Thursday, November 28, 2013

Solah Shringar: Hindu Mythology & 16 Adornments of an Indian Bride

Solah Shringar of Indian bride
Solah Shringar: 16 Adornments of an Indian Bride

Every girl dreams to look the most beautiful one on her wedding day and makes several visions of that look. She visualizes everything from donning her attires to putting on make-up and every bit takes her in seventh heaven. When it comes to an Indian bride, then there are 16 ornaments (solah shringar) that a bride carries to adorn her beauty. In fact, it is a beauty ritual to not miss any of them to complete the bridal look. The 16 ornaments interestingly cover a woman from head to toe.

Hindu Mythology: Importance of 16 Adornments

Solah Shringar Items
Solah Shringaar list

Solah Shringar & Lunar Effects

16 adornments and lunar effect Mythology
16 adornments and lunar effect

Many scientific and historic studies established a coherent relation between lunar and menstrual cycle, which was contradicted in 1996. The beliefs are ongoing in Hindu rituals that the 16 phases of moon has a negative effect on the woman’s menstrual cycle. In traditions, the 16 adornments are considered correspond to the 16 phases of moon and are donned to nullify the negative effects.

Shringar: Word Expression

Shringar incorporates ‘Shri’ in it, which is other name of ‘Laxmi’, the goddess of wealth, luck and beauty. The bride and newly married woman is considered and called Laxmi who brings prosperity with her.

Celestial Appearance

The wedding day is also believed to celebrate the divinity and beauty of the bride as she transits to womanhood, so the bride is given a divine emergence by 16 adornments.

Pre-Shringar: Ceremonial Bath

Ubtan of a bride's body
A would-be bride applying ubtan 

This divine bath incorporates two steps.

Hair Wash

The aroma oils are applied to the bride’s hair and then a mixture of herbs are used to wash hair. This mixture consists of Brahmi, Amla, Shikakai, Bhringraj and Aloe Vera.

Organic Scrub (Ubtan)

The secret to radiant skin of bride is Ubtan that is applied to bride’s face, hands, arms and legs. This organic scrub is made of a mixture of various powders (sandalwood, turmeric, and gram flour), liquids (milk, oil) and some fragmented herbs.

Needless to say, the bride looks graceful and oh-so-glowing after taking a bath.

16 Adornments (Solah Shringar)

Now the time comes when a bride is embellished with 16 ornaments. An Indian girl waits for this moment as she looks the most beautiful in her life on this occasion. Below it the list of all solah shringar items with their Hindi names:

1. Bridal Dress (Shadi Kaa Joda)

Beautiful Bride's dress: Shaadi Ka Joda
One of the most beautiful wedding dress
Bride's Shaadi Ka Joda: Lehanga Odhni dress
Indian shadi ka joda (bridal dress)

The type of traditional dress depends on bride’s heritage; it may be sari, lehenga or salwar suit. Heavy embroidery with golden colored thread is also common in these outfits.

Mythology

Red is considered an auspicious color and most commonly seen in wedding dress (fully or in combination with other bright colors). A veil covers the bride’s face, which symbolizes youth, modesty and virginity.

2. Hairdo (Keshapasharachana: Kesh-pash-rachna, that is, hair-flock-arrangement)

Bride's hair decorated with "Gajra"
Bridal hairdo with gajra in hair braid

Hair Braid

A bun and an associated braid are made.

Flowers (Gajra)

The hair bun and braid are adorned with a coiled string of flowers (usually Jasmine) and hair accessories.

Mythology

The three parts of hairs in a plate symbolize:

  • Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati-the three holy rivers of India
  • Brahm, Vishnu and Mahesh- the trinity of Hindu Gods
  • The families of bride’s father, in-laws and her own that unitesboth of the families

One mythology says that the bride’s open hair may enchant the groom, so they are tied up.

3. Hair Accessories (Maang-teeka or Mang-patti or Bhor or Borlaand Mandoria)

Bridal head ornament: Maang teeka or Bor or Maang Pattika
Maang teeka or bor with hair accessories adorning the Indian bride

This accessory is made of precious stones, gold or silver and worn in the center parting of hairs; it ends till forehead. To highlight the allure of bride, one other accessory mandoria is worn; it is a strand of pearls. This is tied across the forehead on either side.

Mythology

  • This symbolizes the third eye and is said to empower the spiritual energies and intuitive power.
  • As this prime accessory is placed on the sixth chakra (ajnachakra) of forehead, it represents the power of soul and signifies concentration, control and preservation. 

4. Sacred Mark on Forehead (Bindi or Teeka or Tilak)

Dulhan Bindi on Bride's forehead
Bridal bindi on forehead

The sacred symbol of a married woman, bindi is donned on the centre of the forehead. It is a circular red dot of vermilion powder. A bride decorates red and white bindies along the eyebrows as well.

Mythology

  • It is believed that a mystical eye rests at this place, which enables bride to see the future. It sensitizes her about if something bad is destined in future.
  • This spot (agna) is considered to be a house where wisdom lies and experiences gather in concentration. While meditation, kundalini or energy rises from the base of spine to this spot, so this is said to be a ‘command centre’.

5. Vermillion (Sindoor)

Sindoor or vermillion in dulhan (bride's) maang
Groom applying sindoor (holly vermillion) to bride

During the wedding rituals, this sign of wedlock is applied by the groom to bride’s central parting of the hair. Its red color represents the fertility power of a woman and is believed to be auspicious.

Mythology

  • This sacred mark symbolizes the energy of Parvati and Sati. It is believed that if a woman wears sindoor, goddess Parvati wards off evil spirits and safeguards her husband, bestowing a longer life.
  • It attracts cosmic energy and bestows prosperity, good fortune and good health.

