THE INDIAN BRIDE: EMBODIMENT OF DIVINITY
An Indian bride is an embodiment of divinity. The ritual of dressing up, adorning herself in the sixteen elements of ‘shringar’ on her wedding day makes her look like a Divine Goddess. Our muse for this year’s wedding collection is you, the beautiful bride-to-be! As beautiful as an Indian bride is, a head-to-toe beautification ritual at the time of her wedding is special.
Bindi, sindoor, maang tikka, kajal, karna phool, mehendi, nath, bajuband, bangles, haath phool, haar, kamarbandh, payal, bichiya, gajra and ittar – all make the bride personification of divinity.
ANCIENT, NOT IRRELEVANT
We’ve progressed a lot, but the age-old custom of donning the Solah Shringar on one’s wedding day hasn’t lost its relevance in today’s times. Along with the cultural significance of the Shringar, it is said that each adornment also has scientific relevance along with health benefits. Aside from the wholesome look it lends even to the modern Indian bride, the youth identifies with the benefits each shringar lends itself. The divine bath – washing hair, applying turmeric ubtan scrub and then donning the solah shringar as the main ingredient of the bridal dress up…
There are seven main chakras that run across the center of the body, and the sixth one called the Ajna Chakra or Third Eye Chakra is exactly where the bindi is placed. It is believed to be a major nerve centre and is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration. The Nasadiya Sukta of the Rig Veda, the earliest known Sanskrit text, mentions the word Bindu. Bindu is the point around which the mandala is created, representing the universe.
'Sindoor', a bright vermillion powder, worn in the centre parting of the hair extending till the forehead is said to be a symbol of female energy. The traditional sindoor, made mainly with turmeric and lime, is believed to cool down the body and regulate blood pressure.
Bridal adornments hold a significant place in Indian culture and traditions. Placed in the centre parting of the hair and resting on the forehead, the point where Shiv-Shakti combine to form ‘Ardhanarishvara’, the Maang Tika represents the holy union of masculine and feminine energies on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.
Originally applied to the upper and lower water lines in the eye, the ‘Kajal’ not only enhances the shape of the eyes, but is also said to have quite a few medicinal benefits. Besides keeping the eyes cool, the traditionally-made Kajal or Surma is believed to have vitamins and anti-bacterial properties too.
'Karna' meaning ear and ‘Phool’ meaning flowers are jewellery or ornaments for the ear, as the name suggests. Worn on an acupuncture point, earrings serve more than just ornamental purposes. It is believed that wearing earrings has acupressure benefits as well, keeping the kidneys and bladder healthy.
Since ancient times, ‘Mehendi’ has been applied on hands on auspicious occasions. With its known therapeutic properties, traditional mehendi is not only a natural coolant, but it also helps de-stress the nerve endings and give relief to the wearer.
An ‘Nath’, or nose ring, is very much a part of the traditional Indian bridal dressing. It is believed that the piercing of the nose at a particular point aids in the proper functioning of the female reproductive system. A traditional ‘nath’ is a gold nose ring, crafted in jadau with polki, precious stones and pearl beads. A string of pearls is included to add support to the nath which extends from one end of the ring, across the cheek and hooked in the hair.
An ornate 'Bajuband', or the armband, is another beautiful addition to the bride’s attire. Worn on the upper arm, just above the elbow, the 'Bajuband' not only exudes elegance and abundance, but also aids blood circulation in the arms and helps keep it relaxed.
Wrists stacked with Bangles or 'Kada' are a huge part of the bride’s visual presence. Coming from the Hindi word ‘Bangri’, meaning coloured glass bracelets, bangles have significant health benefits for the wearer. They are believed to stimulate the blood circulation and strengthen the bones of the arm. It is also said that the sound generated by the clinking of bangles wards off evil spells and activates the wearer's ‘Kriya Shakti’ (action waves) and ‘Surya Nadi’ (sun channel).
'Haath' meaning hands and 'Phool' meaning flower is an intricately crafted jewellery piece for the hand. It is worn on the back of the palm and essentially consists of a bracelet connected with chains or pearl strings to finger rings with an ornate medallion or a floral design in the center. It is believed that the bracelet, like the bangle, regulates blood circulation and the rings compress the pressure points which in turn stimulate and/ or stabilize various organs and recharge the wearer's energy.
Necklaces come in various shapes, forms and sizes - the traditional ‘Haar’, chokers, strings, etc. Made from either diamonds and precious stones or traditionally crafted in gold with polki, precious stone beads and pearls, a neck piece is surely the highlight of bridal jewellery. Furthermore, it is said that the necklace controls the blood pressure and blood circulation of the wearer.
The graceful shape of the female silhouette is enhanced with this simple accessory that forms an important part of the Solah Srinagar ritual. The ‘Kamarbandh’, or the waist band, is worn around the waist to essentially keep the bridal attire in place. It is also believed to help in regulating the menstrual cycle and provides relief during menstrual cramps.
The quintessential ‘Payal’ or anklets, as they are otherwise known, not only accessories a bride’s ankle, the sound of it’s chiming beads announce the arrival of an Indian Goddess, the bride-to-be. Not just a beautiful ornament, the anklet is believed to activate the lymph glands and boost the immunity of the wearer. It is also said that anklets help in curing swollen heels by aiding blood circulation and relieving sciatica pain.
Worn on the second toe of the foot, the ‘Bichhiya’ or the toe rings crafted in gold or silver were once considered an essential component of the Indian ‘Solah Srinagar’ ritual. It is believed that the nerve from this toe connects to the Uterus and the Heart, thereby strengthening and regularising the menstrual cycle. They are also said to aid in healing the reproductive organs.
‘Gajra’ is another pleasant, yet essential part of the Solah Shringar ritual. The fragrance from these floral strings helps in keeping the wearer calm and reduces nervousness on their big day. It is also a great way to feel fresh during the long ceremonies. This decorative hair adornment is still a very popular shringar today.
A little dab of the Ittar or Itra, as it is pronounced, adds the final touch to the Solah Shringar. These natural fragrances are concentrated essential oils made from botanical sources. They are believed to have therapeutic properties and help keep the wearer stress free and rejuvenated. Some are even said to have anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties.