Why Do Indian Women Wear Bangles
Glittering India|March 2018

Why Do Indian Women Wear Bangles

Harish Desai

Introduction

The tradition of Indian women wearing bangles started in ancient times. However, to this day, the custom continues. Women in India wear bangles to enhance their feminine grace and beauty. These bangles are available in various colors and designs. The word bangle has been derived from the traditional word Bangri or Bangali, which in Sanskrit these words mean ‘the ornament that adorns the arm’. Bangles are ornaments by both unmarried women and married women in India. Bangles have a long history and are being made from various materials including glass, conch, different metals, gold and ivory. The traditional bangles of Punjab are made from ivory and those from Bengal are made from conch.

Historically, there is strong evidence that Indian women have been adorning their arms with bangles since ancient times. One of the oldest art objects in India, the bronze figurine of a dancing girl excavated at Mohenjo Daro epitomizes the antiquity and the universality of wrist ornaments in India. The figurine stands in the nude with one arm at her hip, the other arm completely weighted down with a collection of bangles. Even the Yakshinis are depicted wearing bangles. Banabhatt’s Kadambari has a reference to goddess Saraswati – the goddess of learning who is shown as wearing kangans. Ancient fragments testify that bangles were made from terracotta, stone, shell, copper, bronze, silver, gold, lac, etc. Bangles are also made of glass.

Significance of bangles for married women

In India, according to customs and traditions, wearing bangles is necessary for a married woman. In some communities in India, a belief prevails that only golden bangles should not be worn. Further glass bangles should accompany them. Glass bangles are said to be symbolizing the well-being of the husband and the son. In some communities, women are so superstitious that when changing the bangles they do not remove one bangle to the arm until they wore another set of bangles. They believe that an empty arm brings bad omen. Thus, it can be safely said that women not wearing bangles in India is frowned upon. However, things are changing with women entering the work place.

In India, women are expected to wear formal attire as per the grooming norms. This can include either an ordinary sari with nominal jewellery or a churidar kurta with nominal jewelry covering the body. It is frowned upon if a woman wears traditional jewelry to office. People start asking her if she is celebrating any occasion like her wedding anniversary or her birthday or some other thing. Conservative male husbands also frown upon their wives wearing their finery to office. They feel that if their wives do so, some of their male colleagues will glance at their wives and get seduced and that will be a problem for them.

It is also believed that women who are not happy in their married lives wear fashionable attire to office to enter into affairs with their colleagues. This belief is held by some traditional Indian men who feel insecure of their women being smarter than they are. Bangles are called as choodi in Hindi. They are usually made of glass, silver, copper, wood, plastic and are available in various colors and models. The tradition of wearing bangles in India has been in existence for real long. However, even today, women love to wear bangles to enhance their feminine grace and beauty. Although, this trend is changing with women becoming of more modern outlook.

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