6. Kohl (Anjana or Kajal)

Kohl (Anjana or Kajal) application in bride's eyes
Bride applying kajal

Traditional kohl is made of soot of earthen lamp (diya or deepak) and applied on the upper and lower rims of the eyelids.

Mythology

It is believed that the bride may be afflicted by the bad eyes as she looks dramatically beautiful, so kohl is applied to ward off the evil eyes and safeguard the bride.

7. Nose Ring (Nath)

Bride donning Nose Ring (Nath)
Bride wearing natth (nose-ring)

A nose ring is made of pearls, gems and diamonds and worn in left nostril. Some nose rings are extended till left ear by a chain that is hooked across the cheek and tucked to the hair.

Mythology

Nose ring symbolizes spirituality, royalty, bravery and rite of passage.

8. Ear Rings (Karn Phool or Jhoomars)

Beautiful ear rings of Bride: (Karn Phool or Jhoomars or jhumke)
Bridal jhumke (ear accessory)

Ear rings are worn after ear piercing and comes in various designs with embedded gems, stones and diamonds. Jhoomar is an ear ring with hanging design and made of gold.

Mythology

The temple design of jhoomar is considered to be auspicious.

9. Chain & Necklace (Haar and Mangal-sutra)

Bride with Mangal-sutra and haar (chain and necklace) in neck
Bridal jewelry: haar, mangal-sutra (necklace)

A chain (often of gold) is worn by the bride and a necklace of black beads is put by groom during the marriage rituals. This black-beaded necklace is called Mangal-sutra and embellished with gems, stones and diamonds.

Mythology

As it symbolizes the marriage, a bride wears it lifelong.

10. Armbands or Armlets (Baajuband)

Beautiful arm ornament: Bridal Armbands or Armlets (Baajuband)
Bridal bajuband

Armbands are worn on the upper arm, often on the sleeves of blouse and made of gold, pearls, diamond or silver. Mugal, Jaipuri or Rajasthani are the most popular designs of armlets.

Mythology

It is said the armbands protect from the evils by keeping them away.

11. Henna (Mehndi)

Henna or Mehandi in Bride's hands and legs
Beautiful bridal mehandi design for arms, hands, feet and legs

The day before the marriage, henna paste is applied in various intricate designs and patters to hands and feet of both bride and groom. When washed off, the henna leaves an orange-red color.

Sacred Red Ink Made of Plants (Aalta or Mahur or Mahavar)

In some parts of India (for example Bengal and tribal areas) a red-colored ink called aalta is applied to the outer border of feet.

Mythology

  • It is said that the darker is the color of mehandi, the deeper will be the love of your soul mate.
  • Henna is believed to keep the misery, diseases, and death away, by protecting from evil effects. Henna signifies the essence of love, strength of the bond and connection between the bride and groom.

12. Bangles and Bracelets (Choodiyaan& Kangan)

Beautiful Bridal Bangles and Bracelets (Choodiyaan and Kangan)
Bridal chuda and kangan (bangles and bracelet)

Bangles are another sign of marriage and worn in the wrists of the hands. These are made of glass, iron, metal, ivory, ceramic and gold.

Hanging String (Kalira)

Stunning Kaleere or Hanging String in bride's hands
Bride wearing kaleera in hands

Some brides (like Punjabi and Sikh) add bright and attractive kaliras to bangles.

Mythology

There is a tradition that a newly married woman shouldn't perform the chores until her wedding bangles are not removed.

13. Thumb Ring (Arsi)

Thumb Ring (Arsi), Aishwarya Rai as Jodha in an Indian bridal ornament
Bride putting ghoonghat (veil) and donning thumb-ring

Along with the other rings, a bride also wears the thumb rings; the ring incorporates small mirrors.

Mythology

As the bride carries a veil, the embedded small mirrors help her taking the glimpse of her life-partner and herself.

14. Waistband (Kardhani or Kamarband)

Bride with beautiful Waistband (Kardhani or Kamarband)
Kamarbandh or kanakti (waist ornament)
Bridal waist ornament: Kamarbandh or kanakti or kardhani
Beautiful bridal waistband (kardhani)

Waistband is a beautiful belt that is tied around the waist. It is embellished by the gems and precious stones. This ornament not only enhances the beauty, but also helps keeping the sari or dress in place.

Mythology

The waistband is made of gold, which portrays a sign of future success. Some people connect it with the health of the couple's future child.

15. Anklets & Toe Rings (Payal or Pajeb and Bicchuaas)

Beautiful Bridal Anklets and Toe Rings (Payal or Pajeb and Bicchuaas)
Payal and bichudi
  • Anklet is a chain made of silver and worn in feet. This beautiful accessory owns tiny bells on its edges, which make rhythmic sound when a bride walks or moves.
  • Toe rings are donned in the second toes of the feet, which symbolize marriage.

Mythology

  • Anklets are worn by a bride to draw the attention of her presence and announce her entry to her groom’s house and life.
  • These anklets are made of silver, not gold because gold is respected as the God. It is considered that wearing them in the lowest part of the body (feet) is disrespectful and a bad omen.

16. Scent (Itra or Itar)

Bridal Solah Shringar with Scent or Itra
Itra (scent)

This is applied to bride for keeping her smell nice; it keeps her fresh during the lengthy rituals of wedding.

Mythology

The long-lasting sweet fragrance of scent signifies the positive and pleasant aura, which is believed to keep the atmosphere auspicious and welcoming.

From rich to poor and metro cities to villages, almost all the Indian families believe in these traditions and follow them whether they know the implications or not. However, Indian weddings are full of colors and brightness.

Needless to say, some modern twists are given to them, but still they are dramatic and worth watching.

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