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The mangalsutra is a long-established ritual in Indian wedding ceremonies, and many Southeast Asian cultures can be pretty strict when it comes to respecting the traditions of this sacred custom. If you’re familiar with the concept of the Mangalsutra, you’ll already know that it typically consists of a string of black beads, and is typically made with gold and an optional pendant. The mangalsutra represents the bond the new bride is making to her groom, as well as her respect for her new parents-in-law, as well as her devotion to God.
But can mangalsutra be without black beads? While some Indian women have modernized their mangalsutra designs to be more suitable for the modern workplace, the question of whether or not the fundamental design can be changed is up for debate. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do! Let’s get started.
What is Mangalsutra?
Mangalsutra is a traditional Hindu symbol of marriage, and takes the form of a necklace that consists of a string of black beads and an optional pendant. The mangalsutra is worn exclusively by married women, and serves as an outward signifier of a woman’s marital status. As we explained in the introduction, the mangalsutra also represents the bride’s love and commitment towards her new groom and his family, and as such the bride is obliged to wear her mangalsutra every day.
What do black beads in Mangalsutra represent?
Historically, the black beads in Mangalsutra are said to represent the bond between Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati (who is represented by the gold in the necklace). For this reason, the beads are considered auspicious, and are seen to bring the couple good luck, prosperity, and protect them from evil forces. When the bride wears her mangalsutra, she is also said to be protecting her husband’s health; this is why the removal or the breaking of mangalsutra was once considered a bad omen.
Can mangalsutra be without black beads?
So, can a mangalsutra be considered truly authentic without the symbolic black beads? While it’s possible for a mangalsutra to be made without black beads, it most likely wouldn’t be considered traditional or authentic across India or Southeast Asia. The black beads are an essential part of the mangalsutra, and represent the bond between husband and wife in marriage; without them, the symbolic meaning of the mangalsutra loses its potency.
That being said, some Indian women do choose to wear a version of mangalsutra that doesn’t include the traditional black beads, and is instead crafted with region-specific colorful beads or other decorative elements. These versions are popular among younger generations and Indian immigrants living in the West, and can serve as a more fashionable way to express their marital status.
Does Mangalsutra need to be gold?
If you know anything about Indian jewelry, you’ll know that gold is more frequently used than any other soft metals when it comes to crafting jewelry. The same is true for mangalsutras; while it’s not strictly necessary for a mangalsutra to be made of gold, gold is highly recommended as a way to honor its traditional significance – while also helping it to last longer. Plus, as the gold in the Mangalsutra is said to represent Goddess Parvati, (while the black beads represent Lord Shiva), to include one without the other can slightly diminish the meaning behind the mangalsutra.
And as for the durability benefits of gold, it’s best to opt for a 22k gold mangalsutra – pure gold tarnishes and bends too easily, making it less than ideal for everyday wear.
Overall, while there’s no law stating that a mangalsutra design must follow ancient custom to a T, it’s best to stick to the traditional gold and black design combination – especially if you’re looking to be mindful of its symbolic relevance.
Is it compulsory to wear mangalsutra everyday?
While there is no law prohibiting the removal of Mangalsutra, it’s considered a bad omen or “inauspicious” for Indian women to remove theirs during the length of their marriage.
Gold pendants come in all shapes and sizes, so you’re sure to find one that fits the recipient’s unique style and taste perfectly! Whether your loved one likes more classic designs or something more modern, there is a gold pendant out there for everyone!
What happens if mangalsutra is broken?
While breaking mangalsutra would once have been considered bad luck, attitudes have modernized in recent times. If you do end up breaking your mangalsutra unintentionally, there’s no need to panic – accidents happen, and yours can easily be fixed either at home or with the help of a professional jeweler.
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