Traditional Indian jewelry boasts a diverse history and heritage like no other, intricately intertwined with the culture since antiquity. Among the myriad jewelry pieces, head jewelry and hair jewelry hold special significance for women in India. These adornments are not merely for aesthetics but carry profound meanings and symbolic value, rooted in popular magic and theology, reflecting the culture’s shared notions, concerns, aspirations, and fears.
Indian Head Jewelry: Unveiling the Maang Tikka
One of the most prominent and revered forms of Indian head jewelry is the Maang Tikka, which dates back to 5000 years ago. An integral part of the sixteen traditional bridal adornments called Sola Shringaar, the Maang Tikka holds religious and customary value. It is just one of the various head adornments across different cultures, including Matha Patti, Bor, and Borla. These pieces are worn in the center parting of the hair, extending gracefully to the forehead. For instance, Rajasthani brides opt for the Borla, while Maharashtrian brides elegantly wear the Mandoria made from pearls—both equivalent to the Maang Tikka.
The Maang Tikka is believed to rest on a significant nerve point between the eyebrows, known as the “third eye.” According to beliefs, this helps align and activate the associated chakras, promoting concentration, knowledge, wisdom, courage, and will-power. Moreover, when a woman wears the Maang Tikka for the first time during her wedding, it is thought to protect her from the evil eye and negative energy, guiding her auspiciously into the new journey of married life.
Jhoomar: Crescent Beauty
The Jhoomar or jhumar, also known as Passa in Punjab, is a crescent-shaped or fan-shaped Indian wedding head jewelry traditionally worn on the left side of the head. It holds deep-rooted cultural significance and is particularly popular among Punjabi brides, influenced by Islamic culture. Introduced to India by the Mughals, the Jhoomar quickly became an essential part of the North Indian jewelry repertoire.
In Islamic tradition, the moon and its phases carry great importance, symbolizing human emotions that are said to be linked to the left side of the brain. Hence, wearing the crescent-shaped Jhoomar on the left side is believed to help the bride maintain composure as she embarks on her new life’s journey.
Indian Hair Jewelry: Embracing Keshapasharachana
Hair jewelry, known as Keshapasharachana, plays a significant role in the Indian bridal look. After the bath, the bride’s hair is delicately scented with fragrant sticks before being styled into braids or buns adorned with flowers. Jasmine and Bel are commonly used as hair ornaments, providing a long-lasting scent and freshness throughout the day. In some regions, roses and marigolds are also utilized, reflecting the diversity of Indian traditions.
Jadanagam: The Serpent’s Grace
Jadanagam, a traditional hair jewelry from South India, adds a unique touch to braided hair. The exquisite designs feature patterns of sun, moon, flowers, and buds, embellished with rubies and diamonds. The jewelry adorns the long braid with cobra-like coils of precious jewels, accentuated by three silk tassels adorned with encrusted bells.
Historically worn by Devadasis, temple dancers, the tradition lives on through Bharat Natyam dancers who don the Jadanagam during performances. In the absence of Jadanagam, dancers ingeniously use flower adornments to maintain the cultural heritage.
Indian head jewelry and hair jewelry continue to mesmerize with their rich cultural significance and intricate designs. The Maang Tikka, Jhoomar, Keshapasharachana, and Jadanagam exemplify the timeless beauty and deep-rooted traditions of Indian jewelry, celebrating the essence of femininity and spirituality. These adornments not only enhance the physical appearance but also embody the profound values cherished by Indian culture throughout the ages.