Payal, also known as anklets or ankle bracelet refer to ornaments that are worn around the ankle. Anklets are an important part of women's adornment in the Indian culture though they have also been found in other ancient cultures of Egypt and Middle East. Anklets are a part of ornamentation and has great spiritual and social significance. However, apart from their aesthetic value the basic motive of the anklet is to draw attention to the wearers legs and feet. Payal, called pattelu in Telugu is a significant part of bride's jewelry in India. Traditionally, the new bride announces her entry into her husband's house with the tinkling of he payal.
Payal is a word that is used a lot in poetry to indicate the sound of the coming and going of the girl, her dance and the gaiety of the wearer.
Mostly, Indians prefer to wear payal made of silver, as gold is considered to be the metal of the gods. People in India, therefore, consider it disrespectful to wear gold on the lowermost part of the body. Many people though go in for gold-plated payals these days.
Salangai or Ghunghru are small bells that bharatnatyam, kathak, kuchipudi, and odissi dancers tie around their ankles, Ghoonghru was the basic part of a dancers’ ensemble, in several dance forms across these very regions. Hence, Payal or Paizeb was introduced as smaller, lighter and simpler ankle piece.
Anklets come in varying shapes and sizes in present times. From the traditional and rather delicate silver and gold chains, they have developed into beautiful threaded and beaded versions in wood, crystals, semi-precious stones and seashells. Payals are considered to be traditional and auspicious gift for the new bride in India.
Heavily carves payals or payals embellished with exquisite meenakari work are an all-time favorite gift for the newly weds. Ideally, an anklet needs to be at least two or three inches larger than the ankle size, so that the beads, bells and other embellishments fall right under the ankle bone. But then, there are exceptions, depending upon the outfit or footwear it must match with and the comfort level of the wearer.
Why Indian women wear toe rings (BICHHIYA)? there is a Science Behind this...Most Indian women who are married wear a toe-ring. It’s not only a sign that the woman is married, it’s also science. Indian Vedas (Vedham or Vedam) say that by wearing this in both feet, it is believed, that their Menstrual cycle course is regularized with even intervals. This gives good scope for conceiving to married women. Also it is said just because that particular nerve in the second finger from toe, also connects the uterus and passes through heart. If you notice, the toe ring will always be on the second toe of the right leg and also the left leg. It will control the uterus and keep it healthy by producing evenly balanced blood pressure to the uterus…As Silver being a good conductor, it also absorbs the energy from the polar energies from the earth and passes it to the body, thus refreshing whole body system. In great Indian epic called ‘Ramayana’ toe ring plays a vital role. When Sita was abducted by Ravana, on the way, she throwed her toe ring (kaniazhi) as the identification for lord Rama. This shows that toe ring is used from ancient time.
Wearing of toe rings is highly practiced in India. It is worn as a symbol of married state by Hindu women and is called bichiya (pronounced: bee-chee-ya) in Hindi, Mettelu in Telugu, Metti in Tamil and kalungura in Kannada. Toe rings, also known as bichwa, are a must for married Hindu woman. Tradition of wearing toe rings carries tremendous social significance for married Hindu women in India.
They are usually made of silver and worn in pairs on the second toe of both feet. Traditionally they are quite ornate, though more contemporary designs are now being developed to cater to the modern bride. Some ‘bichiya sets’ may have pairs for four of the five toes, excluding the little pinky. ‘Bichiyas’ may not be made of gold, as gold holds a ‘respected’ status and may not be worn below the waist. Hindus believe that gold is the metal of the Gods; it symbolizes Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, and therefore considers it inappropriate to wear gold below the waist. Traditionally a large ring was worn on the great toe of the left foot to indicate a married status. As Toe Rings or Bicchwas were considered to be symbolic of married woman, Hindu religion prohibits unmarried girls from wearing Bichhwas. Even in present times, girls refrain from wearing toe-rings before marriage.Toe rings also symbolize a woman’s dual status as sister and wife. She wears two sets of toe rings on each foot one for her brother and one for her husband. When either the husband or brother dies, one set is removed. The symbolism is that if her husband were to die then her brother would offer her protection.
In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, bichwa or toe rings is one of the most important symbols of
marriage and women are encouraged to decorate each toe with different rings with myriad motifs ranging from paisley, to fish to flowers.
During the Vedic times, Sanskrit texts laid down the concept of sixteen Shringaar or the sixteen traditional accouterments with which every woman could adorn herself.
