Bangles are traditional ornaments worn by the Indian women, especially after marriage. It is a tradition among Indian women to wear bangles, as it is considered auspicious and has traditional value in Hinduism. It is a rigid bracelet or anklet, one with no clasp, made up of different materials including glass, plastic, metal, gold, silver, beads, ivory, shell and lac. Bangles are found in different colors and different designs too. They are usually worn in pairs by women, one or more on each arm. It is called as Kangan or Chudi in Hindi, Valayal in Tamil, Gaaju in Telugu, Bale in Kannada.
In a few Indian states, the bride wear small size bangles as it is believed that smaller ones symbolize a happy and loving marriage and a wonderful honeymoon. A married Indian woman wears bangles everyday as they are supposed to symbolize safety and luck for their husbands. Sudden breaking of glass bangles is considered as a sign of an unpleasant incident for her husband. In Hindu custom, when a husband dies, the bangles of the woman are broken and all of her wedding ornaments are removed along with her Mangalsutra.
The bangles are made up of different types of materials like glass, plastic, ivory, gold, silver, beads, shell and lac. Most women love wearing either gold or glass bangles or the combination of both. Gold ones are being replaced by those made by plastic or ordinary metals due to their attractive colors, shapes and designs. These are preferred at traditional occasions such as marriages and other festivals.
There are regions that have specific colors associated with their regional traditions, each color signifying different meaning.
Red color – symbolizes energy, life and joy
Blue color – represents wisdom
Purple color – symbolizes independence
Green color – symbolizes luck for marriage and fertility
Yellow color – represents happiness
Orange color – symbolizes success
White color – mean new beginnings
Black color -mean power
Silver color – represents strength
Gold color – represents fortune
In some Indian traditions, ivory bangles are gifted by the bride’s mother to bride during marriage and these bangles are worn by the bride following which ‘Saptapati’ is performed. Saptapati is a part of the marriage function in which the bride and the groom have to walk around the sacred fire, without which the Hindu marriage is considered incomplete.
In Bengal, married women wear iron bangles to signify marriage.
India has a long tradition of jewelery with vivid hues and embellished with attractive and interesting works. Colored bangles are a sign of marriage with red and green bangles being more essential. Indian women always have a special passion for colorful bangles. They are available in spectrum of shades and the market for bangles is always open, as the women go crazy for color bangles. The intricately designed patterns reveal the originality of Indian culture and heritage.
In some regions, brides are presented with 21 ivory bangles, which she has to wear for 3 to 6 months; sometimes 40 days is mandatory. It is to remind the people that the girl is a new bride and she should be treated as a princess. In most of Indian states, a married woman with bare hands is considered as inauspicious. A married woman can never leave her hands bare; she should wear atleast a single bangle, or at least tie a cloth around her wrist while changing her bangles.
Nowadays, bangles are seen as trendy accessories and women of all ages wear them.
Bangles are very popular with growing fashion trends also in Tamil Nadu. In olden days, the bangles were used to signify the importance of woman’s marriage, but now the bangles are being used for fun as they look pretty and really beautiful.
The main producers of bangles are Hyderabad (capital city of Andhra Pradesh, India) and Pakistan. They have become an attraction for ladies in parties, weddings and other festivals of India, Pakistan, Canada, UK, USA, Australia, Germany and several other countries all over the world.
Women buy bangles especially for this Eid festival (Eid is the Muslim festival celebrated after the month of Ramadan). The day before Eid festival is called as Chand Rath (night with a full moon). Markets and the shopping centers are crowded with girls on this day in North India, especially the young girls to buy bangles and other accessories.
In Tamil Nadu and other southern states, there is an old tradition of conducting Valaikaapu (Bangle celebration) for pregnant women in the 7th month. During this function, the girl is adorned with glass bangles of different colors. Only the glass bangles are considered during this time, because the main intention is that the sound of her bangles should be audible to her unborn baby. The main purpose of conducting Valaikaapu function is to enhance the listening sense of the unborn baby.