Marriage is the most beautiful relationship and what makes it beautiful is the rich culture and traditions. Chants, traditional outfits, food, family time and gift exchange make it an extravaganza. Indian weddings are known worldwide for their lavishness and boisterous celebrations, filled with music and dance. India is a rich country in terms of its culture and tradition. Every culture has its own unique way of performing wedding rituals. The spiritual land of India has many cultures such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism and many more. These cultures are not only limited to their beliefs but also their rituals, ceremonies and life values.
Hindu marriage not only symbolize coming together of two individuals, but also the bonding of understanding and commitment. According to Hindu culture, there are five signs of marital status of a woman – mangalsutra, toe rings, kumkum, bangles and a nose ring. This article will be focus on mangalsutra designs and its symbolic importance in different cultures
Women are treated equally to men in most western socities. Thus you not see many women necessarily wear a mangalsutra or bangles, kumkum or toe ring. In professional places like work, it’s not the most ideal look a modern woman wants to portray even though she deeply values her culture.
This article discusses the meaning and types mangalsutra in different cultures. Infact you and your friends may have talked about the meaning of mangalsutra. Let’s understand the significance of this jewel.
What is a Mangalsutra?
It is a combination of gold pendants with sometimes black beads to prevent the couple from evil energies and spread happiness to the couple. ‘“Mangal” means holy and “Sutra” means thread. During the wedding ceremony, the groom ties the mangalsutra around the neck of the bride. In Indian culture a mangalsutra is equivalent to a western engagement ring or a wedding bands.
Mangalsutra based on the culture has over a 15 names like Tanmaniya, Taagpaag, Dejhoor, Thaali, Nallapusalu, Hirumangalyam, Minnu, Manthrakodi, Mangalasutramu , Pustelu, Maangalyamu, Ramar Thaali , Bottu, Vatis, Dhaaremani, Muhurthmani, Maangalya-Sutra.
There are some cultures that do not wear mangalsutra. But below is a table that will give you glimpse of mangalsutras in different cultures.
|Sindhi||Standard black beaded mangalsutra|
|Bihari||Taagpaag, looks like a standard mangalsutra|
|Telugu||Mangalasutramu, Pustelu, Maangalyamu, Ramar Thaali, Bottu|
|Gujarati||Standard black bead mangalsutra|
|Karnataka (Coorg)||Karthamani Pathak|
1. Kashmiri Mangalsutra (Dijhor, Dejhooor)
The Kashmiri brides have a very interesting form of mangalsutra. They are actually earrings made of gold woven in plain red thread. The parent give the earrings to their kashmiri bride during the wedding ceremony. After the wedding, when she goes to her husband’s house, a gold chain replaces the red thread. The chain, given by her in-laws, is called “Aath”. Some also add “Aathoru”, which is a small piece of golden ornament.
I would like to quote a couple of lines in Kashmiri about the mangalsutra.
“Dejhore gormaiy bejbrarey
Deki bade kuuri deke pooshnay”
This means, Dejhore was made in Vijeshwara, a place in Kashmir. And may the girl who wears it be blessed.
Image by Candidshutters
Image by Niyanta Watal
2. Sindhi Mangalsutra
In the Sindhi culture mangalsutra is a very important part of the wedding. It is a black and gold beaded chain with a pendant. The design of the mangalsutra depends on what the bride and the groom like. These days brides are opting out for a more modern design with the idea that they can wear it on a everyday basis.
3. Bihari Mangalsutra (Taagpaag)
In the Bihari culture, married women wear a mangalsutra known as Taagpaag. Women also wear toe rings known as “bichwa”, as a symbol of marriage. Toe rings are integral to Indian customs. They are considered essential for the woman’s reproductive system. Basically Taagpag is a another word for mangalsutra. It black beaded chain with pendant of their choice.
4. Tamil Mangalsutra (Thaali Kodi)
The Tamil mangalsutra or thaali is the token symbol of a Hindu marriage, just as wedding bands symbolize commitment, union and respect for one another. “Mangala Dharanam” is the ceremony when the groom puts on a Thaali on his bride. Thaali has a few more names such as Thirumangalayam, Mangalyam, Thaaly, Kodi.
Thaali comes in many shapes and forms. These derived mythologically or based on the family customs. The imprints on the Thaali have symbolic representations such as the family deity, Tulsi plant, Lord Shiva and Goddess Meenakshi. It weighs about 4-5 grams of gold. A family can choose to make it more elaborate by adding gold, coins, diamonds, gems to the main Thaali or on the sides as shown below.
During a Tamil wedding, Thaali is worn with a gold chain or “Manja Kayiru.” It is a yellow thread during ceremony. The yellow thread is replaced with a gold chain or a mangalsutra chain with black beads, known as “Nallapusalu”.
