During my visit to England, several people admired my very “unusual necklace”. This unusual necklace, which I guess does look pretty unusual compared to jewellery from the West, is my mangalsutra. For those who are not familiar, a mangalsutra is one of the many symbols of marriage a Hindu woman might wear.
The style of mangalsutra varies across India and mine is in the style usually (definitely not unusual around these parts) seen on a Maharashtrian woman…
The word mangalsutra is a combination of two Sanskrit words, mangal meaning ‘auspicious’ and sutra meaning ‘thread’. During the marriage ceremony the husband puts this auspicious thread around his bride’s neck, and traditionally she will wear this sacred necklace for the rest of his life. The black beads are thought to protect the couple from the evil eye, and sadly if a woman becomes a widow she will be expected to either removes her mangalsutra completely or remove these black beads so she can continue to wear it.
It felt a little strange in England, I was married but wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, maybe I will get one someday, but my “unusual necklace” started conversations (but not as many as my sindoor did) so people soon knew it was an Indian marriage symbol. At first I was a little unsure about how it looked myself and when British people describe something as unusual, they are most likely not totally sure if they like it or not (I am extremely sorry if I have ever described someone’s taste as unusual, that could be awkward).
That is my unusual necklace, which I now, after becoming very fond of it, like to call my beautiful mangalsutra!
Times are changing, not all married women are wearing their mangalsutra for various practical and personal reasons. Do you have a mangalsutra? Do you think it’s unusual or beautiful? Do you enjoy wearing it?
Check out my Instagram for daily updates and discussions!