and the preference of the bride herself.

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(Aishwarya Rai in a film still donning a lot of jewellery which features the “nathni”; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

There is a variation in style according to geographical location as well. Maharashtrians tend to wear larger and longer nose rings that cover up a significant amount of the cheek and chin region. Women from the north, hilly regions and some places in the south of India as well have the custom of getting both sides of the nose pierced. Septum piercing is popular among the tribal people and is called “Nathori”, it is also practised by dancers of Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi, Bengali women tend to wear Nathori too and this custom of septum piercing is also followed by Nepali women, young and old.

(Sridevi and Sulochna Lotkar, both sporting nose piercings; images courtesy of Tumblr and Pinterest.)

In this day and age, however, it’s safe to say the lines drawn between jewellery meant for men and jewellery meant for women are fading. Men get nose piercings as well and these aren’t just rockstar musicians. The trend is catching on quick!

Put a Ring on it!

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(A beautiful statement Vilandi ring; image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)

Traditional finger rings are made of precious metals like gold, silver or white gold (which is said to burn a smaller hole in your pocket as compared to gold), studded with precious gemstones, carved in the precious metal it is made of or they are simple bands that go on the ring finger.

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(Statement ring; image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)

The ring finger is the fourth finger, next to the pinkie a.k.a the little finger. The belief is that a vein runs from this finger straight to the heart; this connection marks the significance of wearing engagement or wedding bands on the ring finger in most cultures. Having said that, there are some cultures in which there is no particular finger on which the ring is to be worn and in certain cultures, the right hand is considered auspicious hence it becomes the ring bearing hand.

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(Aishwarya Rai with a statement ring on her finger in a still from Jodha Akbar; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

As per Indian customs, certain gemstones are to be worn solely on the corresponding finger and this is with regard to the astrological belief system. The nine planetary gemstones are the Blue Sapphire, Yellow Sapphire (index finger), Red Coral (ring finger), Ruby, Emerald (little finger), Hessonite (middle finger), Diamond, Pearl (little finger) and the Cat’s Eye (little finger).

Wedding rings are most often ornately embellished although modern brides also tend to select designs that suggest minimalism and simplicity are in vogue.

Hathphool  

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Sanghamitra Sarkar IndiaTribal women of Gujrat in India wearing traditional silver ornaments and blessing a newly married

(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.

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(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.

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(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.

Baaju-band.

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(Aishwarya Rai in Jodha Akbar sporting the baaju-band on both arms; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

A baaju-band also known as an armband or an armlet is an ornamental piece of jewellery that goes around the upper arm or bicep and it is designed to be close-fitting. It is made of precious metals such as gold or silver or brass. They can be studded with gemstones as well.

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(An ornamental baaju-band on a bride’s arm; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

These armlets form a part of not just the Indian bride’s trousseau but those of a lot of other cultures as well; Balinese, Sudanese and Javanese, to name a few. Sri Lankan history suggests that both, men and women wore armlets and women wore them mostly to ward off evil or bad luck.

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(A traditional Indonesian bride wearing the armlets on her biceps; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

Bol Choodiyan, bol Kangana!

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(A stack of Vilandi, Jadau & gold bangles with enamelled paintings even on the inside; image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)

Bangles a.k.a choodiyan a.k.a Kangana are a part of a woman’s jewellery box, especially in India and for married women, in particular, they hold most significance. Brides don bangles of certain colours and made of certain materials depending on what their culture and tradition call for; India being a country chock-full of diverse cultures – there’s a wide array of bangles worn by brides and the resultant reasons for the same.

Beginning with our home-state, Gujarat; bangles made of Ivory are generally passed down from mother to daughter, an inheritance and a gift without which, the bride cannot proceed with the ritual of the seven rounds taking the holy matrimonial vows around the sacred fire, also known as “saat phere” or the “saptapati” ritual.

This is similar and true for the state of Rajasthan as well which is a neighbouring state.

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(A set of Choora and Kalira on a young Punjabi bride’s hands; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

The tradition in Punjab is that the bride wears bangles that are made in the combination of red and white. The white bangles are most often carved ivory and these are known as “Choora”. The bride is supposed to wear these for at least a month or sometimes an entire year because they signify her newly-married status.

The Kalira is a long umbrella shaped ornament that is tied to the bride’s wrists and the ritual involving this is equivalent to the Christian custom of throwing the bouquet; in this case the bride shakes the kalira over each of her friends’/ bridesmaids’ heads and on whomsoever’s head it falls – that young lady is considered next in line to be married. This is made of gold or silver plated design.

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(Maharashtrian bride’s bangle ritual; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

In Maharashtra, the bride wears glass bangles in green along with solid gold bangles called “Patlya” and carved kadas called “Tode”.

In Bengal and Odisha, the brides wear bangles that are made out of conch shell and red coral; yet another combination of red and white bangles.

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(Set of bangles on the wrists of a South Indian bride; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

In the South, brides don bangles made of solid gold as gold is considered most auspicious; these are paired with green bangles which symbolise prosperity and fertility.

Hence bangles are an important part of a bride’s trousseau apart from being an accessory that can be worn otherwise on other occasions as well.

Kamarbandh!

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The Travancore Sisters South Indian Royalty Perfect example of the use of gold belts oddiyanam on LalithaRaginiPadmini.

(The Travancore Sisters, South Indian Royalty with the gold belts {oddiyanam} on Lalitha, Ragini & Padmini; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

The Kamarbandh has been around for centuries as far as Indian jewellery is concerned; this is the piece of jewellery that goes around the kamar (waist) hence is known as the kamar-bandh (waist-band). It began as a trend of ornamentation that was common to sexes, male and female but what was once considered unisex is, in this day and age, solely a female accessory.

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(Simi Garewal in a still from a 1960s film wearing a kamarbandh; image courtesy of Pinterest.)

Be it, for religious purposes or simply as a means of ornamentation and an indication of prestige, the kamarbandh has been around for a significantly long time. In the south, it is an important bridal accessory and is known as an Oddiyanam and most often these are carved with a deity in the centre surrounded by studded gemstones.
Gold embellished with precious gems or silver, the belt goes around the waist of the bride to hold her sari or lehenga in place. It is now an essential part of the bridal wardrobe; whether minimal and delicate or heavy and intricate. The kamarbandh is created in a variety of manners, catering to the many preferences that different individuals may have depending on their attire and personal taste.