The custom of wearing bangles for woman dates back to the prehistoric times. Bangles are a symbol of a married woman in India.
The kinds of bangles in India also depend on the various customs and rituals of that particular place. The mythological tales also tell us that bangles were a very important part of our culture.
Bangles discovered from the ruins of the Mauryan Empire or the Mughal era reveals how bangles formed an intrinsic part of our culture.
Every goddess that we find today is seen adorned with bangles. The ancient bangles were carved out from copper, bronze or even terracotta or silver. Bangles that were excavated from the ruins tell us about the craftsmanship of that particular period.
Today the bangles are a work of art. From filigree designs to intricate detailing, a bangle has it all. Some bangles have precious gems and jewels engraved into these bangles as mark of royalty.
Most of the married woman in India wears bangles made out from lac, shell and glass. Glass bangles in red color are actually worn by married woman. In the northern states of India such as Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan wear bangles made from ivory. They are also known as chura .However in states of West Bengal and Odisha women wear the shankha and pola which is a red and a white bangle together made form conch shells and red corals .
Previously, shankha used to be made from ivory. However with time ivory became very expensive and now shankha is made out of conch shells. As per the rituals and customs of a state a woman cannot wear red bangles if she becomes a widow, though she can wear the gold bangle. Ivory bangles are worn by Punjabi women and they are in white and red with stone embedded in them. They are generally given by the mother of the bride, the churas are required to be worn by the bride for a year and after that she can open them and keep them aside safely. This chuda wearing ceremony is quite an important one among Punjabis. A puja is performed and the churas are given to the bride by the bride’s maternal uncle after washing the churas in milk.
In Rajasthan and Gujarat, the bride is given a set of ivory bangles so that the bride can perform the saptapati ritual. Seven steps are taken across the fire and vows are exchanged between the bride and the bridegroom.
There is another interesting custom that is associated with Punjabi weddings where ‘kalire’ or tinkling bells are attached to the chuda. These kalire are basically streamers with tiny bells which are tied to the bride’s bangles by cousins or friends. As per the tradition the bride shakes her hand and tries to drop the kalire on the friends head and it is said that the friend or the cousin who has the leaves of the kalire on her head will get married next to the bride.
Towards the south of India woman are gifted green bangles as they are a symbol of prosperity and fertility for the new bride. Bangles of various colors are also gifted to the woman in a ceremony which is known as Valaikapu when the woman enters the seventh month of her pregnancy.
These varied religious customs are very much a part of our culture and it has been followed through centuries.
The age old customs related to the bangles are still being followed. However these days the tastes of modern woman have changed. They no longer wear bangles that are heavy or ornate ,rather they choose very light weight elegant designs which can be worn everyday to work .Woman these days are laying a lot of emphasis on the designs of the bangles so intricate detailing is very much in demand these days.
Throughout centuries bangles are a symbol of marriage along with other things such as toe rings, sindoor. Any woman having a bare hand is considered to be inauspicious in India so any woman married or unmarried wears a bangle in her hand.
In the modern age bangles continue to be in demand among women but their designs have changed considerably, Bangles are available in every size and they are also available in geometric patterns and designs. Lacquer work is also done in bangles where the color is filled into the gold bangle to create designs by a special technique.
Bangles are an important accessory for any woman and dressing up a woman means that her hands should be adorned with bangles. Bangles are also known to bring good health and luck for the husband and therefore women wear the bangles for the well being for their husband. The parents of the bride gift her gold bangles for her married life and the in-laws of the bride also gift her bangles for a prosperous life ahead. In some families bangles are even handed down from generations. The mother-in -law often hands over bangles to the bride which belonged to the generation before, These bangles are often give as a symbol of blessing and love to the newlywed couple. The trousseau of the bride often comprises of bangles of various colors which are often matching with her outfits .During ceremonies and pujas at home women are also gifted bangles along with sindoor as a symbol of their marriage. During chanters there is an age old custom of buying gold ornaments as it is considered to be auspicious. Many woman from various parts of India is known to buy gold bangles during this period as it is known to bring them good luck and prosperity. As legend goes the goddess of wealth or Lakshmi showers her blessing to households during this time so a woman often wear ornaments and bangles and conduct a puja at their houses for blessings from the Almighty.