|Mangalyam holds special place for women in India, especially Tamil Nadu. It is considered as one of important ornaments in a married woman’s life, which remains in her neck throughout her lifetime. Mangalyam is usually made of a yellow thread smeared with turmeric, or a string made up of black beads. Both these chains contains a pendant in the middle with designs varying between cultures. It is tied to the bride’s neck by the bride groom, symbolizing their unison through marriage. It is considered as a gift from a husband to his wife and meant for protection throughout their life.It is also called as Thaali in Tamil. It is referred to as Thaali/Mangala suthram/Maangalyam/Pustelu in Telugu, Mangalya suthra in Kannada, Mangalsutra in Maharashtra, thaali by Malayalis and Minnu by Syrian Christians.PLACE OF ORIGINThe practice of tying mangalyam was not followed in vedic marriages and even in ancient Tamil culture when the marriages were performed in vedic style.The versions of Ramayana by Kalidasa in Raghuvamsa and by Kamban in Tamil also did not mention about tying of thaali during the marriages. There was no mentioning of Thaali in the older Tamil literature, Silapathikaaram as well. There is also an opinion that tying thaali belongs to Dravidian style and not an Aryan ritual. Ancient Tamils did not have this as part of their marriage ceremony. Among the ornaments, bangles were considered as auspicious and indispensable – but there was no mention of thaali.Thaali is found being mentioned in texts written during olden age. It has been mentioned as an ornament that was worn by the kids to protect them from the evils. It was mentioned as ‘Im-padai-th-thaali’ meaning Thaali with five weapons. It was tied around the neck of the babies when they were 5 days old and it will be retained until the baby starts eating solid food.It is being said that the tradition of tying thaali in bride’s neck has been acquired only after 6th century. Before this, a protective cord called “Kanganabandhana” was being tied in the hands of bride by the groom.The procedure of tying mangalyam is called as Mangalya dhaaranam. This culture was initially prevalent in Tamil Nadu which later spread to North India.
Legend says that thaali was actually a tiger tooth that was tied around the bride’s neck by the bridegroom as a gift. The bridegroom himself defeats the tiger without any weapon and brings the tooth to tie in his girl’s neck as a token of bravery and courage, symbolizing that he can protect his wife throughout his lifetime from evils.
Mangalyam is considered as Lord Brahma, a hindu deity. This represents that Mangalyam is both a creator and destroyer. When it is tied around her neck, it promotes her as a wife who looks after the welfare of a family. When it is removed from her neck, it denotes her as a widow.
In Tamil Nadu, the Mangalyam is made up of yellow thread that is smeared with turmeric paste and holds a pendant in the middle. The groom ties it around the bride’s neck with three knots, each knot representing three different aspects – the first knot represents her respect towards her husband, the second knot represents the respect towards his parents and her parents, the third knot represents the respect to God. In some cultures, the groom ties only the first knot and his sisters makes rest of the knots.
The black color beads worn in the string is meant to be an absorber of negative vibrations before they could reach the bride and her family. The arrangement of the beads in the string also depicts blending of the bride in a new family.
There are a number of varieties of Mangalyam. Some of them are:
Mangalyam of Iyers contain Sivalingam in it, whereas the mangalyam of Iyengars contain a pair of shell (shakha) and red coral (paula). There are also thaalis that contain the shapes of trisulam (weapon in Lord Shiva’s hand), damaruk (musical instrument of Lord Shiva) and Rudhraksh (holy seed worn by Lord Shiva in his necklace). This type of thaalis are worn by the Saivites.
Most of the Hindus wear Lakshmi thaali whereas the Telugu people wear a pair of Ramar/Pottu thaali. Ela thaali is worn by the Malayalees and Kumbha thaali is worn by the Tamils of Kshatriya caste.
Gujaratis and Marwaris use a diamond pendant. The mangalya or Taali or mangalasutra of Kannidagas (people of Karnataka) is similar to that of the Maharashtrians, except that it usually has two pendants. The Bengali, Oriya and Assamese don’t have the custom of Mangalsutra.
Some of them wear tortoise shaped thaali, representing the bondage between the husband and the wife to long-live just like the tortoise which has a long life. Tortoise is the second avatar of one of the 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu. So, tortoise shaped thaali also means that the Lord Himself is protecting the family.
The market for Mangalyam is increasing in recent days, as a number of models are available. The pendants are available only in gold. In recent days, people are tying gold chains fixed with thalli straight away.
Hindu marriage symbolizes not only the wedding between and man and woman, but it also symbolizes mutual love, care, affection, understanding, commitment, sacrifice, companionship, dedication, and surrender by both the partners. Each and every ritual associated with the marriage has a meaning. One of such ritual is tying of mangalyam. It is not only the yellow thread or the gold chain that has the significance, but also the bond between two hearts and the protection assured by each other.
Mangalyam acts as fence for the married women, who values it as her husband. Indian women worship their mangalyam by keeping kumkum (holy red powder) on it and even does “Sumangali Pooja” for the long-life of their husbands.
Sacred Mantras are said when the groom ties mangalyam to the bride. They are “May you live long by wearing this sacred Mangalsutra, the reason of my life”.