A bangle is one of the most important ornaments that an Indian woman wears. Different coloured bangles traditionally signify different things in Indian culture. Red signifies energy and prosperity, while green denotes good luck and fertility. Yellow bangles are meant for happiness, white is for new beginnings and orange is for success.
Silver bangles denote strength and gold bangles are the ultimate symbol of fortune and prosperity.
The difference between a bangle and a bracelet.
Bangles are circular in shape, and, unlike bracelets, are not flexible. The word is derived from Hindi bungri (glass). They are made of numerous precious as well as non-precious materials such as gold, silver, platinum, glass, wood, ferrous metals, plastic, etc.
Types of Bangles
There are two basic types of bangles: a solid cylinder type;
and a split, cylindrical spring opening/closing type.
Whats sets these designs apart, aside from the clasp mechanism, is the material used to make the bangles, varying fro anything from glass to jade to metal to even rubber or plastic.
Bangles, over time have become much more trendy and contemporary while retaining the same traditional significance that they had thousands of years ago. Funky looking bangles with geometric designs like squares and triangles are now very popular amongst fashionistas but the circular shape is still chosen for traditional ceremonies.
People in different states of the country call them by different names, but they have equal importance in Indian wedding tradition across our country’s diverse cultures.
Women in Rajasthan wear bangles that go all the way to their shoulders.
In Odisha and West Bengal ladies used to wear “shankhas” made up of elephant teeth. Shankha are white bangles made up of conch-shell and pola are red bangles made up of red corals.
In Bengal, apart from the shakha and pola, the mother-in-law gifts her daughter-in-law a gold plated iron bangle the moment she enters her new household.
In Assam women wear the “gamkharu” (Large bangle with clasp) is made in silver with gold polish.
In Maharashtra “Vaaki” is an armband it is crafted with 23-carat gold wire and embellished with stones.
Each of these styles is back by long standing tradition and beliefs passed down through generations.
In the southern states, gold is considered extremely auspicious.
In some communities, the brides wear green coloured glass bangles along with the gold ones, since green signifies fertility and prosperity.
In Rajasthan and Gujarat, the brides wear such ivory bangles or chooda as well. In Gujarat, the bride’s maternal uncle gives her the chooda in a ceremony called mameru, along with the bridal silk saree with the red border.
Similarly, in Punjab, brides-to-be wear ivory and red bangles called chooda. The maternal uncle of the bride gifts her a set of chooda. She is supposed to wear these bangles for a given period of time, and they can wear these for a minimum of forty days or longer depending on the individual family’s custom.
In Maharashtra, the bridal chooda is significantly different. The brides wear green glass bangles in odd numbers. The green signifies creativity, new life and fertility. They wear these along with solid gold bangles called patlya and carved kadas called tode. The gold bangles are usually gifted by the groom’s family.
It’s incredible how a little circular piece of jewelry can be innovated into so many wonderful styles of design. The options are endless and one can indulge in building a wonderful collection consisting of bangles made from seashell, brass, bronze, gold, silver, oxidized, mirror work, crystal, gem stone, glass, and much much more. The designs range from simple to intricate handmade designs, often studded with precious and semi-precious stones such as diamonds, gems and pearls. The list goes on as far as one’s imagination will take them! So which is your favourite style? Let us know in the comments section below.