Images by Geru G Vaheesan
5. Kerela Mangalsutra (Minnu)
In Kerala, the Hindus call the mangalsutra “Thaali”’ and the Christians call it “Minnu”. Every Christian bride has a Minnu. The Minnu is a pendant with a cross, a symbol of Christianity, on a gold medallion shaped like a heart. The heart symbolises the concept of love. The cross represents the relationship a husband and wife must follow. The same relationship between Jesus and his bride, the church. Five or seven gold dots form the cross. The Minnu passed through seven strands of thread. Seven represents the bride, the groom, the couple’s parents and the church.
Images by A. Daliya Stanley, B
6. Telugu Mangalsutra (Mangalasutramu, Pustelu, Maangalyamu, Ramar Thaali, Bottu)
This Telugu mangalsutra has two round shape discs or coins. The groom’s side and the bride’s side each give a disc, tied on a yellow thread.
During the wedding ritual, the groom ties the two gold discs each with it’s own yellow thread, around the bride’s neck. The groom ties three knots of mangalsutra.
Sixteen days after the wedding the two discs are united. The groom or an elder in the family can perform this ritual. Black and coral beads threaded in a gold wire connect the two discs together. This is done to ensure they do not bump with each other. After the ceremony, the bride takes a bath and wears a new sari.
The unison of mangalsutra signifies the harmony between the two families. The mangalsutra represents the physical, mental and spiritual union of the couple.
Images by Prashant ™ and Sushmita Seethala
Below are some common thali designs. People prefer different style and design based on their family tradition. “Bottu” is a round disc and half dome shape gold pendant.
Image by Sabari Diamonds and Jewels, Tirupur, Tamil Nadu, India
Thali is not be seen. For this reason a sari is worn over to cover it. Primarily other females should not be able to see it and thus it acts as a evil eye protection. Thus brides prefer to have a decorative chain instead of a simple gold chain as shown below. There are many options available like the diamonds on the sides, gemstones, or different thickness or styles in gold chain. This way you can add a little bit of design as others will only see the chain.
Image by Sabari Diamonds and Jewels, Tirupur, Tamil Nadu, India
Some people, particularly from the older generations still wear the yellow thread known as the “Manja-Kaira”.
7. Gujarati Mangalsutra
The Gujarati brides wear a nose stud to signify their married status. Gujarati’s wear a traditional mangalsutra with black beads with intricate gold pendant. These day we see most people opt for a diamond pendant with a short chain like the ones below.
Image by Pooja Thaker
8. Maharashtrian Mangalsutra (Vati Mangalsutra)
The Maharashtrian mangalsutra consists of black beaded chain with two bowl-shaped vatis. The gold vatis signify Shiva and Shakti.The two strands of beads fused together are symbolic of the husband and wife. Black beads are to keep the evil eye away and have a happy marriage. “Nirgun” and “Shagun” are two types of black beads. A Nirgun is when the whole chain is made of black beads. A Shagun when every nine back beads are separated by two gold beads.
Image by Whatknot
9. Karnatak Mangalsutra (Karthamani Pathak)
In the Coorg region of Karnataka, the Coorgi women wear “Karthamani Pathak” as the symbol of marriage, an equivalent of mangalsutra for them. Karthamani Pathak is the most important jewelry for any Kodava bride. Karthamani and Pathak are two separate pieces of jewelry.
The “Pathak” is the gold pendant which usually has a large gold coin with Lakshmi or Queen Victoria engraving and has small round rubies studded on the circumference of the coin. This coin pendant is surmounted by a cobra that stands for fertility. It may sometimes also have freshwater pearls hanging from it.
“Karthamani” is a necklace that is worn with the Pathak. Karthamani is made of corals and gold beads passed over a thread. The thread may be replaced with a gold chain.
A Kodava bride wears the Karthamani Pathak a day prior to her wedding. Unlike other cultures this Kodava version of mangalsutra is not tied by the groom. Instead the bride’s mother ties it a day before the marriage.
10. Mangalsutra for modern women in the 21st century
Many women no longer stay at home and take care of household chores on a full time basis. Women do have their professional careers and have to keep par with their surroundings at an international level. The mangalsutra has a lot significance and importance in a married woman’s life. However the design may not be appropriate with the modern outfits. Thus women no longer wear it on a everyday basis.
We help brides customize their mangalsutra based on their cultures. Our new mangalsutra designs are more modern and versatile. The design reflects the brides modern lifestyle while maintaining the cultural signifance. Below are some of our modern managalsutras. Hope you love them.
Image via @classtige
Image by Satyug, Mangalsutra Bracelet – Designed by Shilpa Shetty
In this post, we’ve covered:
- Meaning of the mangalsutra in different Indian cultures
- Review elements of mangalsutras from different states and cultures
- Differences between mangalsutras such as Thaali, Bottu, Karthamani Pathak, Vati, Taagpaag, Minnu, Dijhor, Dejhooor and more.
- Mangalsutra design options available to moderns brides of the 21st century
Hope you enjoyed reading this article and got a lot of value from it. If there is any culture that we’ve not covered, let us us in the comments below. We would love to hear what your experience has been with the mangalsutra.
Click to view our latest mangalsutra designs.
If you would like to design your custom mangalsutra, please contact us here.
Wiki Saint Thomas Christians