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By DILIP SONIGARA

TRADITIONS

Who are you?

Part of the "Stories of Self-Expression" series by Mohini

In the last blog, we had discussed how jewellery over the years has helped us express our different identities, how it facilitated a non-verbal but potent message, and helped us locate where we belong. One aspect of that is the community and culture with which we associate. That association influences almost every aspect of our being. It gives us an identity, and that identity helps us navigate through the different choices of life. One intrinsic feature of culture is traditions that run through generations. As per Price’s Atlas of Ethnographic Societies, there are over 3814 distinct cultures described by Anthropologists, even which is considered a major understatement. Almost all of these cultures have various traditions that are vehicles of expression and belongingness. One commonality among almost all cultures is the use of jewellery as part of customs, special occasions, and for celebrating traditions.

Like the jewellery in Ireland carries various symbolism and meaning. It dates back to 2000 BC when the Celtic people started wearing jewellery for symbolic reasons. These symbols represented love, faith, family, and friendship. This symbolistic jewellery tradition has shaped modern customs like the Claddagh ring with the heart design carried by two hands. There are two ways in which you can wear it—depending on what you're trying to express—with the heart pointing outward to show that you're looking for love and with the heart pointing toward the arm to show you have a love interest. While wearing it on the left-hand means you are in a serious relationship or looking for one, wearing it on the right-hand means you are in a casual relationship, either romantic or friendly.

Similarly, in Chinese culture, jewellery holds immense importance at weddings. Jewellery is given as gifts and as part of a dowry. The jewellery offered by the groom's family signifies that the woman is welcomed as a treasured member of the family. The bride is obligated to wear the jewellery immediately to ensure good fortune. Jade is an important stone that represents grace, mortality, and familial love. It is passed down through generations. Animals, clouds, flowers, and foliage are used in designs to signify different things. Like dragons symbolize power and good luck, goldfish represents wealth, and so on.

As with Ireland and China, India has many traditions in which jewellery plays an essential role. One good example is the Indian weddings where the bride is covered with jewellery from head to toe. Some jewellery that can be seen as part of the bride's outfit is Maang Tika, which is matched with a necklace and earrings. It is symbolic of the union of the bride and groom. The other pieces of jewellery that embellish a bride's look include:

  • a nose ring which is indicative of marriage in Hindu weddings
  • earrings that match the necklace
  • Beautifully designed necklace or necklaces, in some cases, especially in South Indian weddings
  • Finger rings which are worn by both bride and groom
  • Bangles, which are considered lucky for the well-being of the husband (most North Indian brides can be seen wearing bangles even on their honeymoon)

Apart from these, there are waistbands, anklets, and toe rings, each crafted exquisitely.

These were some jewellery traditions followed in Indian weddings. But the culture of wearing, gifting, or buying jewellery is not limited to weddings. There are festivals like Dhanteras, Akshay Tritiya, Gudi Padwa, Onam, and many others where buying jewellery is considered auspicious. Not only this, there are temple jewellery and spiritual jewellery, which are widely used in India. Chola and Pandya's dynasties have been said to start the tradition of Temple jewellery, which was reserved for adorning deities and royals in the early years. But then the temple dancers and devotees started using their replicas, and soon it became an essential part of the South Indian jewellery collection.

On the other hand, Spiritual jewellery is worn for entirely different reasons. It is believed that each body part is represented by a particular chakra. For example, Divine Consciousness or Chaitanya is activated around the body where the jewellery is worn. Similarly, different metals mean different things, like gold is worn above the waist to absorb positive energy and silver below the waist as it is believed to have the ability to imbibe desire.

Traditions like these are a common practice around the world. Every culture has its variations that are unique identifiers of that society.

Mohini wants to facilitate this expression. We want you to fully live your tradition and experience a sense of satisfaction in belongingness. No matter what you're celebrating or whom, we have the perfect jewellery for you.

Note: This blog is part of the “Stories of self-expression” series, where we talk about the different ways jewellery has facilitated our journey to expressing ourselves. In the next blog, we’ll discuss how jewellery has become an expression of love and appreciation worldwide, how it holds a sentimental value, and what different jewellery means in different cultures. To read about how jewellery has helped humans express their unique and shared identities, read our previous blog: IDENTITY

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