In South India too, toe rings are a symbol of marriage and women wear a heavy ring on the second toe of each foot.
Toe rings are usually adjustable. These rings are seldom closed circles but open hoops so that they could easily be removed. Toe rings usually have a small gap on the bottom of the ring to allow them to slip over the tips of the toe more easily.
Some Men frequently wore a ring on the big toe for curative purposes or to augment their masculine vigor.
Wearing toe ring to the second toe has sexual/erotic effect.
The reflexology texts also mention about treating gynecological problems by massaging the second toe.
There is also a belief that the wearing of toe rings press on certain nerves that pertain to the reproductive system, keeping it in balance and healthy.
Ancient Ayuvedic medicine has long been used along side acupressure.
Indians believe that your “prana” or “life force” must be in balance in order for you to stay healthy. All of the paths of your “prana” run down to your toes, so the idea that a marital symbol could double up as a reproductive enhancer is not a big stretch.
By wearing this on both feet, it is believed, that a woman’s menstrual cycle course is regularized with even intervals. This gives good scope for conceiving to married women. Also it is said just because that particular nerve in the second finger from toe, also connects the uteruses and passes thru heart. Because of this, the constant
friction caused while walking and doing all sorts of chores during a day, it revitalizes the productivity organs.
As Silver being a good conductor, it also absorbs the energy from the polar energies from the earth and passes it to the body, thus refreshing whole body system.
Pashmina is a type of cashmere wool. The textiles made from it were first woven in Kashmir. The name comes from Persian: pašmina, meaning "made from wool" and literally translates to "Soft Gold" in Kashmiri. The wool comes from four distinct breeds of the Cashmere goat; namely the Changthangi or Kashmir Pashmina goat from the Changthang plateau in Kashmir region, the Malra from Kargil area in Kashmir region, the Chegu from Himachal Pradesh in northern India, and Chyangara or Nepalese Pashmina goat from Nepal. Pashmina shawls are hand spun, and woven in Indian Kashmir and Nepal, and made from fine cashmere fibre.
The fibre is also known as pashm or pashmina for its use in the handmade shawls of the Himalayas. The woolen shawls made in Kashmir are mentioned in Afghan texts between the 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD. However, the founder of the Pashmina industry is traditionally held to be the 15th century ruler of Kashmir, Zayn-ul-Abidin, who introduced weavers from Central Asia and even today, the master craftsmen in Kashmir pay tribute at his grave.
Cashmere shawls have been manufactured in Nepal and Kashmir for thousands of years. The test for a quality pashmina is warmth and feel. Pashmina and Cashmere are derived from the "capra hircus" mountain goat. One distinct difference between Pashmina and generic Cashmere is the fibre diameter. Pashmina fibres are finer and thinner (11-14 microns) than generic cashmere fibre (15-19 microns), and therefore, ideal for making light weight apparel like fine scarves. Today, however, the word "Pashmina" has been used too liberally and many scarves made from natural or synthetic fiber are sold as Pashmina creating confusion in the market. The exorbitant price of a Pashmina shawl is due to the quantum of expert craftsmanship that goes into creating each shawl and the rarity of the Pashmina wool - the wool is used in an authentic Kashmiri Pashmina comes from the Changthangi breed of the capra hircus goat and this breed constitutes less than 0.1% of global Cashmere production.
As the fibre diameter is very low, Pashmina has to be hand-processed and woven into products such as shawls, scarves, wraps, throws, stoles, etc. Pashmina is the name given to it as Persians came to Kashmir via the routes of Drass Ladakh, and found it very soft and tough in quality. Pashmina is the Persian word "pashm" meaning wool. However, the quality of a finished shawl is not solely dependent on the fibre diameter of the wool but also on the craftsmen's skills. Pashmina products are made only in Kashmir and more recently in Nepal where the industry has seen a surge in production.
The Pashmina goat or Changthangi as it's called in Kashmir, sheds its winter coat every spring. One goat sheds approximately 80–170 g (3–6 ounces) of the fibre.
In the spring (the moulting season), the goats naturally shed their under fleece, which regrows in winter. This under fleece is collected by combing the goat, not by shearing, as in other fine wools. Unlike other Cashmere goats, the Pashmina goat not only feeds on the grass but also the roots of the grass. The traditional producers of Pashmina Wool in Ladakh region of India are a tribe known as the Changpa. They are a nomadic people and inhabit the Changthang plateau of the Kashmir region, which has a lowest altitude of 13,500 feet above the sea level and the winter temperature drops to -40 degree Celsius. The Changpa rear sheep in these harsh climes for meat and pashmina goats for wool.
