Growing up, I was never a fan of gold jewelry (still cannot stand it), or any jewelry for that matter. In my teens, I started wearing black metal bangles and rings and grew awfully fond of those. When in college, I rarely ever wore a necklace and my grandmother would keep saying that girls should never leave their necks bare. I finally gave in and started wearing a black thread; she was only partly satisfied. Another complaint she had was that I never wore a bindi, I did most of the times, but it was so tiny that she couldn’t see it unless I was really close by. But today, the size of my bindis has increased considerably and I am known to sport colorful bindis occasionally, a big change according to me.
Over the years, I have been asked by many why I don’t wear gold bangles…well, the only time I have worn any were for my engagement, my wedding, and a handful of special occasions. I may have also worn some in my much much younger, more obedient days. But my love for non-gold bangles and bracelets is a whole different affair.
Since we are on the topic of jewelry, I have to share two incidents that I (and my parents) will never forget. The first one happened before our engagement. My sari for the occasion was off white with a pale blue border and I had the perfect pair roadside dangly earrings to go with it. My mom was flabbergasted, to say the least and I had to finally wear her ‘real’ jewelry for the occasion.
The second episode, as some of you may have rightly guessed, happened during the wedding jewelry shopping. It happened in Kerala and much to my parents’ surprise or rather their shock, I told them that I would like a specific type of necklace. If I had had my way, I would have worn ONLY that, but who was listening? That was the happy part of the shopping. Soon after, my mother and I had a major disagreement in the middle of the bangle section of Bhima Jewellers. Why? Because I wanted to wear glass bangles and she said that was out of the question. Well, she won again and we finally bought some bangles that I could potentially wear regularly. Well, let alone regularly, I don’t think I have worn most of them ever since! How lucky is my husband who does not have to spend a dime on gold and diamonds??? He knows he can get by with replenishing my collection of footwear!!!
Fast forward to present times and the only gold I constantly wear are my thaali chain, earrings and nose pin. No wedding ring, no bangles! My right wrist even has a very strategically placed tattoo that looks like a bracelet ;-). Coming to the topic thaali/mangalsuthra, how many of you still wear it regularly? I know of folks who wear it every day, because they value its sanctity and others who have removed it and safely put it away. Then there are those who wear it only when in the presence of elders or for special occasions. If you ask me, there should be only two options: you either wear it or you don’t. Honestly, I wear it regularly because I like the design and the chain has pretty much become a part of my anatomy…that’s about it. Traditionally, among other traits, the thaali is said to symbolize the union of two souls, keep the evil eye away from the marriage, and most importantly protect the husband’s life. Hence, a married Hindu woman is typically not supposed to remove it till the husband passes. I don’t want to create a controversy, but I have a feeling that many of you will not like where I am going with this. But think about it… is a gold necklace powerful enough to safeguard a marriage and the life of a human being? Do all women who religiously wear the thaali have a wonderful married life? In my opinion, your husband’s lifespan and the quality of your relationship solely rely on how you both handle your lives together, not on a gold necklace or ring.
Here’s some food for thought for those of you who are planning to get married soon: would you rather spend a whole lot of money on a gold chain (which in very high probability you’ll remove soon after the wedding) or save that money for the future, where you may have better use for it?