Gifts of gold mark every important milestone in her life; the day she is born, the day she comes of age and eventually, the day she marries her soul mate. “Keep these ornaments carefully, my child” she is constantly reminded, “don’t leave the house without earrings on or a neck that is bare”. She is young, and so, she rolls her eyes. “All these beliefs are so outdated “, she thinks. “What’s the point of wearing all this gold?”.
Little does she know that this precious metal is being given to her as a form of financial security that she can cash in on if ever there was a need. The elementary composition of the metal is good for her health and accelerates healing processes in her body.
The bangles she wears on her wrists are colourful, circular pieces of metal that are oh so appealing to the eyes of the beholder. She takes pride in choosing just the right shades, to match the colour of her sari border. “Too bright” she thinks, ” maybe I should go for that peacock-blue colour instead”.
Little does she know that bangles only earned a place in the Indian woman’s jewellery box because the constant friction of the bangles against women’s wrists would help improve blood circulation and conduct energy towards the bones, which are naturally weaker in a woman than in a man.
She runs around the entire house, annoying her family members and escaping as much housework as possible, all the while filling the house with the sound of her anklets, laden with bells. This ornament, she has no issues with. This ornament is fashionable even in modern times. “Even people in Hollywood are wearing it” she thinks.
Little does she know that the soft, tinkling sounds she creates as she moves around her house dispel negative vibrations instantaneously.
She ponders over which earrings she should wear, the options are endless. “Should I choose something simple?” she wonders,” my sari is already pretty grand…”.
Little does she remember the ear-piercing ceremony that was held for her when she was an infant. But her mother does, of course. How could she ever forget the shrill screams of her beloved child lying in the lap of her maternal uncle, as the goldsmith pierced her child’s ears? She will never forget that. But she knows that it is best for her daughter, that the position of piercing is conducive to enhanced intellectual functioning and that it will promote a calm temperament in her daughter.
Her mother has several more pieces of jewellery that her daughter does not wear. She is married, you see, and around her neck lies her prized procession, her mangalsutra. The strands of this sacred necklace represent the qualities of love, faith and trust that she and her husband cherish. It is a symbol of the committed relationship she honours. The second toe of both her feet are enclosed by toe rings made of silver. In that toe, lies a connection to the uterus and the constant friction of the rings against her toes strengthens the system that brings forth life. She watches her daughter, and realises that she is no longer a child, but a young woman who will soon fly the nest. ” I hope she knows which ornaments are most important”, she thinks.
“I hope she knows that the greatest ornaments an Indian woman can wear are not tangible. I hope she knows that the most essential ornaments of a woman are her chastity, noble speech and pure thoughts. I hope she realises that without these intangible ornaments, no amount of exquisite jewellery is of any consequence. The day she knows this, is the day my duty as a mother is done.”
A woman of culture never crosses the boundaries of modesty and sticks to the path of righteousness, no matter how inconvenient or difficult the path might be. Such a woman, requires no jewellery at all and will evoke respect and adoration unasked. Such a woman, in my eyes, has the most precious ornaments of all…
What is your favourite Indian ornament and why? Leave a comment down below:)
I am a 20 year-old University student living in Australia. As I was born in Malaysia, brought up in Australia and have never lived in India, I am no expert in Indian culture. However, my love affair with this beautiful culture has been running strong for many years and I hope to share my passion with everyone this blog reaches:) Happy reading!