Bangles are traditionally rigid bracelets, originating from the Indian subcontinent, which are usually made of metal, wood, glass or plastic. They are traditional ornaments worn mostly by women from the Indian subcontinent. It is common to see a new bride wearing glass bangles at her wedding, they symbolize auspiousness and sanctity of marriage. Bangles are a sign of a women’s ‘suhaag’. Bangles also have a very traditional value in Hinduism as it is considered inauspicious for a married woman to be bare armed. Bangles may also be worn by young girls and bangles made of gold or silver are preferred for toddlers.
Some men and women wear a single bangle on the arm or wrist called kada or kara. In Sikhism, the father of a Sikh bride will give the groom a gold ring, a kara (steel or iron bangle), and a mohra. Chooda is a kind of bangle that is worn by Punjabi women on her wedding day. It is a set of white and red bangles with stonework. According to tradition, a woman is not supposed to buy the bangles she will wear.
Types of Bangles
There are two basic types of bangles:
- solid cylinder type
- split, cylindrical spring opening/closing type
The primary distinguishing factor between these is the material used to make the bangles. This may vary from anything from glass to jade to metal to lac and even rubber or plastic.
One factor that adds to the price of the bangles is the artifacts or the work done further on the metal. This includes embroidery or small glass pieces or paintings or even small hangings that are attached to the bangles. The rareness of a color and its unique value also increase the value. Bangles made from lac are one of the oldest types and among the most brittle. Lac is a resinous material, secreted by insects, which is collected and molded in hot kilns to make these bangles. Among the recent kinds are rubber bangles, worn more like a wristband by youngsters, and plastic ones which add a trendy look.
Normally, a bangle worn by people around the world is simply an inflexible piece of jewelry worn around the wrist. However, in many cultures, especially those from Indian cultures and the broader Indian subcontinent, bangles have evolved into various types in which different ones are used on different occasions.
Following are some popular designs of bangles in India:
- Jadau Bangles (Also known Kundan).
- Meenakari Bangles.
- Lac or Lakhs Bangles.
Bangles are circular in shape, and, unlike bracelets, are not flexible. The word is derived from Hindi bungri (glass). They are made of numerous precious as well as non-precious materials such as gold, silver, platinum, glass, wood, ferrous metals, plastic, etc. Bangles made from sea shell, which are white colour, are worn by married Bengali and Oriya Hindu women.
A special type of bangle is worn by women and girls, especially in the Bengal area, commonly known as a “Bengali bangle”, which is used as a substitute for a costly gold bangle, and is produced by fixing a thin gold strip (weighing between 1-3 g) is thermo-mechanically fused onto a bronze bangle, followed by manual crafting on that fused gold strip.
Bangles are part of traditional Indian jewelry. They are sometimes worn in pairs by women, one or more on each arm. It is also common for women to wear a single bangle or several bangles on just one wrist. Most Indian women prefer wearing either gold or glass bangles or a combination of both. Inexpensive bangles made from plastic are slowly replacing those made by glass, but the ones made of glass are still preferred at traditional occasions such as marriages and on festivals. Bangles are the signs for traditional women and girls. Bangles play a very important role in various India dance forms. Some of dance forms include bangles striking to each other a tone of the music.
The designs range from simple to intricate handmade designs, often studded with precious and semi-precious stones such as diamonds, gems and pearls. Sets of expensive bangles made of gold and silver make a jingling sound. The imitation jewellery tends to make a tinny sound when jingled.back to menu ↑
Bangles made from sea shell, copper, bronze, gold, agate, chalcedony, etc. have been excavated from multiple archaeological sites throughout the Indian subcontinent. A figurine of a dancing girl wearing bangles on her left arm has been excavated from Mohenjo-daro (2600 BC).
Other early examples of bangles in ancient India include copper samples from the excavations at Mahurjhari, followed by the decorated bangles belonging to the Mauryan Empire (322-185 BC) and the gold bangle samples from the historic site of Taxila (6th century BC). Decorated shell bangles have also been excavated from multiple Mauryan sites. Other features include copper rivets and gold-leaf inlay in some cases.back to menu ↑
A choora is a set of bangles traditionally worn by a bride on her wedding day and for a period after, especially in Punjabi weddings.
Choora Materials and appearance
The choora is usually red and white; sometimes the red bangles are replaced with another colour, but they are usually only two colours. They are traditionally made of ivory, with inlay work, though now made with plastic. Traditionally there are 21 bangles, although more recently the bride often wears 7, 9 or 11 bangles. The bangles range in size according to the circumference of the top of the forearm and the wrist end so that the set fits neatly.
Wearing the Choora
Wearing the choora is primarily a Punjabi tradition. Sindhoor and Mangalsutra- are other adornments worn by married women typically of Hindu religious background, not Sikhs . The custom is also observed in Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, and among the Punjabi Sikh community in Singapore. The choora ceremony (dahi-choora) is held on the morning of the wedding or the day before. The bride’s maternal uncle and aunt give her a set of chooriyan.
Traditionally, the bride would wear a choora for a full year, although if a newly wed bride became pregnant before her first anniversary, the choora was taken off. When the color started to fade, her in-laws would actually have it re-colored, so everyone would know that she had been married for less than a year. On an auspicious Punjabi holiday, usually sankranti, after the first anniversary her in-laws would hold a small intimate ceremony in which the choora was removed and glass chooriyan (bangles) were placed on both hands. This usually was accompanied with mithai (Indian sweets) and a monetary shagun. The choora then was taken to a river and a prayer was said and it was left to float onto the water. Afterwards the woman could wear other choora in any colour for as long as she liked.
It is now normal for the bride to wear her choora for a month and a quarter (40 days). As the choora is made of fragile materials, Punjabi custom has it that the bride may refrain from heavy housework in her marital home to keep it intact for the 40 days, as a kind of honeymoon. After that, in traditional homes at least, she takes over the lion’s share of domestic work from her mother-in-law.