The raw Pashmina wool is then transported to the valley of Kashmir in northern India, where it is entirely hand processed. All steps from combing (removing impurities and guard hair, and aligning fibers) and spinning, to weaving and finishing, is entirely carried out by hand by specialized craftsmen and women. The major center of Pashmina fabric production is the old district of Srinagar, capital of Indian Kashmir. The approximate craft time put into producing a single Pashmina stole (75x195cm) is 180 hours.
History of Bangles in India
There is strong evidence which shows that women have been adorning their arms with bangles since ancient times in India.
In 1973, a British archeologist discovered a statue of a teenage girl in an archeological excavation of Mohenjo-Daro. The 4,500-year-old statue is called the “Dancing Girl” and she is depicted in the nude except for an arm that is entirely covered in bangles. This evidence of bangles is noted as the first instance of the accessory as a part of human culture.
The tradition of wearing of bangles in India began in ancient times. Even today, womenfolk love to enhance their feminine grace and beauty with the help of bangles that are available in variety of forms. The word bangle has been derived from the Hindi word bangri or bangali, which in Sanskrit means the ornament which adorns the arm.
Even the Yakshinis are depicted wearing bangles. Banabhatt’s Kadambari has a reference to Goddess Saraswati – Goddess of Learning, shown as wearing kangans. Ancient fragments testify that bangles were made from terracotta, stone, shell, copper, bronze, gold, silver, lac, glass and almost any material that lent itself to craftsmanship. From simple plain circlets of metal, to ones decorated with etched and exquisite designs of bird and animal-head terminals and studded with gems, bangles in various forms existed in ancient in India.
Bangles are traditionally a part of the solah shringar of Indian brides. It is mandatory for newly wed brides and would-be-brides to wear bangles made of glass, gold or other metals as they signify the long life of the husband. They signify good fortune and prosperity. Traditionally breaking of the bridal glass or lac bangles is considered inauspicious.
Wearing of bangles is considered a must for a married woman in India and are considered to be an important part of Indian bride’s jewellery. In certain communities, there is a custom which says that gold bangles should not be worn alone by married women and should be teamed with glass bangles, popularly known as ‘kaanch ki choodiya’, as it symbolizes well-being of husband and sons. In some communities women are so superstitious, that even when changing bangles, they never allow their arm to be completely bare. A simple string or even the end of her sari is wrapped around the arm, until the new set is worn. In certain communities, widows are not allowed to wear glass bangles.
Here’s a look at what the various colors mean:
Tradition of Bangles in West Bengal: While most married women in India wear gold bangles, married women in the eastern state of Bengal wear a pair of white color shakha (shell) and paula (red coral) bangles as a symbol of marriage.
Tradition of Bangles in Punjab: In the state of Punjab, bride wears a set of ivory bangles called chooda on each hand for 21 days, or for a year after marriage, depending on family tradition.
Tradition of Bangles in Rajasthan: Rajasthani woman wears ivory bangles from her wrist to her upper arm as jewellery of gold for the rest of her life or till her husband is alive. This tradition has become obsolete in present times.
Tradition of Bangles in Contemporary Times: In present times, women, in spite of their marital status, adorn their arms with bangles that are available in various types and styles as they believe that wearing of jewellery after marriage or before marriage has no relation to their husband’s age. Hence, these days, bangle or bracelets are worn by fashion conscious girls with as much style as their mothers and grandmothers wore as part of tradition.
Bangles are vital not just during weddings, but also on the occasion of baby shower, which in the Indian context can be referred to as the bangle ceremony. It is believed to be an event held to ward off evil spirits that might be lurking around the mother-to-be or the baby in the womb. The mother-to-be, full of health and radiance, diverts the evil spirits’ attention to her arms full of bangles (glass, silver, conch, or shell bangles, depending on the region and community), thereby deflecting danger to her or the baby. The only time that a married woman removes her bangles is either at labour while having a baby or when she is widowed.
Hyderabad and Firozabad are the favourite haunts for those looking for an amazing variety of strikingly beautiful bangles. If you happen to visit these places, you just might chance upon Kasars there, who specialize in the art of making bangles.
So, when you see beautiful arms with strikingly pretty bangles resting delicately on their wrists, make sure you give them a second look. You might just be inspired to
wear some yourself.