Epitome of feminine grace
Bangles, the decorative ornaments of women, have over the centuries acquired a socio-cultural-religious significance. Literature through the ages has glorified this ornament and made it the epitome of feminine grace.
The ornament was purely a decorative accessory in the pre-Vedic era and even in the post-Vedic times until the medieval period. Medieval India gave Hinduism a chauvinistic twist distorting Vedic concepts and introduced ritualistic beliefs. It was at this stage that the bangle was transformed from a mere decoration to a symbol of marriage. The bangle thus began to gain social significance and ritualistic relevance.
Sarojini Naidu extols them as ''The rainbow tainted circles of light lustrous tokens of radiant light''Truly, bangles' circles of light are an inseparable part of Indian woman without which she is incomplete. From a suckling to the grey-haired they lend an inexplicable charm and dignity. They are as varied as the womanfolk itself in their appeal and beauty. The tender feminine grace acquires an additional sheen with them. They are as old as the Vedas. Whatever the impact of changing times and fashions, bangles continue to have their undiminished sway particularly in the celebration of any occasion from a simple birthday to a grand marriage.
Bangles also have traditional value. Hindu married women always wear some bangles round both their wrists as it is considered inauspicious to be bare armed.Kameswari, an architect, says that bangles do not play a role in her daily attire, but likes to wear them on occasions and festivals as bangles have sentimental value.
A teacher from Central School, R. Nagamani, says bangles are like a shadow to substance for a Hindu woman. A woman is incomplete without bangles. They are not just ornaments but a part of womanhood and honour.
''Today's youngsters do not prefer to wear them as bangles affect their work, but wear gold bangles, which can be worn even in day-to-day life,'' says Kameswari, a housewife who wears glass bangles regularly.
In the South, there is a ceremony called 'Valaikaappu' (adorning a woman in the family way with bangles), which is performed during the seventh month of pregnancy. Thereafter she comes to stay at her mother's place until delivery. The glass bangles of all varieties and colours are beautifully stacked on her hands during the function.
The Gujarati and Rajasthani brides are gifted a pair of ivory bangles by mother. The bridal couple cannot perform the 'saptapati' (the seven steps around the holy fire without which no Hindu marriage is complete) without the bride wearing the ivory bangles.
In Bengal, the iron 'kada' (bangle) commonly termed 'loha' is worn by the married woman as a symbol of marriage. The bride is also given a beautifully crafted white conch bangles and red lac bangles.
Vizag does not lag behind in its closeness with bangles. In fact, Makavanipalem, a tiny village near Narsipatnam, was once a place of bangle making activity that carried the skills of the workers there far and wide.
Now, though those manufacturing units ceased for a variety of causes, bangle business goes on briskly everywhere in Vizag. Every locality is replete with stores dealing in a variety of bangles and they do a great volume of business.
Krishna, the owner of Vijaya Menaka Novelty House, says: ''The bangle business has not come down. It is only the trend and fashions that have changed. These days there is a wide range of designs available like kundan, beads, lac, black metal, white metal, etc., that are crafted with unique designs. The business is very good during Shravanamasam (August-September) and the wedding season.
Bangles are not mere jewellery but an expression of feminity and is beyond class, creed and culture.
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